A Diary of an Exchange Student

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I was one of the lucky students who had the chance to participate in an international student exchange programme, an initiative of St. Xavier’s College. The aim of this program was to broaden the cultural spectrum of the students.

In the present where globalization is the new trend, being familiar with other’s culture comes in handy, especially if the culture and society in question is that of our neighboring country, India. This initiative was meant to narrow the cultural gap. Additionally, it also broadened my friend circle, and provided me with valuable learnings.

St. Xavier’s College, Jaipur, with the very aim of bringing people together from different cultural and social backgrounds, has been hosting an annual exchange program since 2013. St. Xavier’s College (Maitighar), St. Xavier’s College (Mumbai), Loyola College (Meghalaya), St. Joseph College (Bengaluru), and Sophia College (Ajmer) were among the many institutions invited to join this programme in the academic session, 2019.

The exchange program aimed to introduce students to unconventional educational methods through which they can gain the utmost knowledge and experience different cultures in a short period of time. It is a basic requirement for students today to have access to internationally applicable education. So with these aims in mind, the college strives to develop an inclusive programme that expands their worldview and assists them in succeeding. Since all of our programs were set to begin on November 4th, the team from St Xavier’s College, Maitighar reached Jaipur on November 2nd, 2019. We decided to take advantage of our day off by indulging ourselves in shopping. We’ve always been fascinated by Jaipur’s rich heritage, culture and colors, well-reflected in the handcrafted clothing, jewelry, and shoes that could be found there.

Xavierians friends from Jaipur recommended Bapu Bazaar, a colorful place, located at the heart of the city- packed with people, loud auto rickshaw honking their way through, vibrant dessert stalls and jewelries. It was a pleasantly noisy place where shopkeepers were calling out to customers. The street foods around the bazaar were exceptionally pleasing to the taste buds, especially the desserts that felt like home with their soothing aroma.

On the first day of the Jaipur Student Exchange Programme, Norbu Wangchuk, Bhutan’s former education minister, presided over the opening ceremony. Wangchuk was a modest person who, in addition to being arenowned educationist, wore the traditional Bhutanese outfit to spread the message of accepting one’s culture. The session was inspiring and insightful, and frankly the participation was overwhelming. It brought many students from various walks of life together for a simple purpose of understanding cultural gaps and concentrating on collective goals.

On the second day, we visited the ‘Barefoot College’ of Tilonia in the Ajmer district of Rajasthan, formally known as the Social Work and Research Centre (SWRC). It was established over three decades ago by Bunker Roy and a small group of other social activists. They work to assist and make the healthservices accessible to the populace. Solar energy, health, water recycling, rural water supply, and education are only a few of the issues SWRC works on. The program emphasizes the participation of local villagers on solving various problems of their own village.

On the third day, we attended the Econometrics session conducted by St Xavier’s College (Jaipur), our host. Three sessions were held from 8:20 AM. to 11 AM, addressing a variety of subjects ranging from growth of economics to understanding of the country’s monetary policy and the country’s economic slowdown over the last 45 years. It was apparent that when it came to viewing the country’s economic conditions from various perspectives, the Econometrics department at St Xavier’s College in Jaipur had a lot to share. The programme reflected their dedication and grasp over the national economy, and was informative to all participants and observers including me. The students were also engaged in discussions on different factors which helped in calculating poverty, and the relationship between growth and inflation

When I look back at the many places we visited over the next three days, City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal, Ahmer Fort, Birla Mandir and Jal Mahal were the most fascinating. Going to any of these places on our own would have been extremely difficult, but the students and faculty at St Xavier’s, Jaipur were extremely hospitable, amiable and supportive. They accompanied us to every location and helped us assimilate into the community. Among many other opportunities, the sight-seeing was a perk we took pleasure in, the picturesque locations and the people who had built their life around it, will forever be memorable to us.The best part of the exchange programme was being able to interact with students from all over India and learn about their experiences and diverse cultural practices. We will always treasure the memories we’ve gathered from raucous trains to serene palaces.

It was an honor for all of us to be able to represent our nation, community, and college on a global stage. I am eternally grateful to all of my friends and professors who made my trip to Jaipur so memorable. Moreover, St. Xavier’s College, Maitighar deserves every bit of credit for providing us with this once-in-alifetime and extremely valuable opportunity.

-Sonisha Gautam (017BA082)