After completing my bachelor at NHH I decided that I needed to do something else before continuing my studies. Something else for me meant something international and different. When an internship opportunity in India showed up, it was an easy choice.
I was lucky to have a buddy from AIESEC in New Delhi that picked me up at the airport and drove me to the flat I was sharing with other foreign interns for four months. She let me off there in the middle of the night, woke up a sleepy Russian girl, found me a bed and said good night. When waking up that morning I was so hot, humid, full of mosquito bites and terrified for not knowing anyone that I was unsure if I would ever survive India for four months. A thought of regret struck me, and I was wondering if I should have listened to mom and gone somewhere closer to Norway.
It took me about ten minutes and five handshakes before I changed my mind. I had already gotten new friends.
My first impression of India was chaotic, hot and colorful. People, cars and cows were everywhere. Indians stared at me because I was white and blonde, and at tourist attractions as a foreigner you often ended up as a tourist attraction yourself, with a queue of locals wanting to take a photo with you. Indians are curious people, differing a lot from the Norwegian shyness. For them it is of great interest to know about your family and social status. In the end I learned to just say I was married, as being 24 and single led to too much attention and sympathy with my parents who had not yet found a man for their daughter.
At Vintage Shades, where I was working on introducing their high-end cashmere products for the Scandinavian market I was the only foreigner. I found my colleagues very friendly, and although their English was so-so, I learned that a smile and some pointing get you a long way. They also found it amusing to make me try their homemade lunches, and seemed amazed every time I managed to eat without crying because it was too spicy. My boss spoke English well though, and had been travelling all over the world, so communicating with him was no problem, except he was very busy. Eventually I found out that the head of customer care was perfect to ask both about work and the Indian culture, because he was excellent in English and loved to talk, so he said seldom no to a good discussion.
Socially life in New Delhi was great. We were a big group of foreigners from all over the world that was working in different companies, living in the same area. Every night something was happening: a party, clubbing, movie night, dinner, shopping and so on. I also did a lot of travelling as there was always someone who wanted to join for new adventures. India kept surprising me, and somehow travelling at least ten hours each way on a bumpy road or in an overcrowded train for a weekend trip was fine, because the travel itself was an experience.
Going to India all by myself is the scariest thing I have ever done. The differences from Norway and the western world is something you cannot imagine beforehand, yet not prepare for. My best advice is to not think about what can go wrong, but just go for it and know that it will be amazing as long as you are prepared for something different. After all, many made it before you, so why should not you make it?