Final Assignment

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How has India affected me? That is a question I have been asking myself for the past couple days. Almost as important as the journey itself is the time taken for reflection at the end. So in taking time for reflection I realized a few things about my worldview which I will discuss that India has shaped. I would say one of the biggest things that India helped me to do while developing my worldview is become more empathetic. I think I could have study India and Indian culture for years but until I actually chose to visit India I would probably never have been able to truly empathize with the people of India, being there around a vast diversity of people helped me see what they experience in a new light. I think that another thing that India did was create some cultural curiosity in me. Being there, in India, caused me to want to find out and understand more about there culture. I found since I have been back that I have actually looked up some information about India and pulled out an atlas to find out more about it. Two weeks is certainly not enough time to learn very much about a culture but it is enough time to create interest in that culture that will last beyond the two weeks. I also know that my worldview has been shifted along with some of my paradigms on business and culture in India. Now whenever I see India I have a personal sentiment towards it and a certain level of understanding of what actually happens there. When I read about something on yahoo that happened in Delhi I will have a mental picture of where it is and what it looks like. Being in India changed my view of India, maybe even created a view that did not even exist in the first place. Reading my first blog the opening was "What do I know about India? Actually almost nothing." I think the fact that that has changed shows a level of success with the program. I know that looking back on what I have learned has really changed India from that country on the other side of the world to that place I visited. This change has helped me relate better to the people of India and understand their culture which has caused me to have an expanded worldview. Looking at just these three aspects has amazed me. India did and will play a role in the direction of my life over the next few years. It was an awesome cultural experience and I am glad that I chose India as my international experience through Carlson. Thank you all!

Last Day Reflections

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So it's my last day in India, what can I possibly say about the experience I have had in the past two weeks. Crazy, hot, lots of sitting, each of these were a part of what we went through in India. I was surprised by some things, especially land prices, I just can't believe how high they are here. I am very thankful they are much lower in the US! One of the other things that surprises me is amazing amount of diversity in India. There are so many different cultures all meshed in to one huge populated country. It is so interesting how many languages that people speak, I'm sure some of the languages are similar but still, speaking 5 or 6 languages sounds like so much work. One of the unique things that I found was how many contradictions there are. I would see three different presentations and there would be three different population and GDP figures in each of them. I think that the huge amount of diversity is probably what ends up leading to that. Overall, I think the trip was a great success. I would go again, I think that in 5 years I will be really glad that I truly chose a cultural experience like India instead of something that might be more "fun" like Australia. India was definitely an eye opening experience!

Final Thoughts-Jon M

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Departure from India was very bitter sweet. Though, I was excited to experience my beloved first world amenities like airconditioning, paved roads, and ice water, it was a little saddening to be leaving a country that I had learned to much about. 

I left India a changed man. It will hard for me to take for granted all the blessing I have received: a permanent home, a working family, and a world class education. If ever I forgot about these gifts, I need only look back at the video of our tour of them slums of Bangalore. 

My acceptance of diversity is one that has increased tenfold after my tour abroad. 
This trip really taught me how to accomodate and embrace challenges. Whether it be bus and traffic troubles or a strictly vegetarian diet, I have learned to become adaptable. 

One of the more saddening moments was when we all retrieved our baggage for the final time at MSP airport. At this point, we had endured 8 weeks of class and two weeks of travel, and had undoubtedly become very close. I have some very fond memories of this trip.  A few include:
-The rabbit sized rat outside Holly's bedroom that grew with every telling
-The gecko found on Sam's shower curtain and later in a bucket of water....dead.
-Cockroaches scurrying between your feet on the boulevards of Bangalore.
-125 degree heat on the Tarmac of Delhi. Thank you IndiGo Airlines. 
-Stray Dogs
-Corpse being carried down the road
-Those lingering smells of India
-Camel scratching his neck on a tree
-Riya getting slimed on by an Elephant. 
-Bak Bak Bar--enough said.
-Aishwarya you sassy Indian 
-Hand Standing in front of the Taj Mahal
-Abidas Shoes and Ron & Bon Sunglasses
-"Kevin do you have any coughdrops?"
-Babies crying...and crying....and crying.
-Honk, Honk, Honk. Bump, Bump, Bump

Thanks to all that made this trip so delightful! I truly had an amazing time with all of you and getting to know you all!

Wad'ya Think Wyp? - Final Thoughts

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Well, we're finally back in the states.  While reflecting on our two weeks in India, it really is impossible to touch on all of the experiences I had and the information that I have learned about Indian culture, but I will try my best to highlight my favorite parts.  First off was the ridiculous driving that occurred every day.  I am absolutely amazed how traffic in India can run the way it is without having about 20 accidents a day.  I felt that our driving experiences encompassed the phrase best describing India in general, an "organized mess".  Next would have to be the extreme heat we encountered in Delhi.  I know we heard over and over how hot it was going to be, but I never dreamed it would actually get up to those temperatures.  I never knew that it could actually get hotter when the wind blew, let alone 10 degrees hotter with just the slightest breeze.  Finally, the companies we were able to visit really piqued my interest throughout the trip.  From Target's mirror image campus to Infosys' resort of a campus, it was truly amazing to see the places that these companies have built over in India.  The business culture was also much different than the US, but the Indian people have made it their own and clearly have been successful.  Last but not least, never forget the Bak Bak Bar.  Thank you everyone for all of the memories, it's been a wonderful trip!

Wad'ya Think Wyp? - SAP

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When I first heard of the term ERP, or Enterprise Resource System, all I really understood about it was how ERP systems are extremely expensive to implement and only the largest of companies utilize their products.  Throughout all of IDSC 3001, I never really understood what an ERP company really did.  I haven't taken the ERP course yet either, so I haven't seen an ERP system in use either.  Our visit to SAP really cleared up exactly what the big players in the ERP market really do and what each company's strengths are in the field.  I felt that while our trip to SAP probably was the shortest in time, it had the most information on what the company really does and what SAP is doing to continually grow its company.  The presenter did a wonderful job explaining how SAP is stronger in its applications provided to its customers, whereas Oracle, SAP's main competitor, is very strong in database structures, and not so much in applications.  I really enjoyed learning about the movements towards cloud-based information storage and consulting that SAP has done in recent years.  Out of all the companies we visited, I would pick SAP as the one I would like to work for the most in my future.

Wad'ya Think Wyp? - Indian Cuisine

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Before we went to India, my only knowledge of India food was of the delicious curry that I had gotten from Spice (great restaurant by the way if anyone is in Burnsville or Lakeville!).  I knew it was going to be a vital part on how my experience in India went, so I hoped for the best that my body would be able to cope with the heat that most Indian food came with.  In short, it didn't.  The food for the first week was bearable, but after a week of the same foods my stomach was practically begging for some sort of greasy, fried food.  The normal foods that I ate at most meals were oddly spiced chicken, which I usually found multiple bones in, and lots of rice and random sauces that I did not know the ingredients of.  The fact that we had buffets for most of the meals had its pros and cons. I felt that all of the food was similar in the end so it was tough to try new things, but if I did find something that I liked.  The one food that I consistently felt comfortable eating was the naan, because screwing up bread is pretty hard to do.  One thing that I found really interesting was how much effort that goes in to making the food.  The fact that it took us about 4 hours to complete our meal with 14 of us helping out the chef made me really respect the amount of time most Indians put into their food.  In our cooking class, it was amazing to see how much experience it must take to have all of the ingredients and spices put in at the right amounts, especially when cooking for such large groups.  Overall, I am glad I experienced the Indian cuisine, but nothing can beat a juicy, American burger in the end.

Final Thoughts on India

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I find it difficult to put together a final impression on a nation that "officially" speaks 27 different languages, and can go through massive speech, climate, societal, and food changes from one part to another. It's been said that it takes months in this nation to really start to "get" what it's about. And even then, a person like me will likely never fully grasp some of the things that happen every day there, not because I just flat out don't get it, but because so much of what these people do every day is steeped in so much tradition, yet is flexible and malleable enough to change with the times. 

As I've stated in earlier posts, the stark difference between rich and poor is easily seen in this nation, more so than any other place I've been before. Having come from a humble background myself, this really struck a nerve with me. I grew up spotting the differences between me and those around me, what I had and what others had. In India, seeing this level of disparity through Western eyes was difficult, until I saw that there was a common amiability, a contentedness that was the same in an old man in the slums as in a rich man running an export business. Understanding this was critical to my understanding of how this country carries on as it does, and how this disparity is lived with.

Another point that has interested me is India's ability to adapt as a nation. From building one of the largest cities in the world (New Delhi) in arguably one of the most inhospitable areas of the world, to the rapid design and release of tools, medicines, software, machines, and other devices, I found Indian adaptability and resourcefulness to be one of the nation's most interesting assets. No matter what seemed to happen that was not according to plan, I usually saw some sort of improvisation that bordered on genius, including at one point a man fixing the brake cable on a rickshaw with a stressed shoestring (I'm serious!). 

Although I do appreciate being back in Minnesota, there will always be at least respect for what I saw and experienced in India. Respect, and a wish to learn some of the adaptability and amiable nature I saw in that country. 

Development in India: Two Sides to the Coin

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India's rapid expansion of a middle class is something marveled at by the rest of the world, with nearly 300,000,000 people making enough disposable income to buy cars, good housing, and consumer goods, both consumable and durable. This rapid pace of expansion and economic certainly has good and bad sides to it, both of which I found myself struggling with in order to form some sort of opinion about. 

At first glance, all the development in larger cities was encouraging to see. Sprawling apartment complexes and office buildings were constantly being built in New Delhi and Bangalore, car dealerships and motorcycle shops were everywhere, and malls seemed to be larger and more bustling than those in the US. It looked to be a great time to be someone in this country, where money went very far, and people were able to get what they wanted by taking a quick jaunt to the nearest shopping center. Work is easy to find after attending universities with a comparatively lower tuition rate than US alternatives, and the world seemed to be at the fingertips of the twentysomethings that lived in the cities. Hell, if you couldn't make it on your own, you could strike out on your own and start your own business. The ways to make a comfortable living in this country are just as numerous as the ways to spend the money that's made.

However, there are several downsides that come with this. As a relatively large portion of the country becomes richer and richer, a proportionately large population lives in squalor, often off the wastes of those who consume and discard. From a boy in Delhi crushing plastic bottles before packing them into a bag, to women in Bangalore making handbags and wallets out of the waste of those more wealthy, there exists a large group of people like you or I, who survive on a day to day basis, in increasingly worse conditions. The factories that have produced so many of the goods consumed by the Indian middle class dump pollution into the same rivers that many bathe in, as well as making it through the faucets of wealthier homes. Smog is thick, and lays in a thick, smelly haze, filling the lungs of rich and poor alike, indiscriminately. 

In speaking of rapidly developing nations, news outlets, textbooks, and lecturers often speak of the burdens of industrialized society, and how nations must grapple with these. Ensuring basic needs for a nation's residents can actually be more difficult while trying to grow a GDP. Ensuring safe water, good nutrition, and proper shelter for all citizens is a challenge for any nation, and is only confounded by more people and modernization. These indeed are still issues in the US, but are to an extent hidden. In India, these problems are on full display, and no book, no speaker, no news report, can prepare a person for that. 

Ending Impression of My Trip

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Study abroad in India refreshed my life in many ways. I learned how to interact with others, realized different values of life. I was curious about India for a long time since I heard two very opposite news of India-fast economic growth and poverty. I was very excited to go to India as a group, but it was also a big challenge for me. First of all, I was older than other students. I was worried that I might not be able to relate myself to them. I went to India with tons of worries and excitements at the same time.

It had been such a long time that I had an active social activity outside of a family boundary. Although I go to school, my main activity is within the family boundary. So, I was worried how to interact with other students I go to India together. Fortunately, I met great young students who were funny and responsible. While we spent 2 weeks together, we got to know each other, and we ended up feeling a strong bond together. It was a great experience for me to hang out with young students whom I end up working with after graduating school. I am sure the India trip helps me how to interact with younger generation in the future.

While I had a lot of fun, I also experienced both side of India; growth and poverty. I saw many high rise building constructions and slums like the Annawadi from the book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Interestingly, there were no distinctive boundaries between the development and poverty in India; there were bare foot people living in a tent right next to the Silicon Valley of India. It was weird to see such an inequality close together. While I observed the poor people, one thing stroke my mind; why they were smiling? Why did they look so happy? One of the speakers from the Christ University told us that, many Indian people are not greedy; they know to be happy whatever they have.

I don't think that I can be happy if I had to live even without a pair of shoes, but the speaker's comment made me think about greed. I realized that many of my satisfactions come from how much I have more than others. I have a healthy and happy family, house, car, and most of all; I have an ability to do what I want to do. After seeing happy people in India despite their poor living situations, I set new parameter of satisfaction of my life; being happy with what I currently have and sharing what I have with people who need a help.  

Overall, going to India was a great experience that I will never have again. It was full of fun, and it also makes me think seriously about what is important in my life. I really appreciate to the Carlson School of Management because it requires mandatory Study Abroad Programs because it gives me a chance to go to India. I also would like to thank to Holly, Kevin, and 11 others who made my experience richer In India.   

Some final thoughts

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Between the cold weather and a much slower schedule now that I am back in Minnesota, I almost feel like our trip to India never happened.  It is so much quieter, not just because of a lack of traffic and constant movement, but because I don't have 13 other people around me constantly.  The latter part is something I actually miss a lot; we really had such a great group that made the experiences in India - both the highs (Taj Mahal, Target Presentations, site visits) and not so great parts (heat, long bus rides, giant rats, funky smells) - all the more exciting.  

It is hard to believe that just a week ago we were literally on the other side of the world.  I feel like we were finally settling in as we already had to board the plane to go back to the States.  That being said, we really packed a lot in to the two weeks and made the most of our visit.  I really feel like I saw some of the growth and development in India (especially in Bangalore) that I read about in India Becoming and was able to taste a hint of it from the insides of different international firms that we visited.  Our experience at Christ University also helped to paint a fuller picture through guest lectures and cultural events prepared by the students.  Specifically, it was really great to connect with our student guides, Taher and Aishwarya.  They contributed so much feeling to our trip, making it feel less like a tour of India to more of an interactive visit with friends.  Overall, I felt that Christ University was incredibly welcoming and hospitable, and I loved the time that we spent there. 

            Leaving India, I think I bring back a bit of a new perspective on travelling and an excitement about learning more about the country.  At times my comfort level was challenged whether it be because of lack of hygiene, pollution or food issues, but I really learned the importance of positivity and gratitude for what I have and the opportunity to travel.  Keeping these values and good-humored travelling companions in tow, I feel like I can adjust and make due nearly anywhere.  Obviously we weren't roughing it by any means, but our India trip has me geared up to come back again and to explore new parts of the country (maybe not in such nice conditions) in the not-so-distant future.  Lastly, our trip has gotten me excited for my program in Copenhagen and has me looking forward to where my studies in Diversity and Change Management may take me.  In India, it was very apparent that intercultural understanding and communication is central to the success of any international business.  These experiences reaffirmed my interest and drive towards connecting culture with business in my career, and I look forward to see where this path will lead.  


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