After all my experiences in India I have to say it was an amazing trip. I was able to see a lot of great places and be where I wasn't exactly in my comfort zone, but still function and get work done.
Since this was my first experience doing research, this trip was even more eye opening than I thought it would be. Research takes patience, determination, and ingenuity. There are a lot of things that go on in a lab and it's unrealistic to expect results immediately. A small nudge or a small error can cause the data to be useless. I felt that it was important to see the big picture when trying to get through this research which may have seemed insignificant. The way I saw it, if the research proves to be valuable, it will save time and money that can be spent elsewhere. Research to detect corrosion pits automatically could prevent a catastrophic failure which in turn saves valuable lives and resources, an important fact in light of the recent oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.
Outside of the research, the cultural aspect was truly mind blowing. It's hard to understand the way that people live in India because it is so different from the United States. People walk barefoot in labs, the concept of personal space contrasts completely with that of what one may be used to, lines and traffic are not orderly and contained, but are seen as "guidelines" as opposed to common practice. I see silverware as hygienic while hands are unsanitary whereas from what I've learned here, people trust the cleanliness of their own hands rather than the sterility of silverware washed by others. It's easy to be put off by the way of life here coming from a Western world. The contrast is immense and it's hard to embrace one change let alone an entire way of living.
Staying here for a month humbled the knowledge I held of the world outside my own despite my other travels abroad. I am glad to have been given this great opportunity to live and learn rather than sit back at home and watch. I look forward to what else I can learn about my career and global development so that I can continue the learning experience that started when I arrived in India.