Adam Kunkel is an Ambassador who studied abroad in India.
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you decide on this program?
Studying abroad was always something I knew I needed to do. I had spent my entire life in suburban Minnesota, and I knew that that would give me an extremely narrow view of what the world is really like. I chose India because its the FARTHEST away I could get. I knew it would be the most challenging, the most difficult, and the most rewarding cultural immersion I could find. I knew it was where I had to go.
Briefly describe a specific cultural experience you had on your trip that made a lasting impression.
A group of a few of us were walking around in an unfamiliar area in Bodh Gaya. We heard music and lots of commotion nearby, so we went to check it out. We soon discovered that it was some sort of festival outside of a temple, with hundreds of people milling around socializing and a group of men playing live music and dancing obnoxiously. At first we just watched, but then I thought, "I'm here to experience India. I'm going to jump right in." We walked into the group of men and started dancing our tails off. They loved it, and soon we not only had a full-fledged religious dance party with strangers, but there about 200-300 Indians making a circle around us, staring at us. I guess they don't see Americans that often, let alone Americans dancing.
Describe your overall study abroad experience.
India was incredible. It's an entirely different world. Its impossible to describe how different life was there, and how differently I now look at the world. I made some pretty great friends, learned a lot about Hindu culture, had a lot of hardships, and most importantly, I saw what life is really like on the other side of the world
Based on your experiences abroad, what are some of the benefits of spending a semester abroad? How has studying abroad contributed to your personal, academic, and professional development?
Study abroad gives you a whole new prospective. You can't spend your whole life in Minnesota without knowing what life for others is like. In my personal life, I'll never be afraid of traffic or crowds, I'll never complain about what I eat, and I now have a greater passion for helping those in need. In my academic and professional development, I now have a much better idea of life in one of the fasting growing economies on the globe, and I've personally seen how dedicated students can be to their studies when they truly need to set themselves apart.
What advice can you offer for CSB/SJU students who are considering or planning to study abroad
Do it, and do it well. It's something just about everybody should do. When you're there, don't think about home, don't think about what you're missing, just BE THERE. Because will probably only get to do this once, so take advantage of every minute.
Do you have questions about studying abroad in India? Email Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org.