For the summer, I’ve called Bangalore India my home. Despite all the differences in customs, language, food, dress, and body language, the Indian Institute of Science quickly started to feel like home after a couple days. Thanks to the friends I made and the couple of kurtis I bought off the street, I soon adjusted to the Indian lifestyle.
To give you a better understanding of my experience, I’ll run you through a typical week. Monday through Friday mornings, I’ve got class taught by a professor either here on campus or from somewhere around India. The module each week is of a topic related to bioengineering – we’ve had Neural Engineering, Compliant Biomechanics, Tissue Engineering, and Systems Biology so far. I attend the class with about 15 other biomedical students my age, and our lunch discussions afterwards are always thought-provoking. Listening to their thoughts on the lesson taught that day conversed with my insight on the topic is a beautiful mixing of culture and academic learning.
I spend my afternoons in my lab working on my biomedical engineering design project. I’m picking up on the electronics project where a previous intern left off with the goal of designing a smart shoe insert to help diabetic patients learn how to walk in a way that allows their foot ulcers to heal. I chose the project because my professor offered for me to visit a local hospital once I have the final design working in order to get feedback from diabetic patients, as well as the doctors conducting research there. I’m headed to Vellore on Wednesday – I’m so excited to get the chance to see how the Christian Medical College operates!
In the early evening on Mondays and Fridays, I attend a talk somewhere around campus. Since IISc is India’s top research Institute, not a day goes by without some technical talk to learn something from. During the talks, the audience interacts with the speaker almost as if having a conversation. Question after question, comment after critique, the eagerness of these professors and students to learn is something I’ve come to admire. Every day I’m thankful for the time I’m allowed to attend this prestigious institute!
My night ends either with frisbee practice on Tuesdays and Thursday or a night out for dinner with my lab. On the weekends, I’m always headed somewhere different – I’ve joined Bangalore trekking clubs for a weekend out hiking, I’ve accompanied lab mates back to their hometowns, and this weekend I’m headed up to Delhi to visit the Taj Mahal. I’m learning many technical skills in the lab, but the academic experiences I’ve had around campus as well as time immersed in the Indian culture are what have made this experience so unique. On my first day here, my new friend encouraged me to get the most out of India this summer: “Bring the colors you find here in India back home with you. Life’s boring if you paint with just one color, and India has many many colors to offer you this summer.