Thursday, July 18, 2013

Natalie's Summer, Part 1: Northern India

HNC MAIS student Natalie Sammarco sent us an update from India, where she is spending part of the summer between her first and second year:

"Many of my friends from HNC have opted to get internships for the summer in either the US or China and even elsewhere (Europe, other Asian countries too). Since I have worked out in the ‘real’ world before, I know that time is precious and summer vacations are becoming more and more scarce. Given this, I chose to engage in personal interests this summer and then go home to see my family (I have a big one!). That’s why I’m currently pursuing a yoga certification program in India for the month of July, after which I will swing by to see a couple HNC friends before heading back to the US for a much needed respite :-)

<<<Aside: I did a little preparation beforehand, knowing that I was coming to India this summer. In my economics class this spring, I chose to do my policy brief (a 16 page analysis of environmentalism and globalization) on India so that I could know much more about the country before I arrived. That was amazing preparation for me. That way, I tied HNC and my summer plans into one :-) >>>

This yoga certification is for a couple reasons. It’s so important for students at HNC to stay true to their interests, especially when there won’t be as many US conveniences (read: a fully stocked gym) available in or around the Center. One should come prepared for making a full effort to seek out any extra curricular activities when one comes to campus. Saying this isn’t to scare anyone, it’s just the truth. We have some gym equipment at the Center, but it merely does the job with no frills. Thus, this certification is to keep myself centered while working on my thesis and also to provide another physical outlet for students at HNC next year (I’ll be conducting classes :-); TBA)

My yoga school in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh is only 5 hours from the Pakistani border and couldn’t be in a more beautiful location. It’s in the foothills of the Himalayas and has been called 'Little Lhasa' because it is His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s adopted home-in-exile. We’ve spent 14 hours a day for the past 3 weeks studying, learning, doing, and living the yogic lifestyle. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be tired from cleansing my entire body and mind from a year of hard academics. The amazing part is that there are still 10 days to go.

Being here reminds me that the world is large and there are places that are untouched by modernization. Our accommodations are ‘yogic’, another word for spartan, but no one seems to mind. The electricity cuts in and out, but when you realize you’re in the mountains, you can’t complain. The photo below is the view from my balcony. There’s something about being in the mountains that’s so exhilarating.

I am thankful to have the other people in my yoga training with me. They come from a diverse group of countries including the UAE and Thailand, among 8 others. Some have sold all their belongings and live in trailers by the beach. Some teach English in bustling metropolises, others train competitively in Jiu-jitzu, and one has put her sofa and extra shoes in a storage locker in Brooklyn and doesn’t know when she’s planning to go back to retrieve them. The world is open to explore. These people are amazing. They are inspiring. They are warriors of the world and won’t take no for an answer. They take the hits and inconveniences of living in the countryside with grace. I could not be more blessed.

The message here is that HNC is a place to study hard and receive your certificate or degree, and that is amazing. That time is also a good chance to explore the area in which you live: Asia. It is okay and well to be working over every holiday break: interning, writing papers, catching up on news. Those are all useful experiences. Yet, the world is out here and we are young. My advice is: study hard all year long, then take your much needed vacation. That way, you get the best of both worlds: working hard, and playing hard.

Up next: Summer, Part 2: Meeting His Holiness, the Dalai Lama"