'There was no culture shock'

Expat zone

'There was no culture shock'

Coming from a city likened to a cultural melting pot, Bengaluru is no shock to a 22-year-old New Yorker. Veronica Rainone arrived in the city 2 years ago as a part of a study-abroad programme. She is studying pre-law at The City College of New York but is able to credit study at another university for her degree.

Veronica says coming to India wasn’t much of a culture shock, thanks to her best friend in the US who had given her a feel about the culture and way of life in India. It is this great induction that stood her in good stead when she set foot in India.

“I ate Indian food, listened to them speak Hindi, watched Bollywood films. There was no culture shock when I arrived. But I didn’t think there would be dogs on the street. I knew about the cows but not the dogs.”

One of the first things that she noticed about the education system in India is the way of dressing where students are seen wearing more formal attire. Veronica also found the rapport between the teacher and student a bit  formal.

Drawing a parallel with the education system back home, Veronica says that it is only a little bit different. She says Indian colleges are more formal than her school in the US. For instance, you have to wear formal Indian clothing like the ‘kurta’ and stand up when you greet your professors.

The young lady has also explored the mall culture and has experienced the nightlife of Bengaluru with her friends.

Veronica is majoring in American history because she finds it easy and history is fascinating. 

But while in India she has been given the freedom to study topics that aren’t usually there back home. 

“Some of the topics I have studied in India include poverty and population,
marketing and business.

All my classes are credited in the study abroad programme to the American
university I study in,” she says.

Veronica is not only fulfilling her educational pursuits, she is also making time to study Hindi and explore a few other things.  

After studying for a year and a half, Veronica has taken this semester off to learn Hindi and volunteer at the girl’s orphanage, ‘Rainbow House’. “It is just amazing to be able to see the other side (of life). One person can’t make a difference on a large scale but they can in that child for a short period of time,” she says.

Watching children play is a joy in itself and Veronica more than enjoys their company. “The children play games like tag and spin around. The girls enjoy the company so much that they fight for attention,” she says.

Apart from history, Veronica is also fascinated with law. She says that the desire to become a criminal defense attorney has motivated Veronica since she was in high school.
  
She has to complete 1 more semester of her 3-year pre-law degree then she
can start law school in the US. She says once that starts she won’t be able to take time off to travel as her career kicks off.

“In high school we did mock trials and I was really good at arguing cases and reading case studies, it’s just really interesting. So much effort goes into law prosecuting. A lot of people don’t have voices and everyone should have the right to a free trial, they should have a right to an attorney. And it’s just defending people who can’t otherwise defend
themselves.”

Veronica has no doubt fallen in love with India. She knows that her career will soon take over and she may not have the luxury of time to visit India as she would like to.

Veronica is meant to go back in August, but she doesn’t want to. “It all depends on my father and when he wants me back. It has to come to an end but I just want to prolong it as much as I can.

Living here is an opportunity I may never be able to do again.”

Despite not wanting to move home, Veronica says New York City is a fabulous place to live. “It’s great because you’re living in the best city in the world. I couldn’t imagine living in any other state in the US because everyone else wants to go to New York
City or Los Angeles.”

Veronica has travelled a lot in South India and hopes to travel the Northern part of the country soon.

She says travelling in India is so much easier than the US because everyone
is so laid back. “You’re able to just go to the train or bus station, buy a ticket and leave for your destination.

In the US, you have to intensively plan every bit of your route.” 

She was also surprised when she first moved to India to see how the locals were able to take off from work whenever they wanted. She says that life in the US is much more rigid. She adds that the best thing about India has been the people she has met.

“The highlight is just meeting all these amazing people and experiencing all these new things with them. You can never know this culture quite well enough. It’s so extensively
diverse there’s so much difference in one single area, to me it’s still unknown,” says Veronica.

 While the heat is bordering on unbearable and Veronica lives without air conditioning, she still takes the time to appreciate India's diverse and talented artists. She also
feels the country has managed to popularise and promote art and dance with equal fervour.

“They have such beautiful art, dance and language,” she says.


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