My classmate, Quinn Audsley ‘20, and I received a travel grant for the spring semester abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand. With two weeks of break allotted to us in April, we were able to go to Northern India, completing a trek in the Western Himalayas, experiencing the city of Delhi, and engaging in person with content previously studied in Dr. Basu’s “Icons of Islamic Architecture” course.
Ever since I heard about the India abroad program during my freshman year, I was dead set on going to India. After applying, getting in, and learning that the program had been cancelled, I was devastated but still determined to get myself there. India is central to my art history major as I have taken many classes focusing on everything from architecture to gender relations in art. I have also studied India within my government major, which has a concentration in Asian studies as well. This opportunity to go to India has been incredibly influential to my academics as I have already been able to pull aspects of my experience and incorporate them into class discussions and assignments. Furthermore, I am currently working with Dr. Basu in the Art History department to create an independent study for my final semester at SLU that we are planning to include a travel component to Southern India within it.
In India, Quinn and I spent one week trekking the Har Ki Doon Valley, located in the Sankri Range of Uttarakhand, Northern India. This week was such an incredible experience for myself and Quinn as we are both passionate about the environment. After having been in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the last four months, this opportunity to spend time outside and connect with nature while simultaneously learning about the cultures and traditions of both the Sankri region, and the regions which other trek participants originated from felt surreal.
Although our second week’s plans were drastically changed due to a cancelled flight, spending the entire week in Delhi was still awe-inspiring. During this week, Quinn and I were able to visit many of the monuments and places which we had studied profusely in the course ‘Icons of Islamic Architecture’, as well as many other places we would not have known about had that flight to Varanasi not been cancelled. During our first day, we visited the Taj Mahal at sunrise and went to the Agra Fort, then came back to Delhi and visited the Qutb Minar Complex. While the majority of our second day in Delhi was spent in the airport, we still managed to destress that evening at a movie theater in the outskirts of New Delhi. For the remainder of the week in Delhi, we visited Humayun’s Tomb, Iman Zamin’s Tomb, Iltutmish’s Tomb, and many different bazaars. Through the hostel that we were staying in, we joined in on multiple tours including a ‘food tour’ of Old Delhi, and a sunset visit to the India Gate. Altogether, being able to travel in both rural Northern India, and the capital city of Delhi helped me to solidify my interest in creating an independent study focusing on India for this coming Spring semester. In combination with my semester abroad in Thailand which included experiences in Malaysia, Myanmar and Laos, and following summer internship in Shanghai, China, where I also traveled throughout Eastern China, Hong Kong and South Korea; these experiences have helped me create a well-rounded and open minded understanding of Asian cultures, and a drive to learn more about these often overlooked and misunderstood countries.