Sunday, January 6, 2013


I prayed for friends my first day here. Within the hour my prayer was answered. Friends have continued to come out of the woodwork since meeting Bridget. The college has recently acquired about thirty more international students from all over the world. All of the students are med students (doctors), leaving Julian, Teresa and I as the only PMR (Physical Medication and Rehabilitation) students.

Julian, Teresa and I went out for dinner last night. Not only did I appreciate them taking me along for company, but I am thankful that they showed me how to catch the bus, what bus to catch, and how to get around Vellore with mass transit. I have a feeling I will be the one teaching others here shortly. I would like to report that we went out to an amazing Indian restaurant with the best curries and biriyanis, but alas and alack, we went out for pizza. (Sorry, Lisa!) When I heard they were going out for pizza, I was a little disappointed, but then thought about it and realized that I will no doubt be sick of Indian food all too soon, so I could sacrifice a little culture for companionship. The pizza was really good, not gonna lie. We finished off the dinner with molten chocolate cake and ice cream. Julian and Teresa were in heaven, and it was fun to watch them devour it with such enthusiasm. Also, there were two power cuts while we were there. No one bats and eye at power cuts, it is almost comical.

Pizza Corner's specialty appetizer
Upon returning to Modale hostel (my second home), we met three Norwegian students who had just arrived and soon enough the living room filled with international medical students. Each and every student made me feel welcomed and there was a unique feeling of solidarity that settled over the gang. Incidentally, the Norwegians and the other international students got pizza “to go” and brought it back to Modale. We talked well past 11 o’clock about all things international, medical and everything in between. It is my understanding that a game of “Mafia” was started that lasted until 4 am. I decided to head back to my “home” around 11 o’clock as it was rather dark and I was feeling tired. As I sit here in the corner of the living room of Modale, a rousing game of Mafia goes on around me.

Chinni: (probably not how you spell his name) the patriarch of the group from Australia, insisted that I call an auto rickshaw to take me home, even though it is a short walk. Having never “called an auto,” I asked him to teach me the ropes. Not only did he call the auto, but while we waited for it, he educated me on what prices to expect for auto rickshaw around Vellore. He kindly negotiated a price for me before I set out. I was thankful to have someone looking after me, even though I am nearly a stranger to him.

Raza, deep in conversation
 Raza: (how you spell his name, but not how you pronounce it) arrived yesterday from Kansas City. He and I share a common bond in that we are the only two students from the United States. We have begun a verbal jousting match of West Coast vs. East Coast (He is originally from Baltimore), yet band together to hold our own when the others start to kid us in our “American ways.”

Needah: a medical student from Perth, Australia , who unfortunately cut her stay short after developing some sort of lung infection. She was on a tour yesterday with a number of students when she passed out. After recovering from her incident, she decided the best course of action would be to return home and rest up. Although she was sick, her vibrant personality ticked us all into thinking she was fine. I am disappointed that I will not be able to get to know her better. She left today. 

J2: (definitely NOT how you spell his name, but exactly how you pronounce it) a medical student born and raised in Sydney, Australia, is very animated and seems excited about learning. He does not like Indian food.

The lovely Anita
Anita: (just as it sounds) is also a medical student from Perth, Australia  She is quiet and refined, yet plays an intense game of Mafia (or so I gathered). She is key in instigating activities and does a good job explaining rules.

 Arj: (a shortened version of his real name, and probably not the correct spelling) a medical student from Perth, Australia. I don’t know Arj well, but he seems quiet, intelligent, and kind. He has been very welcoming to me and willing to offer advice.  

Daphne, deep in thought
Daphne: a medical student from Melbourne, Australia is eager to join in activities and adds her lively character to the mix. 

Snayha: (not the right pronunciation) is a medical student from Melbourne, Australia (or was it Perth?) who gets very animated with just about everything, including Mafia. She also has been welcoming and friendly. 

Sateeah: (not how you spell his name, but kind of how you pronounce it) is a blond-haired, blue-eyed German medical student. He is brilliant and very interested in medical things and talks really quickly. He is eager to engage in conversation about anything, really.

Teresa enjoying a night of non-Indian food.
Teresa: a physical therapy student from the Netherlands (originally from Germany) is sweet, smart, and willing to show me around the town. She never seems to mind when I tag along on outings and is willing to answer all my silly questions about cultural faux pas. I know her the best, as I have spent the most time with her. She and Julian will be leaving in two weeks, and I know I will miss them.

Julian is excited about pizza
Julian: he is Teresa’s classmate (originally from Austria). He is quite, yet easy to converse with. Like Teresa, he is always willing to let me tag along and ask questions. He is pretty passionate about mountain climbing and slack-lining (that should help give you an idea of his personality), and is looking for ways to incorporate his passion into his career as a physical therapist.

Ivan, John, Martin: the three Norwegians. I do not know much about them other than they arrived from Norway yesterday and are medical students here for three weeks. I imagine I will get to know them a little better as our paths cross.

That is not all the international students I have met, but a good portion of those I know well enough to recall their names. J There is a German medical student here who I know, but for the life of me I cannot remember (or pronounce) his name… it sounds Indian, but he is blond with blue eyes.

I have also come to know some of the OT staff at CMC. I believe I am the only student to know, or spend any time with, CMC staff. I think the others are missing out. I have already mentioned Divya and Paul, but their friends have also become my friends, and they have been so incredibly good to me. I have some examples.
Mobile business: Divya took me to purchase a phone. She then found a SIM card from a friend that I am borrowing. Paul took me out to teach me how to “recharge” the SIM card, then dropped me off at Modale.
Lodging affairs: It is my understanding that they sent one of their good friends to see where I lived, and he determined it was too “dodgy” and that I was the only one there, which didn’t make him comfortable. Together they proceeded to find me new lodging. Today I was shown an apartment close to Paul and Divya’s that is available for half of what I am paying now. It is clean, but REALLY alone. Also, it is father from campus and I have really begun to enjoy the company of the international students. I have sent a request to the housing director to see if I can get housing on campus, which would be ideal. I pray for wisdom to make the right decision, and am thankful that I have some local friends looking out for me.
Clothing concerns: As it turns out, wearing a salwar kameez is pretty much the best option for Hospital life and life in general. Salwar kameez is the traditional garment that consists of baggy pants that taper at the ankle, and a long tunic-like top. Very comfortable. Kurtis (long tunic-like tops) are also worn at the hospital. Divya took me out across the city on their motorcycle to buy some clothes. Yes, I rode through the city on a motorcycle at break-neck speeds without a helmet at dusk. And I survived. J And I will be properly attired tomorrow.


Nishad and Elizabeth

Divya and Mansi


Biriyani for dinner
Upon returning home from shopping, Divya and Paul invited me to dinner with their “gang.” There are seven therapists that live in the same complex including Paul and Divya. Nobel (PT), Nishad (PT), and Sunil (PT) are all roommates and hosted dinner tonight, and Mansi (PT) and Elizabeth (OT) are roommates. The seven of them are like a little family that take care of one another, and they have graciously included me in their family. And for that, I am thankful!

Sitting around the dinner table
 Also, I am no longer alone in my little “home.” Seven Indonesian students arrived last night. I introduced myself last night, but have not seen them since. I do enjoy hearing them beating around the hotel and adding a little life. I look forward to getting to know them all during the course of their month-long stay.

As if friends and companions were not enough answer to prayer, I also have hot water and had a wonderful night’s sleep last night. I look forward to repeating that tonight. 


  1. I'm very curious about this "salwar kameez" you mention. Pictures please! :)

    It sounds like you've met some wonderful people--already so many answered prayers! Unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think! Love you, Em, and thanks for sharing this with all of us!

  2. FRIENDS! YAY! A happy looking lot indeed!

  3. Not to say that I wasn't a little concerned with your earlier missives regarding a rough patch when first arriving, but this rapid community building is exactly what I expected of you Leetle Beetle. It's a genetic trait, you don't know a stranger. Give our regards to your new friends and thank them for me for welcoming you.

  4. I must echo Dad's sentiments. I had no doubt that you would find friends fast. You are like Mom in that way. Please give my sincerest thanks to your new friends a and "family" for taking you under their wings.

  5. What a hoot! Challenging and difficult no doubt, but what a fun experience this will be! It is a shame that so many of them are short stay friends.

  6. Ted and i are enjoying your encounters with people and motorcycles. Be careful!! Ted says "New friends! Thank God for your mother!"