As an Indian born and raised in New Zealand, attempting to live and work in India as a young adult has been extremely eventful yet rewarding! Interning in Mumbai, a city so involved in my childhood summer visits to India, is a dream come true… yet it has its struggles at times! Here are three things I’ve experienced and learned as a Kiwi Indian coming to work and live in India:
Fellow Indian colleagues and students find an ‘overseas Indian’ interesting!
I do get a lot of questions about living abroad as an Indian… “what languages do you have to speak, what are the supermarkets like, how many Indians are there… do you know my friend from college?? He lives in New Zealand now… oh wait; he lives in Australia” :\
Many of my colleagues are also interested in how I balance Indian and Western cultures. It seems like this is something most of them are nervous about if they were to move their families overseas. It’s also been a privilege to explain New Zealand’s education and health systems alongside the perks of Kiwi culture that make the country what it is today! For instance, while our school times in New Zealand are significantly shorter than in India, my colleagues like how New Zealand schools push students to take on extracurricular activities and play sports
It’s easy to normalise the poverty and deprivation I see each day…
In New Zealand, when someone has a need… everyone chips in to help meet those needs! In India, it is very hard to display the same level of care for others in need simply due to the significantly larger scope and demand of needs! My grandfather always says, “even as an Indian, you get a culture shock each time you go,” and he is completely right! Seeing people in disadvantaged situations is overwhelming, and sometimes seeing so much of it makes it become ‘normal’. Thankfully, I’ve overcome this by realising that the work I do each day at my intern company (SNEHA) gives back to thousands of mothers and children in Mumbai.
I was wrong about homesickness!
As an Indian coming to India, I disregarded homesickness and never thought I would experience it! Food, language, cultural customs??? These were all things I was used to and knew of, but boy, I was wrong about homesickness – I experienced the most homesickness ever in my life during my first two weeks in India! For instance, for breakfast in New Zealand, I eat western foods… and most lunches too. But getting used to eating Indian foods at all three meals took a toll on my stomach! Work starts at 10-11AM here… and by then, I am ready for a midmorning snack or lunch. It was an accumulation of all of these minor changes, plus the need to always be on alert, that made me miss home in New Zealand….and I should mention my family too 🙂
Despite this… I can say that it does get better. All it takes is for you to build a routine! Moral of the story: don’t assume you won’t get homesick just because you’re familiar with the country!
It’s been so fun attempting to live and work in India, and I cannot wait to share more experiences during my time here!
Till next time,