In short, the trip was lifechanging. I was able to experience many radically different things from backcountry hiking to urban life. I was learned a variety of new skills, including some professional skills like leadership and teamwork as well as practical skills such as wilderness camping and first aid. I loved meeting and working alongside a great group of fellow students from diverse backgrounds and leaning from well-seasoned instructors. My favorite highlights from the trip certainly include the main events like the trek and seeing the Taj Mahal, but I also enjoyed the smaller things like walking around Mussoorie, drinking chai every morning, and hearing the bird calls and monkeys chattering.
I definitely had a lot of awakening moments while on the trip. Many of them revolved around leadership and learning how I function as a leader or as part of a team. I learned some lessons the hard way, such as situational awareness and conflict resolution, but these lessons helped me grow as a person and better understand my personal strengths and where I need to improve.
While my academic career is coming to an end, I did see how I grew in that sense over the trip. I found myself feeling actively engaged in many of the activities, especially the first aid training (at least when I wasn’t accidentally dozing off from jetlag and long days). I normally am not as invested in my classes, but I enjoyed the content and found it very practical. I think the largest area of growth I experienced was in professional development and learning how to work in a team environment and navigate novel challenges that come up in different settings.
I know that the skills I gained will not go to waste. I plan on utilizing the leadership skills I gained in my career moving forward. I am looking for ways to implement them in my current job already and use them for advancing my career in the coming months. I learned valuable lessons in giving feedback as well, so I can be a better teammate and give my coworkers better positive feedback or critical feedback without harming our professional relationship. I also plan to carry the principles of Leave No Trace further in my life, and work on being a better model environmental steward and activist by practicing environmental ethics in both the front and backcountry.
I tried not to have many expectations before the trip, but I did have a few going into it. One of the things I was anticipating was constantly bad traffic, which did hold true in some places. What I did not expect was the chaotic driving. I mentioned this many times, but it still surprised and shocks me. When we were in Delhi, I remember not seeing many crosswalks and having difficulty just trying to cross the road without getting injured. I was also shocked at seeing animals like cows and sheep everywhere, even in cities or along highways. I knew that livestock and animals where very common, but I was not expecting them as much in urban areas.