And welcome to our blog detailing the experiences of the first Speech Pathology student group to undertake an overseas placement in Palampur, India.
We began our journey bright and early on the 19th of September with a fond farewell from little old Adelaide, embarking full of wonder (and a little apprehension) for what was to come. Following a seven-hour flight from Adelaide to Singapore we were obliged to partake in a sprightly jolt through Changi Airport to catch our connecting flight, which left us red-faced in more ways than one! Nonetheless we made it, arriving in Delhi at 8:35 and had our first taste of India. Call it an oxymoron, but the best and only way to describe the roads of Delhi (and indeed of all of India that we have seen) is ordered chaos. Amidst the cars, trucks, buses motorcycles, pedestrians, cows, horses, dogs and monkeys there is an underlying kinship which means that everyone, in time, will continue on their merry way. And we have had much exposure to these roads.
Day two of our trip saw us undertake a 14-hour bus trip through four different states in rain, mud, forest, goat-herds and gorgeous sunshine. We kept ourselves occupied with intermittent napping, periodic ‘Toyota leaps’ (much to the confusion of passing traffic) and rousing sing-a-longs. We maintain that the drivers were greatly entertained by our diverse repertoire drawn from the timeless songbooks of Disney, Queen and The Saddle Club. Whether or not our in-flight entertainment had any effect, our drivers were phenomenal, negotiating the twists and turns with the greatest of ease.
Once we arrived in Palampur, we were greeted by our gracious hosts, Amit and Bobby, who deserve any and every honour that it is possible to bestow. These two have worked tirelessly to ensure that our stay is safe, comfortable and productive. From sorting out bedding issues to assisting us with the purchase of sim cards and internet to serving as travel agents for our recreational activities, they have been invaluable and indefatigable in their humour, enthusiasm and generosity. And a glorious view of the nearby Himalayas certainly doesn’t hurt matters.
Our first day in Maranda, a town just beyond the border of Palampur, was a wonderful introduction. We were once again joined by Bobby and Amit who gave us a quick overview of the logistical details of each placement as well as helping us to settle in and organise some creature comforts. After that came some exploring of our own, followed by a guided tour of the markets of Palampur, including an introduction to the local public transport. We were all surprised at the diversity of Palampur, the balance between the traditional and the modern, and began to feel excited at the possibilities for resources to develop for each of our schools. The night concluded with a shared dinner at the local ‘Sky Room’ restaurant, an ice cream on the way home, and an early night before our first day of placement.
Currently, we have just concluded our second days at our respective schools. Though there are differences between the two, both institutions have welcomed us with open arms and have been eager to work with us to create placements that are beneficial for their students, the staff and ourselves. We are busily creating resources, writing session plans and trying to keep track of all of our ideas. We are all looking forward to the challenges and exciting times ahead. From all of us here in India, Good night.