After a missed connection in Paris, being redirected to Singapore, and losing our luggage, we made it to Mumbai…woo! Although adversity came our way, I feel like the group really connected through this. Not knowing many of the people before this trip, and having minimal class time to get to know each other, the 25 hours of flight time became a bonding experience. Nevertheless, I was ready to see the city of Bombay.
First, we went to the Reserve Bank of India. Being a little underdressed (because many didn’t pack our business clothing on our carryon suitcases) we walked into to a room of eight very, high-up people. It was a little intimidating for our first meeting, but I was interested to hear what they had to say. Although some were excited to hear about the differences in monetary policy and regulations, I was excited to hear about their opinions on demonetization.
Demonetization came as a shock to many Indians last November when the India’s Prime Minister said approximately 86% of India’s currency needed to be removed from circulation. The goal of this policy was to take out black money out of the market. Although there were many short term negative effects of this policy, they chose to focus on the positive. They continually talked about the long-term effects of the policy we were unable to see yet. Additionally, they praised the increase in digitization, but they did not mention much the long lines at the banks for changing money, the need to deposit cash into their bank account which many had to create for the first time, and the businesses that were not able to resume because of lack of usable money from their customers. Overall, the meeting was fascinating, but I knew they gave us only one side of the policy. I would need to learn about the other sides of this controversial issue throughout the rest of my trip.
After the Reserve Bank of India, we went to the National Stock Exchange of India. Honestly, investments are not my cup of tea, and after the exhaustion from our 3 days of flying, I was a little uninterested. However, the people we met had some curious things to say.
At night, there was a mixer scheduled with some local university students. I was incredibly eager for this event, though unsure of how social they would be. But my worries were put to rest very quickly at the start of dinner. Beginning with a more formal conversation, we moved to talking about similar interests in TV shows, traveling, and our social lives. We found common interests of what we watched growing up (Hannah Montana and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody) to how we felt about the ending of How I Met Your Mother. After dinner, we engaged in a social activity where we were broken up into small groups of both Indian and American students. We had to create a funny skit using an object that was in the room. My group created a dance based on a popular, Bollywood song involving glasses.
The end of the event was full of pictures and exchanging What’sApp and snapchats. A large group of our American students ended up meeting up with a large group of the Indian students the next night. Overall, this event showed me how little of differences there was between me and students who studied halfway across the world. It was an encouraging (and exhausting day), but was very excited for what was ahead!