Our Indian adventure started officially on Monday, when we arrived to Manipal, around 2pm. We were accompanied to our rooms by the staff of the International Hostel, they assigned us a place in the guests block. The rooms are modern and clean, each of them has an ensuite bathroom and an air conditioning system, which proves to be very useful to escape the heat. After a quick shower some of us paid a visit to the library to get the passport size pictures that we will need later on in order to get our student cards and the access cards to the gym complex, Marena. When we finally managed to get them, we met at the entrance of the main building with our lecturers and we visited the International Office all together. After filling in different forms, the Assistant Professor of the Department of Exercise and Sports Science Prabu Raja, showed us a series of videos about the university. We then head to Marena to meet our Indian buddies, the second year MSc Exercise and Sports Science students who gave us a tour of the complex. We then went for dinner at the Food Court, the student canteen on campus, where they helped out figure out what the Indian names meant, so that we were able to order something that was not too spicy. Once we were done with our meal we head back to the International Hostel to get some sleep after our tiring journey.
The alarm rang at 5:30 am as we need to be at the Marena before 6am. We did some exercises in pairs and played basketball for two following hours. Our buddies took us at a café just outside campus for breakfast. We got some dosas which are very similar to crepes and come with two sauces, a spicy one and one made of yoghurt. After a quick shower we went to class at 10:30 where our lecturers gave us a briefing on the project, to make the Manipal students aware of what we had been working on for the past six months. We then went sightseeing to the end point and to the Museum of Anatomy and Pathology. In the afternoon we played some team building activities, at first we were in a class and then on a stage outside. The Indian students taught us Garba, a regional folk dance of Gujarat, and we taught them Ceilidh dancing. It was so exciting to see something so typical of the Indian culture, and it was really rewarding to provide them with something equally strong and equally loved about the Scottish one.
After the 6am sports session, we gathered in the seminar room where we met the previous morning and we run a presentation on what each discipline was intending to do in the project. The Manipal students gave us an overview of how we can fit our ideas and proposals in the local context. The afternoon was spent brainstorming all together and trying to work out how to run our project week, which coincides with week 3 of our permanence in Manipal. We will have a main event which will be held on Friday the 9th September at a local school. During that day we will be running a series of activities revolving around athletics, to teach the pupils the fundamentals of sport and to make them aware of the benefits of a healthy diet. During the same week, prior to the event, we will be attending the school, where we will deliver fun sport activities for the children. Another aim is to persuade their parents to come along to our festival on Friday, being the most influential presence in a kid’s life and directing their nutrition and daily schedule. This brainstorming session among all of us students proved to be very useful, and made us get a step forward in the definition of what our activities will be like during the week where we will deliver the project.
Sport at 6am and breakfast got us ready for an intense day. The Manipal students decided teach us the basics of Kannada, which is the local language of the area, spoken within a district in Karnataka State. It proved to be a useful and extremely entertaining activity, as we will need it during project week, as not all the children are able to speak and understand English. It also allowed us to get an insight in their language, a fundamental aspect of the life of people in Manipal. The rest of the day was spent outlining the logistics of the project and defining the activities for project week. Organising such activities revealed to be very challenging, as we kept understanding that there was always more to take into account, especially in terms of resources, budget, locations and permissions. Little by little, we felt we were starting to ticking some of the boxes.
At the meeting
Woke up fresh for the usual 6am sport session, and reached our breakfast with very hungry bellies. After that, we kindly got invited by the Dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences to attend a meeting in his office. He expressed his excitement towards the project, and provided us with some background on the school, emphasizing how sport has always been a subject in the shadow in the Indian culture, with parents preferring to direct their children towards other more established faculties. Despite this, the School of Allied Health Sciences has constantly grown in the number of students attending it, and today it is one of the faculties with the largest student community. Back to the seminar room, each RGU discipline presented their strategy and role in the project whereas the Manipal students told us a little about themselves and explained why they are so keen in taking part into the project. In the afternoon we went for a really exciting trip to city of Udupi, where we took part in the celebration of Lord Krishna’s birth anniversary, also known as Janmashtami. Check out our blog post about this to know more!
On the way to Udupi
Taking a break from project planning, our counterparts organised a day out for the whole team. They took us to Akuna Matata beach, on the shores of the Arabian Sea, a natural paradise made of a mixture of tall green palm trees filled with coconuts and yellow grainy sands. There, we hired a beach hut. The heat did not leave us any other choice but to go for a swim, while our buddies were making sure we were safe. Back to the hut, we chilled and had an awesome lunch, composed of Biryani rice, onion Raita and Naan bread. We then played games all together that helped us bonding even more with these amazing people.
It has been a wonderful week overall, and we could not be happier about the integration with the Manipal students and the activities we have done together. Project planning is challenging but fun, and we are looking forward to see what next week will bring.