As we move half way through our second week in Manipal, we are closing in on the final stages of our project plan. Though it feels like it has been a long and drawn out process, I can’t help feeling a sense of pride in the work we’ve accomplished in such a short period of time. It feels like our RGU Go: India team has gelled very quickly over the past few months, and particularly in our first week in India. Though the project started a long way back in November, through being on an ERASMUS+ exchange in Finland, my contact with the team had predominantly been digital, so it was nice to finally get a chance to spend time face to face with the other members of the team. We left Aberdeen in the early hours of Sunday morning, and after stops in Paris and Mumbai, we arrived in Mangalore where a bus took us from the airport to Manipal University. Even though we were only outside for a brief period of time before boarding the bus, we were able to experience several environmental changes that we have grown used to over the past week, the humidity and the rain. Being from Scotland originally, heat is not something that I’m overly used to, so being in a state of consistent heat was a relatively new, and honestly, uncomfortable experience. I can safely say, that during my time in India I have grown used to feeling warm almost all of the time. We arrived at the university, tired and with a busy schedule. We firstly had a tour of the campus before the most exciting part of the day, meeting our Indian counterparts. As part of our project, we would be working very closely with Sport and Exercise Science Students from Manipal and thusly, we were assigned a buddy for us to communicate with prior to arrival. Meeting all of the students was a pleasant experience and it was nice to learn more about the city I’d be calling home for the next three weeks from a group of the nicest, and most welcoming people I’ve ever met. The first and most noticeable cultural change that I noticed between Scotland and India was the traffic. It seemed that everyone and their dog owned a motorbike, that is, when the dogs aren’t running in the streets in packs! There is a shockingly minimal amount of traffic lights, however there is an abundance of car and bike horns being used. To cross the road is to take your life into your own hands… As one of two Sport and Exercise Science students coming from RGU, my main roles in the initiative is to support the main aims and objectives of the group using my knowledge and experience. My experience that will be of most use is coaching skills learned during my time in college and university, along with coaching, We will also be looking to support the nutritionists in their aims and help the media group with anything that they require of us. Personally, I would like to gain success in this project for many reasons, primarily due to the fact that this is a new initiative that RGU is trying and I would like to reward RGU and the British Councils faith in us with a positive result. Furthermore I would want to be successful in this project as it would be gratifying to have come to a foreign country and successfully implement a project that is beneficial to the health and wellbeing of the local people. Along with this, being part of the first ever RGU Go: India team to take part in this project is a great honour, and hopefully, the project will prove successful and the project will run for many more years, so that more students can experience what I have been allowed to experience, more people in India will benefit from the students from RGU and finally creating and maintaining links with Manipal university and its students, so that perhaps we will see our new friends in Aberdeen in the future!
My time in Manipal so far has been an amazing roller coaster ride – and we haven’t even been here for two weeks yet. Since stepping off the plane in Mangalore to having just recently finished our initiative presentation in the second week, I have experienced and seen some magnificent things and met some wonderful people. Firstly, our buddies have been such a great help to us since arriving and have been tremendously welcoming. They have taken us all under their wings and certainly made the first couple of days a lot easier for us. Manipal isn’t particularly big, however, the way we have to do things and what we have to wear and where we go at certain times, was certainly a huge worry for me prior to arrival. My buddy, Sarosh, has been great in alleviating all of those worries. He has taken me around the town during his own free time and I think it’s great that he has been so generous to provide me with all of the information I required, especially when arrived. I had previously been told before arriving that people from India are truly welcoming and friendly and Sarosh and his fellow students have certainly lived up to that. Our buddies also took us to the festival and the beach which was a lot of fun! Both of the trips gave me a greater insight to how people from India work, relax, celebrate and also drive! What was important about those trips was learning about a very diverse but amazing culture and getting a few days rest in what has so far been a busy schedule. Now that we are well into the second week, we are dedicating all of our time to planning our project . Just like everyone that is part of the project, I came to Manipal with very ambitious ideas that I was almost certain would be used as part of our initiative. However, one of the things I realised in the first week when we were discussing our ideas was that we don’t have the time nor the facilities to execute these ideas. I believe everyone else has the same thoughts. So immediately we, as a group, had to collect our thoughts and put them on to a smaller scale. Another problem that I had personally was comparing our project to closely to the Aberdeen Youth Games, which I recently was a part of during my last semester in second year. Despite this project and the Youth Games having a link in terms of aims and structure, there is no way we could create an initiative like that in one week. Now, we have created a project that is a lot more realistic and certainly one that is going to be successful. By visiting the school that we will be using for our project, I gained a sense of perspective and it helped me visualise our project better. As we are approaching our week of the project, I am getting more and more excited as our ideas are getting finalised and all of the sports science team are on the same wave length. One thing I look to get out of this project is experience of coaching in an environment I am totally unfamiliar with. I believe that coaching kids in a completely different country with different values and culture will only improve my coaching in general and how I adapt my sessions to suit the demands of the kids. It will also give me a better idea of how to plan sessions and also sporting events. More importantly, I want to develop a personal link with the students in Manipal. They all offer their own individual qualities and knowledge which I can hopefully take full advantage of in the future if I’m ever needing help in the sports science field. I also want to be part of a project that links RGU with Manipal University which will be developed into something that is recognised in both countries. Then when people look back on how the project has grown, I want my name to be part of the people that initially created it.