Volunteering is an incredibly exciting prospect, but it can also be daunting. If you’re going to a different country, you’re volunteering for the first time, or you’re swapping day to day life at home for a completely different culture, you may find that you approach a project with a mixture of excitement and apprehension.
If you’re preparing to be a volunteer in India for the first time, this guide will hopefully provide you with useful information about what you can expect when you arrive, what it’s like being a volunteer in India and how you can prepare for your first volunteering program.
What it’s like being a volunteer in India for the first time?
There are myriad types of volunteering project, and every volunteer will enjoy a unique experience in India. Whether you’re mentoring or teaching, building structures or trying to connect communities, you’re in for an adventure. Being a volunteer in any country will treat you to an experience you’re never likely to forget.
Living in India may be very different to what you’re used to at home, and cultural differences may be the first thing you notice.
You will probably find that your day to day life takes a dramatically different direction. At first, this may seem scary, but as you adjust, hopefully, you’ll find living in a different country and embracing a new culture rewarding and enriching.
Before you travel to India, it’s worth doing some research to find out more about the culture and what your daily life is likely to entail once you land and start volunteering. This will enable you to prepare in advance.
The sights and sounds you enjoy in your new temporary home may be completely different to what you’re used to. Although this can be daunting, it can also be a really valuable educational experience and an opportunity to learn more about a different and diverse culture and get to know the people around you.
From traffic to poverty, there may be a lot to take in, and you shouldn’t worry if you feel overwhelmed for the first couple of days. If you’re going through a major change, it takes time to adjust and adapt, so hang on in there and try to enjoy every moment.
The time you spend volunteering in India may be very different to the way you spend the rest of your time. If you’re based at a school, an orphanage, a community centre, a hospital or an animal sanctuary, for example, you may be facing tough experiences on a regular basis.
Although the majority of your time may be devoted to a project, there will be downtime, so try and take advantage of opportunities to get involved in community life, see the sights and forge friendships with fellow volunteers and travellers you encounter along the way.
Living in a different country can take you out of your comfort zone, and it’s normal to have days when you feel homesick, or you crave creature comforts you’re used to at home. Remember that every volunteer should have access to a support network. If you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
There may be days that are difficult, but the highs should outweigh the lows. Use the support systems around you and take advantage of the opportunity to make new friends.
If you have a bit of spare time, try and live like the locals and embrace traditions and try new activities. The way you spend your time may be very different to what you do at home on a free weekend, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Use the time you have to make the experience even more memorable and worthwhile. Travel around and take on new challenges.
What to expect when you arrive in India?
One of the most appealing aspects of volunteering is getting the chance to travel to a different country and India is a destination that affords volunteers a veritable array of experiences.
The culture is unique, there are dazzling sights and attractions dotted around the country, and there’s a chance to immerse yourself in an experience that is likely to change you for the good.
It’s probable that every volunteer feels a degree of trepidation when the time comes to board that plane and take that leap. If it’s your first time, the prospect of being away and trying to adjust to a new culture and a different home can be particularly scary.
No amount of reading will dictate exactly how you will feel when you first touch down on Indian soil, collect your bags and leave the airport, but research and talking to people who have been to India can help to give you an idea of what you’re in for.
We all have perceptions and ideas about different countries, but they can often be proven wrong. Do some research online, don’t be afraid to ask the organisers of the project questions, and try and learn more about the area you’re visiting. The cities in India are very different to the rural communities.
During the first few days of your time in India, you may be taken aback by the views and the sights you see as you meander around city streets or get used to village life. What you see in front of you may be worlds away from what you’re used to?
Poverty is clear to see, but there are incredibly affluent areas in India, and it’s by no means a country that is struggling to emerge from the dark ages. There’s a perception that life is hectic, but this is not the case everywhere you go. Just as cities, towns and villages differ in other countries, there are plenty of serene spots far away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Delhi or Mumbai.
One thing to note when you’re travelling in India is the concept of time. If you’re used to arriving at meetings ten minutes before the scheduled start time, or you live your life according to seconds or minutes rather than hours or days, life in India will be a new experience for you.
Time is often not as restrictive as it may be at home. If you agree to meet somebody at 4 pm, don’t be surprised if they’re not there at 4 o’clock on the dot. Things tend to take time in India, and the sooner you adapt to this way of life, the better.
When you start volunteering, you should be introduced to fellow volunteers, as well as others involved in running the project. Use this time to form relationships, find out more about what you’re going to be doing over the course of the next few days, weeks or months and get used to a rough schedule.
Many of us have ideas about experiences before we undertake them, but try and be open-minded when the start date of your volunteering project is looming. Be open to the new experiences you’re going to undertake, don’t be afraid to throw yourself into every challenge and try and make the most of every day you have.
Be willing to meet new people, share stories and tales and really get to grips with the culture, as well as enjoying every benefit of the time you spend volunteering.
Preparing for your first volunteering project in India.
Doing some research before you travel can be valuable, as it enables you to prepare yourself mentally and to approach the trip from a practical angle. The reality is that you may be spending a prolonged period of time in a place that is very different to home, and this may make packing and surviving those first few days a daunting task.
Think about where you’re going in India and what you’re going to be doing when you’re writing a list of items that you need to buy or pack. It’s worth talking to other volunteers and the people in charge of the project to get some tips that will ensure you have everything you need from the outset.
When you arrive in India, you want to get settled as soon as possible, so it’s a good idea to change some currency in advance and to take a cellphone, which you can put an Indian SIM in to enable you to make calls and send messages as soon as you land. If you have access to an Internet connection where you’re staying, you can use email, social media and video calling to keep in touch with loved ones free of charge.
If you don’t have transport from the airport arranged by the organisation for which you’re volunteering, find out the best ways to get from the airport to your lodgings in advance. This will save time and stress when you land.
Volunteering offers a raft of benefits and opportunities, but there’s no doubt that the prospect of going to India for your first volunteer project can provoke mixed emotions.
It’s normal to feel anxious, especially if you’re preparing for an experience that is worlds away from your daily life at home. Hopefully, this guide will enable you to prepare as effectively as possible and make the most of every moment you have in India.
For more information visit : https://www.volunteerindiaispiice.com