August 31, 2012 by Louis Ritzinger
First, the facts: My name is Louis. I’m a 24 year old graduate student at Georgetown University. A few months ago I was awarded a Boren Fellowship to spend a year studying Urdu in India. So, for the next nine months I will be living in Lucknow (September-January) and New Delhi (January-June) studying Urdu and learning as much as I can about the subcontinent, its people, their languages and vibrant culture. I will use this blog to document my experiences, feelings, and thoughts.
The name of this blog is derived from the sage advice of my mother, which is ignored at the traveler’s peril.
Now, the feely-stuff: I’m currently sitting in my room at my family’s house in Connecticut for what will be the last few hours in what feels like a very long time. “Last” has been the general theme for the past few weeks: the last day in my house in DC, the last time I’ll see certain relatives and friends, etc. Not forever, of course, but when something is unknown it tends to appear much larger (or, in this case, longer) than it may actually be – and there are certainly a lot of unknowns in this case: where, exactly, will I be living? What will my classes be like? Will I be able to find an apartment when I move to New Delhi and no longer have my housing arranged?
Perhaps the most daunting unknown, however, is the more general sense of unfamiliarity and foreignness. I have no reference points, no clear image in my head of what my life will be like in India, only a mishmash of anticipated sights and sounds picked up from the many articles and books I’ve read about the region over the years. My life for the next nine months consists mostly of shapeless blurs – things I know will be, but haven’t the slightest idea of how, exactly. The feeling of increasing disconnectedness with each (temporary) goodbye I say, as if with every hug and handshake I’m cutting another tether, is both liberating and unnerving. I’m equal parts thrilled and terrified.
My flight departs from Newark Liberty International Airport at 8:30 pm. Off into the void!
Wish me luck.