Monday, January 6, 2014

Orientation: Day 1

     I'm not sure if this is what jet lag is, but sleeping was an adventure last night. We were all exhausted so went to bed at 8pm, thinking that we would have no trouble sleeping. Wrong. I found myself wide awake at 12:30am. I forced myself to try and sleep more, but ended up dozing on and off until around 4am. I gave up at that point and read more of The Hobbit and messaged Ralph for a while (finally). I did manage to go to sleep a bit again around 7am until about 8:30, upon which it was acceptable to start the day.
     Breakfast was small crustless sandwiches of tomatoes and cucumbers. I loved them but had to eat quite a few since they were so small. Tea was made too, of course.
     After breakfast it was time to start orientation. It took a while for everyone to get settled and for waivers to be signed, but eventually the lessons started. The IVHQ director went through a brief history of India, clothing, safety, rules of conduct to stay safe, marriage traditions, transportation, and religion.  Tea was then served so we had a little break. After tea, we got a short Hindi lesson of basic phrases and words, were given our placement information,  then it was time for lunch.
     Lunch consisted of rice, Indian tortillas (not naan, thinner), lentil soup, and a curry mixture of potatoes and cauliflower.
     After lunch, the people doing the half-day orientation left for their projects.  A few of us staying the week for orientation walked down to the market with a staff member to get SIM cards and phones and other items (like toilet paper!!) from a grocery store. The shopping center market doesn't look like much, but it turns out there is a store for almost everything so it's quite convenient.  Prices are inexpensive too: a bottle of water cost 18 rupees (1 US dollar = 62 rupees, so do the math). I purchased a 4 pack of toilet paper, a package of 82 baby wipes, some lychee juice, and a bottle of water for the equivalent of $5.60.  Why toilet paper and baby wipes? Well, they don't use toilet paper here or in other parts of Southeast Asia. The process is to use water on your hands and wipe around until things are sufficiently cleaned then wash your hands at the sink. I may eventually adapt to this since I will be here for so long, but I'm not ready yet lol One step at a time.
     I have a phone that can text and call, and it's prepaid so just deducts rupees per minute or message. I shouldn't have to use it too often though because....THERE IS FREE WIFI! I wasn't expecting it at the hostel, but figured we would only have it here since it was in a nicer part. It turns out that not only does the volunteer house have wifi, but all of the project placement host families also have it! There was a collective cheer from off of us volunteers when they told us lol
     Speaking of volunteers, it wasnt just us few in the hostel. There were about 25 of us at orientation this morning. Some arrived during the night from the airport, and a group arrived during the night from a weekend trip out and about. There are volunteers here from various cities in Australia (Melbourne, Perth, Canberra, and Sydney), various part of the US (California, Oregon, Iowa, Florida), Ireland, and Canada. We all speak english so it is convenient. 6 of us are doing the Health placement and will be staying with the same host family. The father is a doctor and has twin boys apparently. Once we get to our host house, we will be placed in a hospital with duties based on interest and qualifications. The director said the first week will be in the hospital then the next week will be set up in a camp at a mobile clinic. I believe the hospital week is this week, so I will be coming on to my project for the camp week. We did mobile clinics in Peru, so it will be interesting to compare the two.
     At the moment, I am sitting in my room waiting for dinner to finish. We had tea not long ago, and I do not have much of an appetite for dinner again. But as far as tea goes: it is served multiple times a day, is sweet, has milk in it, and is about the same shade of brown as coffee with creamer. I'm pretty sure it is chai tea, but it has less spices in it than the chai tea I'm used to in the US. I don't know if that is due to them making it milder for us, or if that is the normal way. I could taste a lot more of the spice, though, in the last cup I had this afternoon. In any case, it is delicious. The food is also not very spicy but apparently that is normal. The director told us that restaurant food is what is spicy but food in the home is mild and simple. So far, no stomach issues! Yay! It's also all vegetarian in the homes that IVHQ works with, with the majority of the food being carbohydrates.
     Tomorrow we go sightseeing at various places in New Delhi, which will be fun and interesting. I will update y'all on that adventure tomorrow.

Much love,


  1. Sounds like you are getting used to things quickly and as always, meeting new friends. I'm so glad to hear that you will have access to wifi, that way we can keep up with what is going on with you. Keep us posted and we send you much love!

  2. Previous comment was from Mom Sarah but I have showed your Dad how to access your blog. That way he can keep up with your adventures as well!!!!! Mom Sarah

  3. Keep up with your blog Alyssa because I want to read about your experiences and soon (in February) I will arrive and then to meet you in person!

  4. So awesome. Except maybe the whole bathroom thing lol. I'm so happy for you. And actually pretty jealous. I'm excited to hear all about it!