My first week in Ongole has had a vast range of emotions and experiences, some of which have been great others have really not. I have decided to be brutally honest in this blog as I have read some that only ever talk about the good side of this year which I don’t believe is fully representative and I want to be true to myself, and so anyone who reads this can get a better look into my life here.
The first few days in Ongole I found really tough, I felt very homesick and at some points even had to remind myself why I was doing this year. Ongole is very different from what I’m used to say the least, I come from a small green village where most people know each other and have little conversations when you see them. Ongole is a loud colourful dusty town with many odd looks for the two tall white girls who are sweating more than they thought possible in the heat. I think that the completely different culture is probably one of the reasons I am missing home so much as there is nothing that is similar to what I’m used to, which over the year I’m sure I’ll grow to love.
As the school has had exams this week there has not been too much for us to do which makes it hard to keep busy and not think of home and how much I miss my mum, brother and sister, I really hadn’t appreciated how much I need my family, which when I think about is odd as I have been away for them for longer than this, think it’s just the knowledge that it is for a lot longer than anything I have done before. To be honest I really didn’t expect to feel this homesick but I guess that just means I have a wonderful home to go back to.
But everyone has been very kind to us which definitely makes it easier and all of the children as adorable and say “Morning Mam” whenever we walk past which makes me more excited to start teaching and the fact that even though it will be scary it will definitely keep us busy! I also find it funny how the first thing that is asked by everyone once that have worked out the pronunciation of Hannah is “What is your fathers job?” and all of my family’s names.
Another thing I have actually really struggled to deal with is the way that teachers here discipline the kids as it can be quite violent. And how they only seem to respect you if you have a cane in your hand. But hopefully when I’m teaching I will be able I show that this is not needed to make them learn.
Kalyani, one of the friendliest English teachers here who has been kindly looking after us took us to get clothes after being in Ongole 4 days, I think she must have realised that Catherine and I had been wearing the same trousers all week. We both got two Punjab suits and when we were at the market we were told that we would be going to a wedding on Saturday so had to get a “party outfit”. So no saree as of yet but hopefully we will get one next week.
On Friday we were both left to manage classes individually as they needed to revise for their exams. It amazes me the working hours of the kids here as class start at 9-12 then a lunch break before going back to between 1.30-4.25 and 5.30-7.30! I can’t imagine that any UK schools have primary school kids doing this let alone 6 times a week (Monday to Saturday)
On Saturday after invigilating a Social exam we went to our first India Muslim wedding. Just the drive there is an old bus that struggled to get over speed bumps was an experience. But the colours at the wedding were so bright and all of the woman looked beautiful in their sarees.
After another week of exams we have a holiday so at the moment we are trying to figure out where to go for a week. I’ll keep you updated!