Chennai, India

woman in india

Chennai, India

Chennai, India

Where and How: I lived in Chennai, India, for six months, working with a nonprofit that runs a few village schools and after-school programs in the state of Tamil Nadu. I did that for the first three months, then had enough time and local connections to start doing some freelance editing while traveling around a bit more of India and Nepal for my last three months.

Best Advice: India is overwhelming. Don't be afraid, but keep your eyes open. The more you feel like an outsider, the more you look like one and are likely to be taken advantage of. Don't allow anyone (e.g., auto drivers!) to push you around, and don't let yourself hold a few negative experiences against everyone else. I actually often ended up avoiding other non-Indians there because they only ever wanted to complain. I worked, lived and celebrated with only Indians, ate and dressed like a local, picked up as much of the language as I could, etc. Be prepared to have your heart pulled in a thousand directions at once, because that's what India does. It's terrifying and unbelievably fantastic all at the same time.

-- Kate Musgrave, IndependentTraveler.com reader

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