Throughout the past two weeks, I’ve been learning how transition brings positive challenge. Pre-Diwali break marked exams for Emerald Heights. Although most kids took exams in all six of their subjects, I took just one- English. For 12th grade (in which I take classes), these exams were the first set of pre boards, mock exams for the very important board exams taking place in March.
As an exchange student, teachers are very accommodating, especially since our main focus is Hindi. Everyone reassured me that there was no pressure at all for my exam, and I should enjoy it instead of taking it seriously. Particularly because it was my single exam, and it was English, I still wanted to do well! Luckily, since we arrived after most of the syllabus was completed, I only had to complete the first two parts of the test.
The day of the test, we were given a little bit of prep time before starting. The teacher suggested everyone to close their books and meditate, which received some scattered nervous laughter, but I don’t think anyone actually stopped studying. It seemed like a great idea to me (I’d never actually gotten the textbook.) The exam began with a siren, and lasted about three hours. Besides reading comprehension, I was given multiple writing prompts to respond to with a specific format (report, formal invitation, refusal to a formal invitation to name a few). A lot of these prompts were India-specific, and I did the best I could (and tried to have some fun) writing about Domino’s in the Mumbai underground stations and interstate transportation.Taking an exam alongside my peers helped me further bond and understand how school works here.
Besides my one day of testing, the exam period has been a time to relax for us NSLI-Y girls. There is no activity period, so we come each day in the little kids’ second shift busses. Besides being able to sleep in almost two extra hours, starting off my day surrounded by four and five year olds always makes me smile. After Hindi, there are no academic classes, so I’ve started swimming after school. The coach is very lenient, and I’m free to swim for however long works. We spend a lot of reading outside, as well as extra studying.
This past week was Emerald Heights’ annual function, four days of performances by the kids in nursery school through fifth grade. Two out of the four nights we got to stay after and watch the adorable dance performances. Each was of course preceded by one of the kids giving a very formal (and cute) English introduction. The dances ranged from traditional Indian dance about Lord Shiva, to Pinochhio style puppet dancing. Everyone at school continues to be super welcoming and sweet. The fourth night we were invited (told we were going) as a surprise, and not having anything besides our uniforms, kind boarders lent us beautiful kurtis to wear!
Just in time for Diwali, I have shifted to live with a family of professors (sound familiar?) on the campus of the Indian Institute of Management Indore. The campus is a bit far out of the city, but very close to school, and I’m loving it so far! There is a sizable library, swimming pool, post office to mail my letters home, and lots of space in nature to walk around. I like the city of Indore, but shifting to an environment that’s a bit calmer also has its perks. Living with a brand new family three months into exchange was nerve-wracking at first, but I am so excited to spend time with them, especially for Diwali break.