Escaping my iCal addiction
By moving to India, Alison Pease will learn to live without a set schedule
Going abroad was not in my plan until one day, in between a meeting with a professor and a weekly coffee date with a friend, I decided out of the blue to go to India.
I’m a fairly predictable person. I value punctuality. I like to have a plan. When I take personality tests, the final result includes words like “planner” or “organized”. I once scheduled time to digest between dinner and going to the gym, giving it its own colored box in my iCal. And the obsession with my iCal does not end there. When I make dinner plans with friends, I add it immediately and send invites to my friends so that they remember as well. My closer friends refuse to respond in protest of this lifestyle.
Given this undeniable neurosis I suffer from, the choice to go abroad in the first place was, well, uncharacteristic of me. A believer in the 3-year plan, I have known exactly what classes I would take at AU from day one. Sure, I made changes, but they usually involved moving one required class from fall to spring semester. But for some reason I realized that I was bored with my impeccably planned future that day.
While some people may have remedied this by skipping a class or taking a random day trip to New York, I decided to go to Manipal University in India for a semester. For once, next week’s iCal is completely empty, reading only “India” for the next four and a half months. As much as I can plan and prepare, I have little knowledge of how I will be filling my time while I am there. I could go into Edward Hall’s dimensions of culture and views on monochronic and polychronic cultures to explain why my days of a perfectly scheduled routine are likely to end, but this will be more than just a cultural thing.
Studying abroad in India will be a challenge on many levels this semester, but living without my perfectly scheduled life is a challenge that I am looking forward to. Maybe I have watched Eat, Pray, Love too many times and this is my personal form of finding nirvana. Maybe I will arrive in India and find that I have the same hectic, over-scheduled life regardless of where I am in the world. Either way, I am excited to not only witness, but to join the Indian college experience.
Whether my perspective on plans and schedules changes completely or not at all remains to be seen, but I know the experience of going abroad will more importantly change my perspective on life. My classes will no doubt be interesting, but what I am really excited for is to see how students, including myself, live in Manipal. This isn’t to say that I want to treat everyone like a lab rat while I am there, but I wonder, when I come back to campus next semester what will seem different?
This is the semester to try new things, starting with my ridiculous schedule. When information for orientation arrived, I fought the urge to enter each session into the iCal. I’m quitting this addiction cold turkey. Alison Pease is a Senior in the School of International Service and is studying abroad beginning Aug. 18 in Manipal, India. She will be writing a monthly column about her abroad experience.