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Monday 14 July 2004
Working abroad: Andrew Webster
Written by Andrew Webster, AIESEC member
Andrew with local people
Andrew with local people

Andrew Webster is travelling to India this summer.

He's travelling with the AIESEC student organisation, and he'll be writing a regular diary on BBC Birmingham.


Stevie Cameron
Stevie's in The Philippines.
Diary 1
Diary 2
CSR Conference
Diary 3
Diary 4

Andrew Webster
Andrew's in India.
Diary 1
Diary 2
Culture Shock!
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

Jess Rudkin
Jess is working in the Czech Republic.
Diary 1
Diary 2
Diary 3
Diary 4
Diary 5

James Eder
James is sharing his marketing skills with local people in Colombia.
Diary 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
Diary 6 - Aims
Diary 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11
Diary 12 - 13 - 14 - 15
Diary 16 - 17 - 18 - 19

Working with AIESEC
Jame Eder introduces the student organisation.

AIESEC in Birmingham
Amaneeta Shokur explains more about AIESEC and how she is involved.

Scheila came to Birmingham from Brazil on a student scheme run by AIESEC.

Students index

Profile of the country from BBC News.

Official website for the UK.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.



Population: 1 billion
(UN, 2003)
Capital: New Delhi
Major languages: Hindi, English and 17 other official languages
Major religions: Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism
Monetary unit: 1 Indian Rupee = 100 paise
Exports: Agricultural products, textiles, gems and jewellery, software and technology, engineering goods, chemicals, leather


AIESEC (pronounced "i-sek") stands for the Association for the International Exchange of Students in Economics and Commerce.

AIESEC is the world's largest international student organisation with 30,000 members in over 86 countries.

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I have been in India just over two weeks now and in that time I have had more unique experiences than I think I have had in my 20 years prior to coming here. I have spent time in the capital city Delhi, but also spent over 100 hours travelling in far from luxurious conditions over the length of the country. I have met people from all reaches of the world, all of whom have a different perspective on this charismatic country. A wise Englishman gave me one piece of advice, "Expect nothing and be prepared for everything" and there has never been a truer word spoken.

Disasterous arrival


I had been in India 10 minutes when the car broke down. AIESEC members had picked me up from the airport, and we were on our way into the city. Before we had come to a standstill in the middle of the crossroads, I had been gripping the handle above my head tightly.

Driving seemed so unstructured and even crazy to my western eyes. There seemed to be no concept of lanes, overtaking could only be described as random and risky and although traffic lights existed, they seemed to be widely ignored.

The first thing I noticed as we started to push the car to the side of the road, just next to the ubiquitous cow, was the power of the heat. Sweat was being produced by the gallon and I felt quite drowsy. This was no time to be un-alert though, as the other cars, motorbikes and rickshaws swerved round us narrowly missing as if they were totally oblivious to our situation. When the car started again I had been in India nearly half an hour.

Train ride to Bangalore

The train journey to Bangalore had been talked about with great fear ever since I had arrived - 44 hours, third class with no air conditioning.

In the four days I had been in India, I had tried a lot of Indian food, so it was unfortunate that I had to get my first taste of 'Delhi Belly' on the same day as such a mammoth journey. Wired on medicine, I set off to Bangalore with my new Indian friends.

Sleeping on a bunk on the train
Sleeping on a bunk

We were lucky because we had reserved bunks on the train, but many others weren't so lucky. Before long the train was more crowded than a rush hour tube. The floor was littered with sleeping bodies, and bunks were filled with as many as six people.

When I woke up after the first night people were sitting round me on my bed, simply because they had no where else to be. Although this might sound like a quite unpleasant experience, I was loving every minute - simply because it was so different to anything I had ever seen before.

Bangalore is a great city. There are areas which are so cosmopolitan and commercial - you might mistake them for being on Piccadilly Circus or Times Square. However it does not lose any of its Indian charm. I was lucky enough to see a great deal of the city when a rickshaw I was taking got lost. The driver spent the next 45 minutes driving round asking pedestrians for directions! It's all part of the experience...

The conference

People at the conference
Students at the conference

The AIESEC Indian National Conference was one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had. AIESEC members from all over India had come together for one week in Bangalore.

It really brought home the diversity of India, with the south being so different to the north, in terms of language food and culture. Despite these differences it was really refreshing to be so far from home, living in such a different reality and to still find a group of people so forward-looking and open-minded.

New friends

People at the conference
New friends (Andrew's at the back)

Indian people have been amazing to me ever since I got here. They've been so welcoming, taking me into their homes and feeding me more food than any man could ever eat. Everyone I have met has been so interested in finding out more about me and the UK, and they are always keen to share their own culture. In any situation that could be potentially intimidating, my new friends have reassured me and made me feel as safe as I would feel in my own home.


People on beach
At the beach

Although some of the experiences I have described might sound a bit out of the ordinary, I have enjoyed every one. It is experiences like these that give India so much character and make it such an addictive place to be. I feel like I have been on a twenty day adventure, where the 'normal' is definitely the unexpected.

I am only a quarter way through my trip, so who knows what tomorrow will bring let alone the next six weeks. One things for sure though, I can't wait to find out.

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Written by Andrew Webster

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