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Friday 20 August 2004
Working abroad: Andrew Webster
Written by Andrew Webster, AIESEC member
Andrew with friends
Andrew with friends in India

Andrew Webster is working in India this summer.

He's on a placement with the AIESEC student organisation, and he's 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.

View a printable version of this page.
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I've felt slightly frustrated over my last week in India, feeling like I have seen very little, and a two month trip to a place as vast as India seems almost pointless. Saying that, I have realised what great friends I have made and fantastic times I have had and feel a real sense of achievement for all I have achieved.

An irrelevant coincidence

I was at Vijit's 20th birthday party on Saturday, which incidentally was another great night spent with numerous trainees. I even got to the stage where I had a slight stagger and made some inappropriate jokes. But anyway, there were some trainees who were working in Chandigarh and visiting Delhi for Independence Day and a "decent night out". I got to chatting to one of them and, as you do, asked,
"So where are you from?"
"Cool, that's where I'm going next week."
"Really? Whereabouts?"
"A place called Fowey, my dad owns a boat down there."
"Ha, that's where I'm from! Regatta week, right?"
"Yeah, blimey. Small world."
This is totally irrelevant but I find it highly amusing... The population of Fowey is around 2000 and the population of India is 1 billion - by some strange coincidence our paths crossed at a house party in Delhi, to talk about an insignificant boat festival on the Cornish coast. He was only the fifth Brit I had met in the whole of my stay.

Finishing with AIESEC

With the new members selected, all that remained was the introductory training seminar. It was two days of intensive learning, and a great thing to be a part of, especially when you consider I had been a major part in making the recruitment happen.

At the end of the two days, the Executive Board did a presentation thanking me for the work I had done over the past two months, and gave me an AIESEC T-shirt as a present. It was one of the definite highlights of my trip, as it was a total surprise and really made me realise what a difficult but rewarding experience this had been. I know I leave India with far more friends than I arrived with and that's a great feeling.

Independence Day

Did you know that 15 August is India's Independence Day, and 59 years ago India was under British colonial rule. It's not something I have ever given much thought I have to admit, although I'm sometimes reminded by my Indian friends, especially when I complain about being ripped off, "You were ripping us off for 200 years Andrew, 200 years..." All in the best of spirits of course!

India Gate
India Gate

Anyway I thought I should somehow acknowledge the event, so in the evening around 9pm I headed down to India Gate to see if anything was going on. I think this is my favourite part of Delhi. India Gate is the huge archway built at the end of the Second World War in order to commemorate Indian soldiers lost in the war.

It stands at the end of a long road called Rajpath and at the other end is Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President's house and just adjacent to that is the parliament building. It's a totally structured design similar to the setup of Washington DC. What this means is that either side of this long road, Rajpath, is designated parkland which is free for everyone to use.

On this particular night, the park areas all the way from India Gate to the President's house were packed with families picnicking and spending time together. It was such a pleasant atmosphere, and good to know that either side of me could be both the richest and poorest families in India.


I have had a couple of set backs in the last week. It seems just as I have tried to get things done, something has happened which has stumped my progress. It's been, if I'm honest, highly demoralising, and I've taken it as signs that it's time to go home.

For instance, come Monday, all my AIESEC work was finished and I decided I would finally book a trip to Rishikesh and Haridwar, a trip I had already had to cancel a couple of times. After taking the 12km journey to the station, I was told by the tourist bureau I needed a passport to book a ticket.

No worries I would simply book them at the same place as everyone else. Two 30-minute queues later, I still had no ticket, and was becoming quite unsightly and uncomfortable from the heat. I went back to the tourist bureau to ask where the office that actually sold tickets was. The man behind the desk then told me that I needed a passport to book tickets and anyway the train I wanted had no remaining reserved space. Fantastic - two hours wasted at the station.

I immediately spoke to Vijit to ask about alternative ways of getting to Haridwar that night, only for him to say, "you should have told me you wanted to go when we spoke earlier, my brother has just left on business, you could of gone with him"!

Everything is of course my fault, as someone said, "why didn't you just book your tickets on the internet a couple of days back?" which was of no help at all but a fair point.

A slight bit of organisation and I would be significantly happier at this very moment. But everyone seems to get days like that here in India. Poor Phillipe - in two sneezes had two different pairs of glasses catapult from his face to the floor and smash into tiny pieces all in about an hour. I mean what are the chances? Incidentally it was Friday the 13th which is a bit creepy, but once again, with a sigh, you just have to say, "it's all part of the experience".

Saying goodbye

At the restaurant
Night out

For my last night, some AIESEC members and trainees joined me for a meal at an Italian restaurant.

Coincidently it was the same restaurant as I had my first meal when I had arrived in Delhi, and the area looked significantly different to how I remembered. When I was there last, I felt on edge and it looked slightly foreign and even run down to me, but now it seemed like a really nice place.

After the meal, we went onto a bar which had the best DJ in the world. It was even hard not to feel slightly emotional with Guns n Roses and Dire Straits blaring out the speakers. It was a great way to finish my trip, and quite touching to see how many new people I had met, and now knew quite well. It's the network of trainees and nights like this that I will miss most about India I think.

Final thoughts

To be honest I have never missed the UK as much as I have over the last couple of months: just the simple structures and stable climate, so in many ways it's comforting to go home.

However, it feels like I have hardly even begun with India; it's such a diverse, huge and unique country, that its almost like going to a museum half an hour before closing, or reading the first page of a good book. I'd like to be here on a longer traineeship when I'd have a lot more time to adjust to the differences, learn about the culture and see some of the amazing places it has to offer.

In many ways its been the most challenging 2 months of my life, but I leave feeling like I've been on a big adventure, where everyday has held something completely different and exciting. I've made so many friends, and have memories that will last a lifetime. What's more it's simply increased my appetite to see India and I know I will be back as soon as I can.

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