How to Study Abroad in India

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

India - it’s almost a dream, isn’t it? The enormous territory, and the even more enormous population. The religions, cultures, languages, foods, and people are as much a draw as the history, which is storied and ancient. Want to study abroad in India? You’ve researched flights to India, looked into programs, and are getting excited…

Goa. How to Study Abroad in India



Here are a few things you need to know:

How to Study Abroad in India



India is diverse! There are 28 states in India, and 22 official languages (although there are 1652 mother tongues spoken in India!). Don’t worry – the national languages are English and Hindi. The major religions in India include Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Christianity. There are many different ethnic groups, generally based on languages, instead of genetics.

India? It’s larger than life.

Lotus. India is larger than life! How to Study Abroad in India

Petals, Toil and Business at Dadar’s Phulgalli - The Lotus


How to Say Hello

The main way to greet people is by saying Namaste. You can also shake hands, or say hello. 



5 Senses

India will explode your senses! The smells, sounds, sights, tastes, and textiles will be overwhelming at first – and then you’ll become an old hand (while secretly marveling at the extremes of them all, such as the deliciousness of soft mango lassi to spicy curries). Stock up on fabrics before you go home – you’ll miss them terribly – the colors can’t be replicated anywhere else. Eat as much as you can – from street foods to homecooked meals. Take your daily chai break. Enjoy the sounds of India – what can you bring home?

Music in India. How to Study Abroad in India

Calcutta coffee house. How to Study Abroad in India
Calcutta Coffee House - Here under the high whirling ceiling fans and in the environs of these fading mildew covered brown walls sit tragic young writers, Marxists, philosophers, students, economists and now IT workers with puff-pastry egos; the air was thick with philosophical rantings as dense as the number on their glasses . More than any other coffeehouse, perhaps, the Kolkata's Coffee House exemplified the the Antelle attitude, a monument to the glory of Calcutta and its uplifting elixir, caffeine and the rich conversation it spewed.

What to eat?
Kya Hai Khane Mai? What's there to eat? How to Study Abroad in India

Badshah Cold-drink Depot Since 1905. How to Study Abroad in India

Badshah Cold-drink Depot Since 1905 - Famous for its world famous, thirst quenching, super cooling faloodas (kind of milk shake with ice cream).


What to Study

Well, of course if you’re into business, technology, or communications, India is the place to go to keep up with global trends and learn from the best. But there are plenty of other fields of study (countless!) in which India will teach you much – culture, religion, languages, history, medicine, public health, sociology, music, and more. 

Your university will have resources, so head in and ask your study abroad advisor. There are also study abroad programs at many universities and study abroad providers – if your university doesn’t have a direct program with India, they can help you find other programs and transfer credits. Want to start researching at midnight because you’re so excited? The University of Minnesota has a searchable study abroad database that includes many programs. 

Varanasi. How to Study Abroad in India

Down to the Ghats - Varanasi.

Colors in India. How to Study Abroad in India



Much has been written about safety in India, especially for women. Don’t be scared – do your research and be prepared. You should also read up on local laws, and know your rights. 

Good resources:
US State Department Information

SAFETI (Safety Abroad First - Educational Travel Information) 

Solo Woman Travel in India: Train Travel Safety Tips and Advisories

Safe travel strategies for women in India

11 Ways to Avoid Money Mishaps When Traveling in India



One of the best reasons to go to India? The opportunity to explore on weekends! There is much to see in India – big cities and small, ancient monuments and modern attractions. 

Travel within India! How to Study Abroad in India

The Green Ambassador meets the Himalayas

Srinagar Reflections. How to Study Abroad in India

Srinagar Reflections



India will astound you – and surprise you. There’s so much to see, experience, and learn. Be open to new things, change, and difference. There will be days where the cultural differences are too much, or you’ve got a case of Delhi Belly and things look bleak. Remember, there’s always light to the dark; learning abounds, and the choices are exciting and interesting. Things will look better, you will have experiences both good and bad, and India will change YOU – for the better.


How to Study Abroad in India

Floating Diya in Rishikesh


Need more inspiration? Buzzfeed has 51 reasons to study abroad in India


All photos courtesy and copyright flickr creative commons: Akshay Mahajan - explore his photos – they are amazing!