"Why my year in industry placement in my home country is not what you might expect - because it definitely wasn’t what I expected" - Srishti Jain
I found out that I was being considered for a Year in Industry placement in the most extraordinary way. Being a new format of placements in India, I wasn’t expecting much (or anything, rather) from my speculative applications requesting a placement at the top pharmaceutical companies in India. I applied just to revel in the satisfaction of endeavour, and forgot about the emails soon after pressing the send button. I was eating stale pizza from the day before when I got a call confirming an interview with Dr. Reddy's Laboratories and within what was a whirlwind month consisting of innumerable emails and calls, I had an offer! I was going to work for 8 months in their biggest facility at Hyderabad, India. Congratulatory messages started pouring in; a large majority of them took the form of 'Oh my god! You're going to be living at home for a year!'. Let me just say it for the benefit of everyone, India is the seventh largest country in the world, and the journey from where I am currently working to my hometown is a 3-hour flight. I have been working for three months now and this is my first time living alone in my country.
I discovered my potential...
I had completed two years of my Physiology course before embarking upon my placement. Before I get asked for the umpteenth time – physiology is not psychology (seriously?), physiology is not physiotherapy (seriously?), and don’t ask me the difference between physiology and anatomy (google it, you really should know). But as I found out one week into my placement, physiology wasn’t pharmaceuticals either. I was way out of my depth navigating the rough waters of industrial work. It didn’t help that the scientists made no efforts to minimize the technical jargon while briefing me. It almost felt like they were using complicated words even for seemingly innocent concepts.
After two weeks of blank expressions and counting to five in my head between each nod of feigned understanding, I finally sat down and gave myself a pep talk. Things could not continue this way; my first project was already in sight and I was still completely clueless about, well, everything. I got right down to reading up all kinds of literature. Here was something I was good at – accumulating information and building up concepts. Within the first month, I became well versed with the working of the industry, the company, my team and its projects. I discovered that the only thing you need is curiosity. If you are ready to ask questions and perceive their answers – everything is within your reach. Now, I can hold a conversation with my colleagues, and my nods are in co-ordination with my understanding, not their pauses. By the end of 8 months, I might even be fluent in the pharmaceutical jargon, but I haven't got my hopes pinned on that.
I discovered taxi drivers that drove like maniacs and those that came back to drop off the bag I forgot in their cab.
I discovered my country...
It was such a new experience for me navigating through lanes, shops, people and taking care of all the things that had always been taken care of for me at home. In Bristol, I adjusted quickly to 'the grown-up life' and admittedly, it took me some time to divorce the India that had always meant family, spoon-feeding and pampering from the India that meant self-reliance, getting lost in the city and finding my own way back to the hostel.
I discovered taxi drivers that drove like maniacs and those that came back to drop off the bag I forgot in their cab. I discovered street peddlers demanding an exorbitant amount of money taking me for a tourist, and the wallet salesman giving me a discount when I told him I was buying a gift for my father from my first salary. I reconnected with old friends in the area, and made a new life-long friend in my roommate. I realized that the vibrant and diverse country that is India, is wasted when looking through the window of a home or the lens of a camera. Get on the streets, talk to people – this is the biggest lesson I've learnt so far.
I got myself enrolled in weekend art classes. I re-discovered my passion for reading and the unadulterated joy of waking up in a twisted position with a book in my arms...
I discovered myself...
The lack of stress that would have come with final year coursework and examinations has given me mental space to make time for pursuits both long forgotten and yet to be explored. I got myself enrolled in weekend art classes. I re-discovered my passion for reading and the unadulterated joy of waking up in a twisted position with a book in my arms not knowing which paragraph I slept midway through, not knowing what my last thought before sleeping was. I started writing again after a long time (I even wrote for Epigram!). I learnt how to manage my monthly salary, and with the money I save, I have some exciting travel plans lined up.
As I see it, however unexpected the changes that life throws at you are, there is always something wonderful and exciting you can find in them, as long as you keep looking.
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