Later the same day, in another large mall, there was a “fish bar.” A fish bar is a place where you sit in a chair, dangling your feet in a tank of small fish that voraciously go about cleaning them. A piranha pedicure, I thought. As I submerged my feet, I remember likening the sensation to the tingling experienced when blood flow returns to an appendage after a long time. The fish are said to have a very hygienic effect on the feet, but after 20 minutes of sitting there, the only difference I was aware of was how much whiter my feet had become.
More than a year ago, when I put my name down for India, I was not expecting to do much in the way of Christmas celebrations. I was certainly not expecting to play in the snow and have my feet picked clean by fish either, but I suppose I did have an inkling that it would be one I would never repeat or forget.
My exchange year has been filled with moments like these, when I find myself doing something entirely differently than I would have done at home during a normal year. I try not to look at these events as a loss of familiar tradition, but as a new experience filled with learning and acceptance.
I did not feel homesick on Christmas, nor have I felt homesick at any time in the past five months. I love the things I do here, the things I learn here, and the things that would be impossible to do or learn anywhere else. That is what this year is all about for me, and that is why I signed up for it. After all, this is my one year to do everything in a different way for the first time in my life.
Sam Aldridge is a Rotary Exchange student from Milford. To read more from him, visit thebarodasagas.wordpress.com.