- About Us
- Contact Us
Get more information about Alliance programs and scholarships!
The Contemporary India semester program introduces U.S. undergraduates to some of the most dynamic, exciting areas of Indian society, politics, economics, and culture today. Environmental issues, development, social justice, economics and public health, in particular, are key areas in which India both faces unprecedented challenges and is on the global cutting edge of finding solutions.
By providing a core academic base and allowing progressive specialization though electives, culminating in an internship, directed research project, or documentary film of the student's own choosing, the Alliance's Contemporary India program takes an interdisciplinary yet focused approach to these timely and provocative issues, both as they apply to India and in their global context.
Through this lens of Contemporary India, the Alliance seeks to turn highly-motivated, adventurous U.S. undergraduates from a wide variety of majors and academic interests into sensitive and sophisticated global citizens, with a nuanced understanding of complex international, regional, and local issues.
Students may enroll for the fall or spring semester. All students are encouraged to consider spending an academic year in India, whether continuing in their current program to deepen their knowledge of Pune, or at a different Alliance program to broaden their understanding of India’s regional diversity.
Meet our on-site staff members!
To be eligible for this program, students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and be enrolled in an undergraduate degree program at an accredited U.S. institution. No previous academic or language coursework is required.
Students are required to take a curriculum of development-focused South Asian studies courses worth 15 credit hours in the fall and spring semesters.
All students are encouraged to consider a full academic year abroad with the Alliance. In two semesters abroad, you deepen your linguistic and cultural immersion, take your academic interests further, and forge ever-stronger bonds with the people and culture you’ve come to know and love.
As a year-long student, you’ll have the freedom to explore the full range of your program’s curriculum, progress to the next level of language acquisition, and continue your internship, research project, or other field component with the increased knowledge, skills and abilities that you’ve acquired in your first semester. Logistics permitting, you’re able to choose whether you’d like to stay in your current housing or try something new—there are benefits to both! Travel options may also be customized based upon designated program itineraries for the term.
You can also consider a new city (or country)! All year-long Alliance students receive a $500 continuer’s discount, for any combination of programs, countries, or terms.
American undergraduates will have the opportunity to explore the changing dynamics of modern, urban life in Pune – a city where tradition and technology, social justice and business, the arts and entertainment compete, counterbalance and coexist.
Check out this interactive map of the Alliance's resources across Pune:
View Alliance On Location: Pune in a larger map.
The family dynamics of urban India are being remapped in Pune, as multi-generational families embrace the employment of their daughters-in-law; couples Skype with their children who are studying or working abroad; or young women in slums find more liberation than in their home villages. A generation of plugged-in, tech-savvy Millennials roams the streets of Pune, writing blogs, taking selfies, and putting it all online via their smart phones. They might live at home until marriage, sure, but experience a greater degree of independence and worldliness than any generation before.
Pune’s rapid pace of economic growth has brought tremendous opportunities – and tremendous risks to many citizens. Thousands of skilled engineers commute to corporate offices in complexes on the fringes of the city; working for domestic giants like TATA and international brands like Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen. Meanwhile, migrant construction workers live on the edge of subsistence nearby the mega-malls, concert venues or hotel complexes, where these same young professionals spend their free time and money. Social entrepreneurs, activists, and community organizers come together at various levels to propose their solutions to the issues of the day – access to quality education, food security, healthcare, sanitation, economic opportunity and women’s rights.
Traditional Maharashtrian performing arts, fine arts, and artisanal crafts still have their supporters in Pune, but have found it necessary to evolve in order to survive and thrive. The latest Bollywood pictures playing at the multi-story megaplex offer up catchy song and dance numbers that advance the plots of buddy comedies and intercontinental romances, while nightly Marathi soap operas capture the imagination of families across Pune, with their intricate tales of love, betrayal, family drama, and village injustices.
Studying Contemporary India in Pune offers a unique opportunity to examine the complex and multi-faceted aspects of development, economy and society in this rapidly changing, diverse, and welcoming South Asian urban center.
The Alliance's Contemporary India program is based at the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, one of the oldest and most prestigious research and training institutes in economics in India. Founded in 1930 by the Servants of India Society, and renowned Nationalist Leader, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, the Gokhale Institute occupies a beautiful green campus in the thriving, centrally-located Deccan Gymkhana neighborhood. Alliance students enjoy the best of campus life while utilizing a welcoming program office and modern classrooms dedicated to Alliance courses and activities. The Alliance’s partnership with the Gokhale Institute provides an engaging, collaborative foundation for the high academic standards and strong student services for which we are known, while fostering a meaningful, immersive campus experience for our students.
Our Pune staff have extensive professional experience in study abroad in India and a well-connected local network, and will work to maximize students' learning both inside and outside the classroom, while maintaining the highest standards in health, safety, and professional program management.
Please click the hyperlinked course titles to view syllabi.
SOCI 360: Contemporary India (required - 3 credits)
A political, historical, and social survey of post-Independence India as a complex yet unified multi-cultural, multi-linguistic, religiously pluralistic democracy and rising major global power, this core course gives students the ability to understand current events they see around them, contextualized within a historical framework. Topics include: colonialism, nationalism, and independence; Gandhi, social activism and the 1960s; gender and caste; 20th century literary, religious and philosophical movements; and recent history from 1990 to the present.
Students are matched with internship and research placements based upon academic interests articulated in their Field Component form. Internships require students to thoughtfully and critically integrate the academic, experiential, and professional within an organizational context, whereas directed research involves a formal research project carried out within an organization, a library, or the field. Documentary film allows students to conduct and present research through a visual rather than a written medium, working closely with a faculty member and film director, as well as students at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). All projects are conducted under close academic supervision and entail a final paper or project with accompanying presentation.
Not all electives may be offered in a given semester depending on enrollment and faculty availability. Students are encouraged to identify alternative electives when they complete their Course Preference Form.
ENVI 380: Environmental Perspectives (elective - 3 credits)
India’s ongoing population explosion, along with its steady march toward urbanization and industrialization, has placed significant pressure on its land and natural resources, leading to severe deforestation, water and air pollution, and land degradation, among other many critical environmental issues. This course exposes students to environmental issues both from an Indian and global perspective, exploring natural, social, economic and political facets of these complex yet pressing concerns, as well as culturally-specific and global strategies for addressing them.
PUBH 300: Public Health (elective - 3 credits)
India faces unique and daunting challenges in the area of public health, battling malnutrition, infectious disease, and high infant mortality. This course will take a multidisciplinary approach to public health in India, incorporating policy development, gender issues, social justice, health economics, epidemiology, behavioral sciences, and health services management. Students will carefully interrogate how social, political, and economic factors facilitate or mitigate the production and transmission of disease, and evaluate ethical and practical consequences of policy and scientific initiatives.
SOCJ 365: Social Justice (elective - 3 credits)
Social justice movements in India may be most widely known through the iconic figures of Mahatma Gandhi and B.R. Ambedkar, but there is a rich and diverse tradition of Indian social justice theory and action dating from the British Raj era to modern Dalit, tribal, and women’s movements. This course offers students an overview of social justice thought and activism in India, evolving through nationalism and the freedom struggle, 20th-century political and social movements, and contemporary economic, caste, and gender disparities.
ECON 390: Development Economics (elective - 3 credits)
For students with interests in business, economics, development studies, and international affairs, the Indian economy serves as a complex, fascinating example of high technology, expanding trade, vibrant entrepreneurship, and a highly-skilled workforce, co-existing in sometimes tenuous balance with widespread poverty, social inequality, and critical gaps in health care, education, and infrastructure. This course explores how India is seeking to address and reconcile these disparities, focusing on technological change, political economy, trade, social entrepreneurship and microfinance, and international aid as they are managed and applied within contemporary India.
ECON 391: Social Entrepreneurship and Interventions (elective - 3 credits)
Rapidly changing social landscapes have given way to a greater convergence of government and nonprofit organizations’ efforts in ensuring a better quality of life for their citizens. The increasing importance of professional approaches towards socially relevant enterprises makes an understanding of social entrepreneurship today vital. This course will expose students to contributions made by social entrepreneurs in key areas such as health, nutrition, education, and income generation. This survey course will draw heavily upon inter-disciplinary approaches, case studies, discussions, and insights from guest speakers throughout the semester to help students understand the conceptual frameworks necessary for social entrepreneurship and understand the common challenges social entrepreneurs face.
ECON 392: Emerging South Asian Economies (elective - 3 credits)
India anchors a region full of rapidly expanding markets and fast-growing economies. This course will provide students with a deeper understanding of the emerging South Asian and Southeast Asian economic region, and the geopolitical and economic relations of the various countries that call the region home. A major focus will center on India’s growing economy as a vital player in the region. Students will embark on an investigation of a number of individual country’s GDP, geography, and economic freedoms as well as political, trade, and investment climates. Students will also examine the dilemmas of future development and issues facing India’s foreign trade and foreign investment markets.
FILM 360: Democracy and Dissent: Contemporary Indian Cinema (elective - 3 credits)
The course aims to academically engage the participants in an intense theoretical discussion about the nature of Indian society and its politics, interpreted and understood through the formidable vehicle of its cinema. India has emerged as the biggest, socially dynamic, and economically stable democracy, with a vibrant global diaspora. The Indian nation-state after independence has thrown up challenging discourses on the nature of nationalism and national identity, on religion, caste and very recently, on gender issues and on development. Cinema has been the national passion in a country which produces feature films at the rate of four per day, and a dominant narrative of Indian cinema has been that of nationalism and democracy.
COMM 375: Gender and Indian Media (elective - 3 credits)
*Syllabus coming soon.
From Hindu mythology to the pages of Bollywood gossip magazines, Indian womanhood has been a constantly-evolving site for the mapping of cultural norms, desires and anxieties. The simultaneous exaltation and oppression of femininity, in all its nuance and variation, is both reinforced and contested in the many and various channels of mass media in contemporary Indian society.
In a democracy as diverse and complex as that of India, mass media is a key tool of communication that simultaneously creates, interrogates, and subverts. Through a critical exploration of gender as it is constructed and represented in Indian film, theatre, television, and advertising, this course addresses timely and relevant questions relating to women’s issues and the (re)making of Indian womanhood in contemporary India.
HIND 100: Beginning Hindi (elective - 3 credits)
Fundamentals of conversation and written Hindi for beginning students.
HIND 200: Intermediate Hindi (elective - 3 credits)
Fundamentals of conversation and written Hindi for intermediate students.
Alliance faculty are drawn from across Pune's many prominent academic institutions, think tanks, research institutes, and NGOs. This allows us to select faculty who are among the best in their field, who have experience working with foreign or U.S. students, and who are committed to the high standards of academic excellence for which our programs are known. In addition, the Alliance formed the Pune Academic Council that brings together many of Pune's most prominent intellectuals to guide and advise on program curriculum.
Dr. Triveni Mathur, SOCI 360: Contemporary India
Dr. Hemant Apte, PUBH 300: Public Health
Dr. Hemant Apte earned his M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of Pune in Cultural Anthropology and Health Sciences, respectively. Since then Dr. Apte has received numerous awards for his achievements and publications, including the Academic Excellence Award from the Rotary Club of Gandhi-Bhavan in 2007. In addition to teaching in the Health Sciences and Anthropology Departments at the University of Pune, Dr. Apte works as a social scientist at the KEM Hospital Research Centre and serves as Vice-President of the Maharashtra Association of Anthropological Sciences.
Prof. Ashish Kulkarni, ECON 390: Development Economics
ECON 392: Emerging South Asian Economies
Prof. Archana Vidwans, ECON 391: Social Entrepreneurship and Interventions
Internship and Directed Research Coordinator
Dr. Medha Kotwal Lele, SOCJ 365: Social Justice
Prof. Santosh Shintre, ENVI 380: Environmental Perspectives
Dr. Aparna Jha, HIND 200: Intermediate Hindi
Dr. Aparna Jha completed both her M.A and Ph.D. in Linguistics and has over 20 years of experience teaching Hindi, Marathi, and Bengali to foreign students from all over the world. In addition to publishing a variety of textbooks on Hindi, Marathi, and Bengali language acquisition, Dr. Jha has utilized her fluency in 6 languages to translate several novels.
Prof. Sunila Gondhalekar, HIND 100: Beginning Hindi
Credits, Grades, and Transcripts
A study abroad experience is first and foremost an academic experience. All Alliance for Global Education courses have undergone a faculty review and approval process, and are transcripted by an accredited U.S. university. For all Alliance programs through Spring 2014, transcripts are issued by Arcadia University. For Summer 2014 programs and beyond, transcripts are issued by Butler University.
While in most cases students who have received approval from their home institution to study on an Alliance program can be assured of credits transferring, it is a student’s responsibility to work with their study abroad or academic advisor and home school faculty or academic departments to ensure credit transfer for specific courses.
Credits and Accreditation
Credits granted for Alliance courses are identified in course listings on the Curriculum page for each program, and appear on the official transcript issued at the completion of a student's term. Credit is issued in U.S. semester hours, ensuring that students continue to make progress toward their degrees and verifying the full-time course load they completed while abroad.
All Alliance courses have been reviewed and approved by Butler or Arcadia University’s Undergraduate Academic Programs Committee. Arcadia University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Butler University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Programs approved by the Butler University College of Business—which include the Alliance’s International Business Program in Shanghai—are accredited by AACSB International, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Students receive a letter grade on a scale from A to F for every course they take while enrolled on an Alliance program. Withdrawals (W) may be granted due to exceptional circumstances. Although policies at students' home institutions may differ, the Alliance does not permit students to take courses on a credit/no credit or pass/fail basis. Student grades are determined by criteria set forth in course syllabi.
The grading scale used in determining letter grades for Alliance courses is as follows:
At the conclusion of a program, an official transcript is sent to the participant's home school, with an unofficial copy forwarded to the participant.
Because timelines for final evaluation may vary due to respective program calendars or administrative structures of partner universities abroad, transcripts may take longer to issue than they do at U.S. institutions. While the timeline varies by program, a general timeline for issuing transcripts is:
· Fall programs - transcript issued in late February
· Spring and Summer programs - transcript issued in late September
Transcripts are not released for students with an outstanding balance of program fees or other charge incurred while on the program. Students enrolling in consecutive terms with the Alliance do not receive their first term transcript until their second term fees are paid in full.
Participants in Alliance programs beginning Summer 2014 can request additional transcripts of their transcripts online at any time from Butler University's online transcript ordering service provided by the National Student Clearinghouse, a nonprofit organization serving the higher education community.
If you have a question about the transcripting process or timeline, please feel free to contact your Student Services Manager.
In Pune, students have the opportunity to participate in a full-time, four-week internship to fulfill their field component requirement. Interns are placed in Indian, joint-venture, or foreign-owned non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and companies working in the fields of microfinance, business, women’s rights, education, environmental protection, public health and civic engagement.
GETTING AN INTERNSHIP: The Alliance makes every effort to place student interns at companies or organizations that match the organization’s needs with what each student brings to the table. Students should not contact organizations themselves. The placement process begins with the submission of the Field Component Form during the program application process, and Alliance on-site staff work to match students with an organization involved in their stated area of academic and professional interest. Please consider your internship interests carefully while filling out the Field Component Form, as it is not possible for changes in placement to be made in Pune. Placements are typically finalized after students arrive in India.
"I am working with the organization Parvati Swayamrojgar (PSW)—an NGO that aims to alleviate poverty in Pune’s urban slums by using micro-finance loans, vocational training, and health services. I am focusing on the Early Childhood Program whose goal is to educate the parents of children ages 0-3 on proper parenting techniques, a child’s overall development, and creating an enriching environment. My tasks as an intern are to create a feedback survey as well as to compare women who have undergone the program and those who have not. I am analyzing the efficacy of programs that aim to raise awareness on key techniques for proper parenting. PSW’s work links with my primary interest, social work, because its mission is to work with poverty stricken communities to improve their way of life.
Interacting with Indian parents, specifically mothers, has given me an entirely new picture of motherhood as well as the female’s role. These women live in a culture where education is not valued for women, and the access is thus extremely limited or nonexistent. Even though they lack knowledge that may come from books or formal schooling, they have another kind of insight and experience that I will never be able to truly comprehend. They know how to multi-task and take care of a household made up of sometimes upwards of 10 people. These women also may not have the means necessary to provide their children with all the conveniences and toys they wish they could, but they make it a priority to buy or even make what they are able to and essentially, hope for the best for their children. Working with PSW has been an opportunity for me to experience interactions that I otherwise would never have had and therefore has impacted both my personal and professional attitudes greatly."
Students who choose to pursue directed research as their field component are paired with a faculty member appropriate to their academic area of interest, such as performing arts, journalism, tribal, environmental or women’s issues, public health, or text-based historical research, and are expected to produce a formal research paper. Research students have regular meetings with faculty guides in their subject area to discuss the formation and execution of their research plans. All directed research projects are subject to the interest and availability of faculty and may require prior relevant coursework.
"My research was incredibly rewarding, and not only offered new insights about my topic, Hinduism and the youth, academic theories versus religious practice, but also provided me with the opportunity to explore other interests, both personal and academic. I spent an extended period of time at Jnana Prahbodhini with female priests, made lasting friendships with my informants and even spent an entire day with a renowned Hindu priest! Through my research I came to a better understanding of my topic, as well as the religious roles, visibilities and agencies of women and feminist struggles in India more generally. The program provided me with intellectual freedom, guidance and help in pursuing my passion!"
The documentary film option for the field component allows students to conduct and present research through a visual rather than written medium. Working closely with a faculty member who is also a film director, as well as students from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Alliance students are trained in the art and technique of documentary filmmaking, and are expected to produce a short film on their selected subject area. For all majors; no film background is required. Students must provide their own digital video cameras.
For more information, consult the Documentary Film syllabus.
Program dates roughly follow the U.S. academic calendar:
The 16–17 week semester begins with an on-site orientation at a retreat location outside Pune. Two long weekends are built into the calendar for excursions to Mumbai and a rural village. In addition, there are several field visits to various points of interest in and around Pune. One week is set aside for independent travel during the semester. The semester concludes with a two-day seminar where research is presented and discussed, and students are prepared for their return home.
Given the program’s busy academic schedule, weekly extracurriculars, regular field visits and excursions, the Alliance strongly discourages students from hosting visitors until after the end of the semester. Please encourage family and/or friends to visit after the program has ended. Students should make their travel plans accordingly.
24 August 2014 Flight departure from U.S.
25 August 2014 Arrival in India
26 August 2014 Travel to Durshet – Orientation begins
16 December 2014 Closing Ceremony
17 December 2014 Return flight to U.S. (after 5:00 p.m.)
18 January 2015 Flight departure from U.S.
19 January 2015 Arrival in India***
20 January 2015 Travel to Durshet - Orientation begins
13 May 2015 Closing Ceremony
14 May 2015 Leave for USA after 05:00 p.m.
*** Students should consult the Accepted Students Section for the designated Arrival Window. Students arriving within the window will be met by Alliance staff at the airport.
|Fall 2014 Program||$ 17,500|
|Spring 2015 Program||$ 17,500|
The program price includes tuition and fees, housing, some meals, pre-departure materials, student visa authorizations, orientation, organized activities, field study trips, course materials, the services of a full-time resident staff, and medical/evacuation insurance.
The program price does not include airfare to India, most meals, passport and consular visa fees, independent travel, and other items not mentioned as included.
The Alliance encourages students to enroll for more than one term and to consider studying with more than one Alliance program. Students who continue into a second or third term with the Alliance receive a $500 discount on the program fee for this subsequent term. Some students choose to spend fall term in one location and spring term in another; others continue in our summer term after completing spring.
Alliance programs emphasize cultural immersion, experiential learning opportunities, and extensive interaction with local residents. In Pune, all students live with a host family, which provides a daily opportunity to interact with a local family. As a university town, Pune has many families who are accustomed to renting out rooms to students, and who, in some cases, have semi-independent apartments or rooms attached to their houses.
All homestay families undergo an extensive vetting process with special attention to health, safety, and opportunities for cultural exchange. While every student has a different relationship with their host family, students are frequently brought along to religious, cultural, and community activities, and introduced widely among their friends and family.
Here are a few things you can expect in your homestay:
Adopting the habits of your host family and neighborhood requires some adjustment on your part, but builds trust between you and your host, maintains the years of goodwill built by former students, and opens the door to future students yet to come.
Arrangements for meals vary among housing placements. Indian cuisine is generally vegetarian, though some meat dishes are available in Pune. Breakfasts on weekdays are provided at the Alliance program center, and lunches are eaten out, and dinner is served at home.
Students will find many student-friendly eateries around the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics. Expect to spend about $5-10 per day on meals, or more if you eat in nicer restaurants or eat western-style food. Meal prices can range from cheap ($1 for a quick lunch in a student-frequented eatery) to very expensive ($50 and higher in a fancy hotel).
Fresh fruit and vegetables are is available at local markets, and western-style groceries are becoming more and more widely available in certain stores around Pune. Vegetarians will find that good food is easily and widely available in India. Dairy products are widely served in coffee, tea, and desserts, which are also highly sugared. Dietary restrictions can generally be accommodated. Come prepared to be adventurous and flexible in your eating habits, and you will be richly rewarded!
In addition to sessions on health and safety, academics, and cultural adjustment conducted at the off-site orientation at the start of the program, students are introduced to rural Indian village life, Hinduism, and tribal issues. Students visit the Astavinayaka shrine, where they learn about the significance of temple etiquette and legends of the elephant god, Ganesh, who is especially revered in Maharashtra. Students enjoy a morning hike from the retreat center to a nearby tribal village, where one can glimpse the beauty and the challenges of life in rural India. Opportunities to greet and interact with the residents are facilitated by local guides and program staff.
In addition to its rich academic life, Pune boasts a thriving performing arts community, and students are given the option of taking classes in expressive culture. Choices may vary depending on the availability of instructors, but bharatnatyam (dance), tabla (drum) or other musical instrument, and vocals are commonly offered.
A demonstration of the various expressive culture possibilities is arranged at orientation, and students are asked to commit to at least 10 classes if they choose to pursue this option. The Alliance provides up to 15 classes; any additional classes are the student's responsibility.
The program calendar is filled with numerous field visits in and around Pune and varies according to the season. Led by Alliance staff and/or faculty, students participate in religious, national and regional holidays, cultural performances, and academic events as they arise around the city.
Examples of such activities include visiting the Shaniwarwada palace (seat of the Marathi empire) or the Aga Khan Palace (where Mahatma Gandhi and other nationalist leaders were kept prisoner), exploring local markets and heritage neighborhoods, celebrating India's Republic Day, playing colors on Holi, or seeing the procession of Ganpati Visurjan.
Just outside of Pune are the natural beauties of Khandala, Lonavla, and hill stations such as Mahabaleshwar, Bhimashankar, and Matheran. Students enjoy trekking with student groups or local friends in the Western Ghats.
After several weeks immersed in the bustling urban environment in Pune, students gain a more in-depth look at rural issues and village life from the perspective of Development Economics or Public Health. Students not enrolled in either class will select one village visit to attend.
Students taking Development Economics visit the village of Baramati and see firsthand the issues of livelihood development and agricultural cultivation. Farmers who are dependent on increasingly unpredictable monsoon rains struggle to gain access to the infrastructure, equipment and resources needed to provide sufficient yields. Visits to a Farm Science Center and an Agricultural College provide understanding of the technological and scientific developments needed to produce crops in a dry zone. Specializations in niche fields – such as wine, dairy or silk – have provided profitable livelihood development for farmers in this region.
Students of Public Health visit the villages of Urali-kanchan and Velhe to witness the implementation of programs in the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and learn about other aspects of India’s rich medical tradition. Beginning with a visit to a Nature Cure Ashram, students learn about the application of naturopathic treatments for chronic diseases. Interactions with representatives of NGOs and the local “gram panchayat” government illustrate the social aspect of health. Visits to the Primary Health Care Center and an “anaganwadi” introduce students to the frontline rural health workers fighting against maternal and infant mortality, malnutrition, and infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDs.
Whether you call it Mumbai or Bombay, this mega-city is like nowhere else on earth. It’s a city of staggering extremes, rich history and non-stop action – and it never stays the same for long. Explore Mumbai’s past, present and future through meetings with activists, community organizers and everyday citizens – from a dabbe-walle specialist and Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson. Students have one-of-a-kind access to the recycling and pottery industries of Dharavi, and learn about the development of what is called the largest slum in Asia. During the trip, students explore the famous Fort neighborhood and Colaba causeway in their free time. Glimpse the richness and complexity of India through the lens of one of its largest and most vibrant cities.
How do Alliance program graduates look back on their experience studying in Asia? What advice can they offer on making the most of your time abroad? Contact these students to ask your questions!
Namaskar! My name is Katie and I study Anthropology, Reconciliation Studies, and Philosophy at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. I spent Spring 2014 in Pune, India and couldn't have asked for a more rewarding experience! I was able to complete my...read more
Namaskar! My name is Katie and I study Anthropology, Reconciliation Studies, and Philosophy at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. I spent Spring 2014 in Pune, India and couldn't have asked for a more rewarding experience! I was able to complete my internship there as well as take interesting classes on entrepreneurship and social justice. I even learned some Hindi along the way! I think studying in Asia is one of the smartest and most rewarding places to go for a semester abroad - there are countless cultures to learn from and a million things to see. I look forward to hearing from you and answering any questions you may have about the India program - it will be the time of your life! hide
Hi! I’m Leslie—a senior at the College of Wooster majoring in Anthropology and minoring in South Asian Studies. I studied with the Alliance both Fall 2013 in Varanasi and Spring 2014 in Pune. Spending nine months in India was...read more
Hi! I’m Leslie—a senior at the College of Wooster majoring in Anthropology and minoring in South Asian Studies. I studied with the Alliance both Fall 2013 in Varanasi and Spring 2014 in Pune. Spending nine months in India was one of the most rewarding experiences of my undergraduate career and I think everyone should have the chance to study abroad! I am so excited to share my experience with other students and encourage others to create a wonderful study abroad experience for themselves. hide
My name is Sam Parker, and I am a senior at Macalester College. I am a Religious Studies and Media & Cultural Studies double major. I will be the chair of the meditation group on campus, Sitting @ Mac. In the Spring of 2014, I had the...read more
My name is Sam Parker, and I am a senior at Macalester College. I am a Religious Studies and Media & Cultural Studies double major. I will be the chair of the meditation group on campus, Sitting @ Mac. In the Spring of 2014, I had the privilege of studying abroad in Pune as part of the Contemporary India program. I had an incredible experience taking classes and immersing myself into the cultural. The opportunity to stay with a host family and travel throughout the country were just added bonuses. I hope that as an Ambassador I can share my experience with other students and tell them about the beauty of Pune! hide
Hello everyone! You can call me Toni. I'm looking forward to my last year as an undergraduate student studying philosophy and film at Georgetown University, and I have plans to pursue my master's degree in education and become a school teacher...read more
Hello everyone! You can call me Toni. I'm looking forward to my last year as an undergraduate student studying philosophy and film at Georgetown University, and I have plans to pursue my master's degree in education and become a school teacher as well as continuing my work with film to become a documentarian. My passions include painting, reading, martial arts, whistling, writing, film, and animals. I also plan on continuing to travel, and to one day return to Pune to make more documentary films. hide
Hi! My name is Angela and am a senior at Franklin & Marshall College pursuing a joint major in Business and Public Health. I was part of the Contemporary India (Pune, India) spring 2014 program. During my time in India I interned with an amazing...read more
Hi! My name is Angela and am a senior at Franklin & Marshall College pursuing a joint major in Business and Public Health. I was part of the Contemporary India (Pune, India) spring 2014 program. During my time in India I interned with an amazing organization, learned how to dance Kathak, and explored India’s diverse culture. Overall, studying abroad in India broadened my perspectives and helped me step out of my comfort zone. As an ambassador, I look forward to sharing my experiences to those who want to embark on this amazing journey! hide
Hello! My name is Jessa. I am a senior at Smith College in Northampton, MA double majoring in history and medieval studies. I studied in Pune last spring with the Contemporary India program and loved it. Pune is a wonderful, diverse, welcoming city and...read more
Hello! My name is Jessa. I am a senior at Smith College in Northampton, MA double majoring in history and medieval studies. I studied in Pune last spring with the Contemporary India program and loved it. Pune is a wonderful, diverse, welcoming city and anyone ready to explore will have an incredible time there. Doing a research project, living with a host family, and traveling as much as possible is what made the program for me. I am already looking for ways to get back there again. I’m so thankful to have had this experience and am looking forward to connecting with prospective students. hide
Hi! I'm Elly and am a senior studying English at Harvard University. Last fall I studied in Pune, India, where I focused mostly on social justice and film. In my incredible time abroad, I learned Kathak dance, made a documentary in a Mumbai slum,...read more
Hi! I'm Elly and am a senior studying English at Harvard University. Last fall I studied in Pune, India, where I focused mostly on social justice and film. In my incredible time abroad, I learned Kathak dance, made a documentary in a Mumbai slum, and traveled throughout India, Thailand, and Cambodia. I'm thrilled to be an Ambassador for the Alliance and am looking forward to fielding any questions students might have as they make the exciting decision to study in Asia. hide
Hi guys. My name is Zoe Bertrand and I am a junior at Georgetown University, studying Women and Gender Studies with a focus in Globalization and Poverty. I studied in Pune, India last semester with the Alliance's Contemporary India program. The...read more
Hi guys. My name is Zoe Bertrand and I am a junior at Georgetown University, studying Women and Gender Studies with a focus in Globalization and Poverty. I studied in Pune, India last semester with the Alliance's Contemporary India program. The experience was exciting, challenging and overall an incredibly rewarding experience. I look forward to encouraging my classmates here in D.C. to embark on a similarly worthwhile and meaningful semester abroad. hide
Hey guys, my name's Paulina and I'm a junior at the University of Delaware, studying International Relations and Development. I was in Pune for the Contemporary India program with the Alliance this past fall, and I'm happy to be an Alumni...read more
Hey guys, my name's Paulina and I'm a junior at the University of Delaware, studying International Relations and Development. I was in Pune for the Contemporary India program with the Alliance this past fall, and I'm happy to be an Alumni Ambassador with you all! Seeing India (and Thailand for a short trip) was an incredible experience and I'm excited to share it with everyone here at Delaware this coming semester! hide
Hi, I'm Joey Shadel. I study Economics and Political Science at American University in Washington, DC and am currently a Junior. Fall 2013 I studied in Pune and had some incredible, life-impacting experiences that I - one - love to remember and...read more
Hi, I'm Joey Shadel. I study Economics and Political Science at American University in Washington, DC and am currently a Junior. Fall 2013 I studied in Pune and had some incredible, life-impacting experiences that I - one - love to remember and learn from, and - two - love to talk about with people who care. As an Alumni Ambassador, I hope to encourage students to choose a program in a culture that will challenge them. My semester in Pune created the highest density of discomfort than I've ever experienced, and I grew tremendously because of it. Hopefully other students can learn from my stories and choose their study abroad program more wisely! hide
Hello everyone! My name is Channing Carney-Filmore and I am currently a Junior attending Spelman College. I am an International Studies Major with a concentration in Development and minoring in Public Health. I spent my Fall 2013 semester in Pune,...read more
Hello everyone! My name is Channing Carney-Filmore and I am currently a Junior attending Spelman College. I am an International Studies Major with a concentration in Development and minoring in Public Health. I spent my Fall 2013 semester in Pune, India with the Contemporary India program. My time spent with the Alliance was definitely one to remember forever. The staff members were incredible, the new friendships I gained helped make my experience the best it could have possibly been, and traveling throughout India was so eye opening and rewarding. As an Ambassador, I hope to share all of my amazing experiences, and to help future Alliance students get acquainted with living in India. I look forward to working with everyone! hide
Hi! I'm Annelise and I am a junior at Cornell University majoring in International Agriculture and Rural Development with a concentration in Economics and Development. I participated in the Fall 2013 Contemporary India program in Pune, India. It is...read more
Hi! I'm Annelise and I am a junior at Cornell University majoring in International Agriculture and Rural Development with a concentration in Economics and Development. I participated in the Fall 2013 Contemporary India program in Pune, India. It is my hope that as an Alliance Ambassador I can share with other students the importance of choosing an abroad program that will broaden their horizons and push themselves out of their comfort zones. I look forward to working with all of you! hide
Hello friends! I'm Sarah and I studied with the Alliance in Pune last spring. In all honesty, I did not prepare as much as I should have, and I wasn't very excited until the departure day had finally arrived. I awoke with a knot in my stomach...read more
Hello friends! I'm Sarah and I studied with the Alliance in Pune last spring. In all honesty, I did not prepare as much as I should have, and I wasn't very excited until the departure day had finally arrived. I awoke with a knot in my stomach and a mind filled with fears. 'What am I doing? Where am I going? Why did I do this to myself? What if I never make it back to the U.S.?' It was not until I stepped out of the airport in Mumbai and received a warm welcome from my program director, Uttaraa, that I felt safe once more. From that point forward, I was not scared again, the Alliance is an amazing group of individuals who are willing and able to assist you with any and every problem you may face. This is not to say they will not send you out to experience life and challenges on your own, but to say that they are a wonderful support system and absolutely the best at what they do. If I can be of any kind of assistance, please reach out and share every concern/question/fear/excitement! hide
Namaste! My name is Olivia and I am a senior at Smith College, majoring in Government/Political Science and minoring in Global South Development studies. I chose to study in Pune, India for the Spring 2013 semester because I wanted to experience a...read more
Namaste! My name is Olivia and I am a senior at Smith College, majoring in Government/Political Science and minoring in Global South Development studies. I chose to study in Pune, India for the Spring 2013 semester because I wanted to experience a vastly new culture and learn first-hand how India has met development challenges and changed since Independence. The Pune program provided me with an incredible host family, trips to challenge and complement my coursework and amazing support to pursue all that I wanted to accomplish on my own. I'd love to connect with and answer any questions or concerns of prospective students because I know how incredibly fulfilling a semester in India can be with a little preparation and a positive attitude! hide
Hey y'all! I am Jennequia (Nikki) Brown, a junior at Columbia College in South Carolina studying Biology and Psychology. This past summer I participated the Contemporary India program in Pune, India. If someone had told me...read more
Hey y'all! I am Jennequia (Nikki) Brown, a junior at Columbia College in South Carolina studying Biology and Psychology. This past summer I participated the Contemporary India program in Pune, India. If someone had told me six months ago that I would have made so many connections with so many people in a country that I knew so little about, I probably would not have believed them--but I did. The research experience that I gained from working the the urban slums of Pune released me from the veil of ignorance that I had prior to traveling to India. The Alliance broadened my perspectives on the world and made me consider different paths that I can take to succeed in my future career. I am so excited to encourage others to have the same experience that I did. hide
Hello everyone! I just came back from the summer session in Pune, and I am starting my second year at UVA. I really enjoyed my experience with the Alliance and hope to encourage others at my school to check the program out, especially since studying...read more
hideMy pre-departure emotions were so occupied with anxiety, and it seemed like no one my age was around to answer my questions about my upcoming life-changing experience. As an Alumni Ambassador, I can bring a true, empathetic and honest aid to students wishing to pursue education abroad with the Alliance. By informing prospective students and battling misconceptions surrounding study destinations, I feel confident in my ability to help students take the leap to take their education further, and hopefully, to avoid eventual regret.
Hi! My name is Shani and I studied abroad in Pune this past summer. Taking a trip abroad by myself was probably the best decision I've made. Since my arrival back in the States, I have had nothing but positive things to say about my experiences in...read more
Hi! My name is Shani and I studied abroad in Pune this past summer. Taking a trip abroad by myself was probably the best decision I've made. Since my arrival back in the States, I have had nothing but positive things to say about my experiences in India, and so I want to be able to give back and incite that same level of excitement into other students who are considering studying abroad with the Alliance! :) This year I'm also the President of the Indian Student Association, a Resident Assistant for Campus Housing, and a researcher with the UIC department of Global Health. hide
Hi! My name is Jill. I chose the Contemporary India summer program mainly because I wanted to intern abroad, and interning at the Family Planning Association of India fulfilled that expectation. Like in any developing country, life in India is...read more
Hi! My name is Jill. I chose the Contemporary India summer program mainly because I wanted to intern abroad, and interning at the Family Planning Association of India fulfilled that expectation. Like in any developing country, life in India is hectic. Despite this fact, the Alliance does everything within their power to make it less stressful, starting with host family placements! I can't stress enough how big of an impact my host family made on my experience. If you have any questions regarding travel in India, living situations, or what the internships are really like, please don't hesitate to ask! hide
Namaste. It took a lot of work and collaboration with my study abroad office to make going to Pune, India in Fall Semester of 2011 happen, but it was entirely worth it since it has been one of the best parts of my college experience. My host...read more
Namaste. It took a lot of work and collaboration with my study abroad office to make going to Pune, India in Fall Semester of 2011 happen, but it was entirely worth it since it has been one of the best parts of my college experience. My host family, making my own short documentary, participating in cultural events, traveling, and making so many friends; together made wonderful memories with the Alliance for Global Education. I am highly involved on my small campus, especially with the international community. In addition, I would love to answer any questions you might have about the program. I am looking forward to hearing from you! hide
Hi Everyone! I'm a senior majoring in Finance with a minor in German. During the Spring 2012 semester I found myself taking a break from my business and German classes to study in Pune, India. Choosing India and the Alliance...read more
Hi Everyone! I'm a senior majoring in Finance with a minor in German. During the Spring 2012 semester I found myself taking a break from my business and German classes to study in Pune, India. Choosing India and the Alliance for my semester abroad is one of the best decisions I've ever made. I'm passionate about studying abroad, and am so thrilled to have the chance to interact with other students as they are making their own study abroad decisions! hide
Hi all, I'm a senior majoring in International Studies with a concentration in Environmental Studies. I had a great time in Pune, India this past spring, and I've promised myself that I'll be going back...read more
Hi all, I'm a senior majoring in International Studies with a concentration in Environmental Studies. I had a great time in Pune, India this past spring, and I've promised myself that I'll be going back in the foreseeable future. Having already been studying abroad in the US to start with (I'm from Hong Kong), I recognize the importance of any source of support prior to going abroad, which is what I hope to be as an Alliance Ambassador. hide
Hi, my name is Giselle Regalado. I was born in New York City and moved to Dominican Republic at the age of nine. I moved back to New York at the age of fifteen. I now have 7 years in the U.S. although, I would say six years because...read more
Hi, my name is Giselle Regalado. I was born in New York City and moved to Dominican Republic at the age of nine. I moved back to New York at the age of fifteen. I now have 7 years in the U.S. although, I would say six years because I spent an academic year in India. Because I was fortune to live in India for so long, I had the chance to emerge myself in Indian culture in such a way that now I have adopted India as my third culture. My most memorable moment in India was my first dinner with roommate and my host mom. My host mom wouldn’t stop looking at the way I ate. I thought that my skills eating with my right hand were pretty good; until I was almost done with my meal. My host mom started laughing. I asked, “What happened?” She said “G, you don’t eat with three fingers, you need to use all five fingers.” I was a bit embarrassed but we all laughed together at the situation.
I am currently living in the U.S.A and attending Saint Michael's College in Vermont. I am a senior majoring in Gender Studies with a minor in Anthropology. I work for student life on my campus as an RA (Resident Assistant). I am also involved in my community by volunteering in the Applied Linguistic Department (ALD) on campus, working with teens and interning with the organization Women Helping Battered Women. hide
Namaste, My name is Brenna Blazis. I am a sophomore majoring in Elementary and Special Education at the University of Evansville of Indiana. It took a lot of work and collaboration with my study abroad office to make going to India in Fall Semester of...read more
Namaste, My name is Brenna Blazis. I am a sophomore majoring in Elementary and Special Education at the University of Evansville of Indiana. It took a lot of work and collaboration with my study abroad office to make going to India in Fall Semester of 2011 happen, but it was entirely worth it since it has been one of the best parts of my college experience.
Beginning with my wonderful host family; who through conservations, cooking, and festivals; transparently shared their culture with me. The courses I took at Fergusson College, in subjects like social justice, environmental issues, and film, supported my understanding of the Indian culture I was immersed in. The ability to make a documentary film by far the best part of my coursework; through the creation of my film I was able to meet with the founders of special education in the Pune area and learn skills on how make a film. Something I would have never gotten to do otherwise.
Above all, I was able to make great friends with fellow exchange students and locals, and created great memories in our shared experiences, especially during weekends and our travel week. I had a wonderful experience with the Alliance for Global Education in Pune India. In addition, I would love to answer any questions you might have about the program. I am looking forward to hearing from you! hide
Hey, my name is Brianna Besch. I’m currently and Junior at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. I am an environmental studies and geography double major with a concentration in international development and minor in physics. I actually...read more
Hey, my name is Brianna Besch. I’m currently and Junior at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. I am an environmental studies and geography double major with a concentration in international development and minor in physics. I actually spent my middle and high school years living abroad in Almaty, Kazakhstan and Cairo, Egypt which got me hooked on traveling and development work. I hoped to complement this background with a study abroad experience during college. I wanted to go to India because it is so different from anything I had experienced before and everything is growing so rapidly that there are all kinds of interesting initiatives going on.
I really loved living in India. Being able to study the country as I experienced living there meant I got a much deeper understanding of the culture, people and how things worked (not that you can ever really understand how things work in India) then I had in other places I have lived. There was always something to look forward to, and I had some amazing experiences getting to see different parts of incredible India. There were definitely some non-trivial challenges along the way, but they taught me to be more independent, flexible and just go with the flow, you might not know where you were going but you usually got someplace pretty interesting. My experience in India also gave me a great introduction to working on sustainable development projects in the developing world- I’m already planning to go back. hide
Maza nav Sami aahe (translation: my name is Sami), I am a senior at Brandeis University majoring in Education and Sociology with a minor in Social Justice and Policy. Ever since I got home from India I’ve been attempting to find a good...read more
Maza nav Sami aahe (translation: my name is Sami), I am a senior at Brandeis University majoring in Education and Sociology with a minor in Social Justice and Policy. Ever since I got home from India I’ve been attempting to find a good response to the daunting question “how was your summer?” Going to India was one of the best, craziest decisions of my life. The Alliance for Global Education offered the perfect opportunity to gain hands on experience in my field of interest while immersing myself in a completely different culture.
I learned so much about India’s rich history and was able to conduct research on the ways in which peer education is used to increase safer sex practices among female sex workers. Every person I met was kind, hospitable, and willing to guide me through the challenges I faced during my time in India. By the end of the trip, I felt confident in my ability to navigate through Pune, negotiate with a rickshaw driver, and wear a sari.
India has so much to offer, the culture is incredibly vibrant and full of surprises. I was able to see many facets of Indian society; I participated in a festival, travelled into the slums, and attended a wedding. In two short months I was inundated with knowledge of a new land and was inspired by all that I learned. Now that I’m back, I am constantly reminded of my Indian summer adventures. I would love to hear from anyone who is thinking about studying abroad in India! I had an incredibly rewarding experience and would be happy to share some of it with you. hide
Namaskar! With little knowledge about the country, Indian culture, and no experience eating Indian food, I was nervous about going half way around the world by myself for a semester in Pune, India. As a Public and Community Service major, I chose the...read more
Namaskar! With little knowledge about the country, Indian culture, and no experience eating Indian food, I was nervous about going half way around the world by myself for a semester in Pune, India. As a Public and Community Service major, I chose the Contemporary India program because of the focus of the classes on health, the environment, and social justice. From the moment I met Alliance students in the airport, I knew that I would enjoy my time in India; the excitement and passion of the Alliance students and staff extinguished my fears of homesickness and loneliness. All of my professors were extremely knowledgeable, approachable and open to frequent discussion. Some of my favorite memories are a field trip with my Environmental Perspectives professor to visit his son’s organic farm, a weekend trip to a beautiful fort in the water on the coast of Maharashtra, and an overnight car ride to the deserts of Rajasthan. I also loved morning yoga sessions and walking through the city to school with my roommate.
I came to find out how much I enjoy Indian cuisine and eating without utensils. I discovered that I could adjust to living in a completely new place- even a very hot one! The Alliance staff was a great support to have along this journey, and the twenty-nine students I met will never be forgotten. I would be happy to answer any questions you have, so feel free to contact me! Om shanti, Kathleen hide
Hello all, my name is Farron and I attend UMASS Amherst. My major is Social Thought and Political Economy with a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Why did I decide to go to India? Well for one, the program fit my needs. I was able to do the summer...read more
Hello all, my name is Farron and I attend UMASS Amherst. My major is Social Thought and Political Economy with a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality. Why did I decide to go to India? Well for one, the program fit my needs. I was able to do the summer program and still have the chance to do an internship around women empowerment as well as learning more about social issues in another country.
During my stay in India, not only did I fall in love with the food, culture, and the women, I also fell in love with the education that I received. By doing an internship and taking courses I was able to push and challenge myself and seek new horizons. For example, often our universities talk about cultural understanding and appreciation as well as being able to work with people with different backgrounds but it's completely different when your are actually doing it. By going to India I had the privilege to be emerged into a different culture and meet so many amazing people who were passionate about making change in their communities. However, if I didn't have an open mind or an understanding of cultural acceptance then my experience might not have been as awesome.
In short, India was a mind blowing experience that I would not trade for the world! Yes, there were times when I was frustrated, but those moments were small and irrelevant compared to the bigger picture...that I’m in another country learning new things about myself and another culture. If you would like to talk to me or learn more about beautiful India and my experience, please feel free to contact me. Remember "trust the process!" hide
नमस्ते | मेरा नाम माईसी हैं | Hello. My name is Mysee. I’m a student at St. Catherine University ’13 in St. Paul, MN. I am a double major in Women’s Studies and Critical Race Theory. In the fall of 2011, I studied abroad in Pune....read more
नमस्ते | मेरा नाम माईसी हैं | Hello. My name is Mysee. I’m a student at St. Catherine University ’13 in St. Paul, MN. I am a double major in Women’s Studies and Critical Race Theory. In the fall of 2011, I studied abroad in Pune. Studying abroad has been one of the most amazing life experiences I’ve had thus far. Not only did it enable me to learn more about myself but it challenged me to grow in ways I never imagined. I was interested in going to India for three major reasons. First off, I am a HUGE Bollywood freak so I thought, why not go to India and experience the real Indian culture. Second, through my courses I’ve been introduced to several Indian women scholars so I wanted to go to India and see firsthand, what were the issues that Indian women faced. And lastly, I wanted to experience living in a developing country. Overall, it was a good experience. I accomplished my goals of speaking Hindi, learning and performing Kathak, watching a Bollywood movie with no subtitles, making friends, eating with my hands, and working with an NGO. If you have any questions about the academics, the daily life experience, Maharashtran culture, etc… don’t hesitate to ask! Chalo! Take care. hide
Nihao! My name is Eva Cohn and I am interested in all things Chinese! I had the opportunity to study abroad in Beijing through the Popular Culture and Social Change program (Fall 2013) and in Xi’an through the Xi’an and the Silk Road...read more
Nihao! My name is Eva Cohn and I am interested in all things Chinese! I had the opportunity to study abroad in Beijing through the Popular Culture and Social Change program (Fall 2013) and in Xi’an through the Xi’an and the Silk Road program (Spring 2014). I learned more about Chinese politics and society, environmental concerns and sustainable development as well as art and food. As an Anthropology major and Chinese minor at Temple University, I found the Alliance to fit all my academic and personal needs through their diverse programs. Come talk to me about your Chinese interests! hide
Hello everyone! My name is Gwen Gardiner and I'm a senior studying Psychology at the University of Alabama. This past summer I studied in Pune, India and conducted a psychological research project as part of my senior honors thesis for my...read more
Hello everyone! My name is Gwen Gardiner and I'm a senior studying Psychology at the University of Alabama. This past summer I studied in Pune, India and conducted a psychological research project as part of my senior honors thesis for my university. It was an incredible experience to be able to carry out research in a country as diverse as India, and I learned so much in the process. I’m looking forward to helping future students gain insight into the fascinating culture of India! hide
Read what these students have to say about study abroad with the Alliance in Asia!
Visit the Accepted Students section