How is life at TISS Mumbai

"An intense time with people"

Karoline Kalke completed an internship in Mumbai. A place that has significantly shaped her life and continues to shape her life.

The idea of ​​leaving Vienna and doing an internship in India was one of her best decisions for Karoline Kalke, says the 25-year-old Berliner enthusiastically. As a master's student in social ecology, she really wanted to find out how intervention work works in a country like India. “I was driven by my curiosity and my interest in getting to know people and other cultures.” Encouraged by fellow students who had already been to India, she decided to do an internship at the AAU's Joint Study partner university, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences ( TISS), advertised in Mumbai. After completing all administrative tasks, such as formulating a letter of motivation, applying for a visa and making Skype calls with TISS about the content of the internship, the time had finally come: Karoline Kalke spent almost three months at TISS, with her spent most of her time working in the fields.

Well protected
“When I arrived at the airport, I immediately felt that I was in good hands,” says the student, who was received by a pick-up service and brought directly to the campus. International students were accommodated in hostels on campus. “These were incredibly well equipped compared to the accommodation offered by Indian students,” says Karoline Kalke extremely critically. “Right from the start, I felt very comfortable - like in a sheltered bubble - and was immediately integrated by the international students and quickly made friends with the Indian students.” “Everyday life,” she says, “is well structured on campus , and social life is determined by meal times: breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner take place at specific times. Completely different compared to our student life. ”For Karoline Kalke, the weeks were characterized by work in the field, research on the master's thesis and participation in a Hindi language course. “I couldn't get used to a certain kind of tutelage from my Indian friends right away,” she says. “But this was meant to be dear. They were just afraid that something might happen to me in traffic, for example. "

A city with many faces
Her most important finding: “Mumbai is a fascinating city for me and it just overwhelmed me. A place where there is actually nothing that does not exist. A country full of contrasts, and in many ways: Poverty and wealth are only a few meters apart, ”says Karoline Kalke. “The streets are overcrowded with people and you are in the middle of the action. Sometimes, when you turn into a narrow side street, you find yourself in a completely different world: surrounded by small houses and coffees with culinary specialties. ”Culinary, she enthuses, the stay was a real pleasure,“ when you especially enjoy Indian food loves ". At the weekend she traveled around the country with friends and visited various places in Mumbai.

Often reached the limits
The stay abroad was a personal enrichment for Karoline Kalke. “I have never shared such an intense time with people. Since then I have approached certain things much more relaxed and have got a differentiated perspective on life. ”Karoline Kalke often reached her limits through her field work. “As a student of social ecology, my ecological heart was broken at least five times a day,” a situation she first had to deal with. As part of the TANDA (Towards Advocacy Networking and Developmental Action) project, she was part of a project team and was out in the slums on the outskirts of Mumbai several times a week. "At first I mainly observed how the women and children were worked with." She had a lot of contact with the locals and got to know their way of life and problems. “We gave the women advice on hygiene, nutrition and the correct use of water. Because especially during the monsoon season it is important to avoid illness. ”Karoline Kalke was particularly touched by the work with the children. She developed a transformative educational concept to arouse environmental awareness in children.

“When you are on your way to the slums,” she says, “you drive through an industrial area on streets that are actually not streets, but that are muddy and have deep potholes. But that's typical during the monsoon season. ”Karoline Kalke describes the life situation of people as very simple: They live in stone houses or houses with sheet metal walls that consist of one room, mats on the floor are used as beds, the water is fetched in front of the house and there are almost no toilets. “Holes in the ground are used for this.” Only after her return to Vienna was she able to really process what she had experienced. This stay changed her, "I became more circumspect, more grateful and my priorities have shifted extremely."

Further stays in Mumbai followed or are being planned: She spent February in Mumbai and in the summer a two-month stay to collect data for her master's thesis on the subject of eating habits will follow in Mumbai. Karoline Kalke never lets go of India.