HYDERABAD: It was through a study abroad programme that Alexa Hartsell from Texas got to explore the beauty of India. During her stay in Hyderabad, she has managed to fulfill her dream, which was to travel, teach and dance at the same time. Being a dance enthusiast herself, she took the opportunity to teach ballet dance at a cultural space in the city. “I am a ballet dancer myself, so as part of a voluntary service that I wanted to do, I decided to conduct the workshop. I would dedicate Wednesdays for it.” Though she didn’t have any experience in teaching dance previously, the enthusiasm with which the participants wanted to learn made her endeavour easy.
“I came to the city to attend school at the University of Hyderabad(UoH). I had the option to go to any country during my undergraduate programme, usually for one semester, and get credit for them.” She chose Hyderabad as it was only place in India, her school in America would accept course credits from.
Activities in Hyderabad
“I took ballet class at the cultural space. When I wasn’t at school or teaching, I was travelling to different parts of India,” she shares. And travel she did covering almost every corner of the country. She has visited Nagarjuna Sagar, Varanasi, Ajanta and Ellora, Kerala, Goa, Darjeeling, Gangtok, Coorg, Hampi, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and the Great Rann of Kutch.
Life at UoH
She took courses in philosophy of yoga, science of ayurveda, Kuchipudi dance and basic Hindi. Comparing the education here in India with America, she says, “The education in America is very different than in India. I found that the course load was pretty light for undergraduate courses here which is why I was able to travel so much. I had a lot of fun studying in India.”
She loved staying in India because she was able travel and teach dance which she loves doing.
“It was amazing to be able to travel to an entirely different area of the country every single weekend. When I am at home, I usually have no free time. I took advantage of every second I got here. Also, this was the first dance class I had ever taught completely on my own and it really was a life changing experience.
I always had the goal to travel, teach, and dance at the same time in my life, but I never realised how seamlessly all three could come together until I got to India. I could do exactly what I have always dreamed of doing and it seemed like the kids in the ballet class really enjoyed learning dance too.”
Though Alexa seems to have enjoyed most of her stay in India, she didn’t like the head wobble habit that the South Asians are known for. But she eventually got used to it she adds. “When I first came to India, I found myself getting very frustrated because I simply wanted either a yes or no answer, but instead I got the head wobble. However, now that I am back at home, I find myself having an occasional head wobble too,” she laughs.
She would want to come back to India again and again, she wants to get a taste of each and every part of the country.
“I would like to visit places like Uttar Pradesh, Kashmir, the North-East, and the South during my next visit,” she says.