PLS 494/593: India Study Abroad

May 2010

Autorickshaw advertising call center course (Tan)

Paige Tan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Public and International Affairs

Contact: 910-962-3221,

Pending approval by the International Programs Advisory Board for 2010, PLS 494/593 will operate as a 4-credit spring-semester course, with two weeks travel to India to follow the conclusion of the semester.


A student comment from the 2009 course: "Thank you so much for organizing this amazing trip! It is everything and more than what I hoped for--I'll remember it always." 


May 9-24, 2010 TRAVEL TO INDIA

After the in-class portion of the trip, we will leave for India the day after graduation, our trip lasting about two weeks (ground time is slightly less since flights are very long).  We will encourage students to book air travel together, so that faculty and students will travel as a group throughout.  Our India trip focuses on just two states in the south of the country, Karnataka and Kerala. 

Karnataka is a diverse state but best known as home of the city of Bangalore, hub of India’s high-tech and off-shoring industries.  Kerala is the neighboring state, long ruled by an elected Communist government;  the state has high levels of literacy and gender equality and so is an interesting companion to visit along with “high-tech” Karnataka. 

A comment from 2009: "I absolutely loved this trip. All of the events--temples, orphanages, different organizations, monuments--were fascinating.  The trip was an educational vacation, with a perfect mix of urban cities and beautiful tropics. I would travel to India again in a heartbeat."

BANGALORE (Bengaluru on the map above, the "Garden City")

Getting welcomed to India with flowers and bindis (photos by Tan, left and Prema, right)

Our trip begins in Bangalore.  We will meet with Greenpeace India to learn about the environmental challenges India faces as it develops.  At the other end of the socio-economic scale, we'll spend a day with an NGO which works in development among the urban poor and helps children in crisis (  We'll visit a technical training institute for young women studying medical transcription, tv repair, fashion design, and other fields.  You'll have a chance to shop Brigade/MG Road, the beloved FabIndia, and Forum Mall.

Friends at Greenpeace Bangalore. Second from right, Ms. Deepa Joy, and right, Mr. Mrinmoy Chattaraj, both Outreach Officers (Tan)

Kids at the Dream School run by the Association for Promoting Social Action, APSA, Bangalore (Tan)

Enjoying Indian food at APSA (Tan)

A comment from 2009: "This class was not only educational, but it was the experience of a lifetime."

The lane on which APSA's headquarters is found, Bangalore (Tan)

Bull Temple, Bangalore (Prema)

Interacting with the young women at Nirmal Jyothi Technical Training Institute (Tan)

These women erupted in laughter and amazement when our student revealed that she had a boyfriend! (Tan)

Every interaction with Indian young people eventually turns to singing and dancing (P.S. Get ready!) (Tan)

Our group out shopping on Brigade Road, Bangalore (Tan)

Cows plodding through the streets of modern Bangalore (Tan)

Classic Inn, our accommodations in Bangalore (Tan)

A student comment from 2009: "The two-week trip exposed me to all the diversity of India and its beauty. It was an amazing experience."


From Bangalore, we will continue on to Hassan, a district capital nearby.  We will visit a biofuel research park to learn how some Indian scientists are trying to assist in sustainable development for nearby villages.  This project is the first of its kind in India.

  Dr. Girish and the Biofuel Facility (Bullers)

A simple machine for collecting the biofuel from the inedible nuts (Tan)

From Hassan, we will also see the temples at Belur (Hindu, 12th century) and later, Sravana Belgola (Jain, 10th century)

Elephant carvings, Belur (Tan)

Woman warrior, Belur (Tan)

A 2009 trip participant hamming it up at Belur (Lowda)

A 2010 participant posing like an Indian statue, Belur (Prema)

Climbing the 640+ steps, Sravana Belgola (Tan)

Almost to the top (Tan)

Colossal statue of Jain Saint Bahubali/Gomateshvara (Tan)

Our hotel in Hassan, the Hoysala Village Resort (Tan)

Renting a bike in Hassan and exploring the rural areas (Herbert), 2010 trip leader Dr. Bullers is at left.


A student comment from 2009: Great course. Experience was unprecedented. Tan was a great professor and trip organizer!


In Mysore, we will work with the Women’s Studies Program at Mysore University to deliver a half-day academic program on women and development issues.  We will also see the sights in Mysore, including the Amba Vilas Palace, Chamundi Hill, and the fascinating Devaraj market. 

Amba Vilas Palace, Mysore (Bullers)

Colossal Nandi on Chamundi Hill (Tan)

Images from Devaraj Market, Mysore (Tan)

Dr. Indira (left), Director of the Center for Women's Studies, University of Mysore, our host (Tan)

The ultra-modern campus of high-tech giant Infosys, Mysore

From a 2009 participant: "This class was amazing. It was my single most memorable educational experience at UNCW thus far.  I thoroughly enjoyed learning about India and traveling there was amazing."


From Mysore, we travel by air to Cochin in Kerala (this day will require a lot of travel, buses and planes).  Highlights include visits to the port of Cochin, including seeing an historical synagogue, the legacy of Kerala's ancient trade connections, and the opportunity to visit an orphanage for girls (and to learn about these young girls’ life histories).  From Cochin, we proceed to Thekkady and Periyar Park.  The park is home to elephants, tigers, Indian bison, and sambar deer.   We'll explore the park and try to develop an understanding of some of the environment issues India faces as it develops.  We'll finish in Alleppey with a stay at a resort and a cruise of the luscious Kerala "Backwaters" where students can get to see rural life up close.  

  (Photo right, Bullers)

Home of Hope Orphanage, Cochin (Tan)

Chinese fishing nets, Fort Cochin (Tan)

Kathakali Dance Performance, Cochin (Bullers)

  Wild elephant spotted, Periyar, Thekkady (Bullers)

Hiking through the misty jungle, Periyar, Thekkady (Bullers)

Spice market, Alleppey (Tan)

Rural life, Kerala Backwaters (Tan)

Our houseboat, the Ayurnauka (Lowda)

Village kids collecting water, Backwaters (Tan)

An elderly gentleman, Backwaters (Tan)

Lazy cruising along the Backwaters (Tan)

Our hotel in Alleppey, Kayaloram (Tan)

A student comment from the 2009 course: "Our trip was amazing. This has been the most memorable experience I've had in college so far. I have loved every part of our trip.  The people we met and the places we visited will remain in my mind forever. . . . I'm so glad I took this opportunity and my life has been forever changed for having gone."


Our plans call for staying at the following hotels during the trip. As payment and reservations cannot be made until 2010, some adjustments may need to be made.


COST:  The cost of the 2009 trip was approximately $3,800 for UNCW students.  The total cost for 2010 should be similar, though up slightly due to inflation. Gas prices in particular will affect our airfare cost. The Office of International Programs has grants for study abroad.  See for all the run-down on financial aid.  The total cost for 2010 will be calculated once we know how many students will be taking the course.

The program fee includes: on-the-ground transport in India by air-conditioned coach, 12 nights accommodation on twin or tri-share basis, academic programs/visits described above (Bangalore NGO, Mysore University, high-tech company, students in technical institute, biofuel facility, orphanage, and temples), city tours in Mysore and Cochin, trek or jeep safari in Periyar park, Backwaters boat tour in Alleppey, some meals, UNCW-mandated travel health insurance, and Office of International Programs administration fee.  Program fee does not include cost of obtaining a US passport ($100) or visa for India (@$75), some meals, personal expenses (laundry, drinking water, souvenirs, tips), optional itinerary items like Kathakali dance performance in Cochin, and pre-departure shots and medical precautions. 

Yes, that's a bathroom (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Lowda).

COURSE APPLICATION:  Due to the REAL HARDSHIPS involved in travel to a challenging destination like India, the course requires an application process. 

GRADES:  Please note that this course is challenging and, despite the costs of the trip, not everyone will get an "A."  Students will be graded based on their class participation, test, journal, and other assignments as specified in the course syllabus.  See

DATES: The course runs during the Spring 2010 semester, with travel to follow immediately after.  We will leave for India on May 9th and return on approximately May 24th.

DEADLINES:  The application is due Tuesday, December 1st. 

F YOU'RE GRADUATING: Actual clearance for graduation takes place after the formal May convocation. The graduation specialist in the Registrar's office, Ms. Paula Greene, has told me that if our trip is only two weeks and if I submit the grades immediately upon returning, no student should experience a hiccup in his/her graduation.  In the unlikely event that the worst case scenario results and we did not make graduation clearance in time, the degree would be conferred in August.

**Thanks to Dr. Susan Bullers who helped me to create this program. She traveled to India with me in May 2008 and contributed ideas, energy, and soul to the birth of this program.  Thanks, also, to Assistant Provost Denise DiPuccio and Director of Education Abroad Mark Gallovic as well as Roger Lowery, Chair of the Department of Public and International Affairs, who have supported this venture with funds and ideas.  Thanks, too, to Ms. Sapna Sabharwal, our trip coordinator in India.  Ms. Sabharwal's Milestone Leisures can be reached at e-mail: or phone: 91-99807 40928 or 91-96864 70323. **


To Learn More about Our Destinations, Visit:


Karnataka Sites

Karnataka Tourism  or  

Mysore Travel  

University of Mysore  

Bangalore at  

NGO: Association for Promoting Social Action (APSA)


Kerala Sites

Kerala Tourism   

The Government of Kerala   

Kochi/Cochin, India  

Home of Hope Orphanage  

Alleppey/Alappuzha Tourism  

Periyar National Park


Other India Study Abroad Opportunities:

The Colonial Academic Alliance, of which UNCW is a part, offers sharing of India programs which range from 6 weeks to a summer to a semester.  See

The American Institute of Indian Studies runs language courses in India that serious and interested students might consider pursuing as a follow-on for our study abroad trip. See

AIFS and CIEE run semester-long programs in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. This is another of India's high-tech cities.  See or



Star Anise, Alleppey Spice Market, Kerala (Tan)

Last updated: June 21, 2010.


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