A day in the life: India Project

Olivia Higginson is currently in India on a three month project and has written an excellent article below about what she does on a day to day basis…


7:00am Wake up. The family are normally all up. Ama (host mother) has often been up since 5am preparing vegetables and cooking for the day. My two host brothers, Vimal and Vijin, are both hard workers and often get up at 6 to attend tuition classes, or study groups with friends. I will stumble out of bed, and read yesterday’s paper, which the family kindly order for me in English and have a hot cup of Chai.

I go over my plans for the day’s lessons, and as the boys return from their studies the TV inevitably goes on and we watch Chhota Beem. Chhota Beem is a Malayalam cartoon I have come to love about a harem pant wearing, 11 year old India superhero. We may watch this as we eat breakfast. The boys favourites are pam, dosa or idli, rice flour based savoury pancakes or similar, with a fish or chickpea curry, whilst my favourite is having fruit such as apple or papaya.

Spelling races

8:00am I shower, and get myself ready for school. I have recently bought some traditional Indian churidar to wear for school. I make sure that I have no inappropriate straps or strings showing from my clothes and that my hair is neat. I can tell whether I have done it right, because if I haven’t Ama will helpfully say “You can brush your hair”, even if that’s what I’ve just spent the last ten minutes doing!

9:00amI walk to school with some of the neighbouring children. It is only a 5 minute walk through the village, but we chat about school or sing songs as we go.

I have been here nearly a month, but am still stared at! I think it’s something I’m starting to get used to. At least most of the local children have stopped crying the moment they lay eyes on me, so I’m counting that as progress!!

9:30am School starts. The day starts with some of the children singing a prayer, and then lessons begin.  I have four classes, and over the last week have been doing the topic family with them. We spend the day’s lesson using letter cards to have spelling races with the groups winning points for beings the fastest, and / or quietest. Many of the teachers come by to have a look at what we are doing. They are either intrigued or completely shocked that the children are being a little ‘chaotic’ and that I’m not telling them off. On Friday I award student of the week in each group, and distribute some small prizes and sweets.

Traditional Kerelan meal; Sadhya


12:30pm My lessons are normally finished so I walk home for lunch. This is normally rice with some vegetables, perhaps cooked in sauce or in chutney and some form of fish curry. We have meat on special occasions, and recently Ama brought home some very special chicken biryani from a wedding – the boys and I were very happy!

For the rest of the afternoon I have some time off. I can do my washing, catch up with my emails, read my book and plan for tomorrow’s lessons.

4:00pm I often have English Club. The students love to stay behind after school, and we will play games and sing songs. The kids get very hyperactive, but that makes it even more fun when they are able to channel this into a rendition of ‘If you’re happy and you know it!”


5:00 pm At this point in the evening I may have tuition classes which are taught at the house of the in-country co-ordinator Johnson. At school I teach 10-12 year olds, but here the students are between 16 and 18 and have much stronger conversational English. These last for 2 hours, and they love to ask questions (“Why aren’t you married?!”) and have debates, though they’re also very up for a sing-song as well. Sometimes I also do some less formal conversational work with Nisha, a niece of my host mother. She is the same age as me and an English teacher at a school in the city. She is desperate to improve her spoken English and tells me off if I don’t correct something she says. I am very intrigued about her life, so we often spend time talking about her marriage, or her new 3 month old baby.

Playing cards

8:00 pm Later in the evening, the boys often have their friends over, endless smaller kids from the neighbourhood migrate round and the house often fills. I spend time playing endless games of cards.

Sevens (something like Uno) is my favourite  whilst a nameless local game that they love to play is my worst. I lose every single time, without fail; a fact which is the cause of much hilarity in my house. I am however, still the undefeated champion of Connect 4!

9:00pm Dinner is often served around 9 and will usually be much the same as lunch. The boys and I will chat about school, their day or even Justin Bieber.

Interested in going? Apply now!

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