Current Students

India trip extends classwork through immersive experience in Kerala for Bellarmine senior

Student Stories

By Lily Koch
Every Bellarmine University student must take a Senior Seminar class on a topic outside of their major. Each Monday evening from 6 to 9 p.m. last fall, our class of 10 met to study with Father John Pozhathuparambil, our campus priest and the Director of Campus Ministry. Father John openly welcomes all students and has truly never met a stranger. He is from Kerala, India, which we visited for 10 days in December. After a semester-long class, you could say we were beyond excited to begin our journey with our fearless leaders, Father John and Angela Rone, Chief of Staff at Bellarmine.
Lily Koch in IndiaI enjoyed every day and every experience, but I want to share more about a specific day.
My alarm went off around 7:10 a.m. and I was filled with a bit of tiredness, but a lot of excitement. This fatigue was the result of a 10.5-hour time difference in the hot yet beautiful state of Kerala, India. There are many states within India, and each state is different, but we primarily focused on Kerala, which is in the south of India.
I headed to the kitchen of the Franciscan Friary that we stayed at to get some coffee and breakfast before we headed out for the day’s adventure. This friary is where Father John did part of his studies to become a priest. I think this connection made our trip more special and it was rejuvenating to see Father John where his experience began.
We then loaded the bus and headed to an elephant sanctuary about 20 minutes away. When we got to the sanctuary, we walked through a jungle area and observed the elephants relaxing in the shade. While the elephants were breathtaking, perhaps our favorite part of this experience was interacting with a group of school children on a field trip. 
Next, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. This is when we first experienced porotta. This type of bread was immediately a group favorite that we then requested to eat at every meal. We also enjoyed butter chicken (my favorite and a classic Indian food), seafood, rice, cucumber salad, and ice cream for dessert.
After lunch, we went to St. Thomas Mount. St. Thomas is an important Saint for Catholics in India because they believe that he passed through certain areas of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Throughout our trip, we visited some of the places he traveled through, including the first church he built.
Later, we went to Sree Sankara Memorial Tower. Before entering this tower, we removed our shoes, a customary practice in India before entering a religious place. We climbed the eight-story tower and were mesmerized by the paintings on the walls of the stairway leading to the top that tell the story of Adi Sankara, a Hindu scholar. This shrine welcomes all people regardless of religion. It was a completely new experience for all of us. These new experiences help us learn about other cultures besides our own, and make our lives richer.
We ended the day with dinner and then headed back to the friary. When we got back to the friary from our day, I stayed up and played cards with the friars and my classmate, Tyler. We taught them to play Go Fish. They were not good at this game and just wanted the other person to win. They are truly some of the kindest people I have ever met. Safe to say I lost big time in this game of Go Fish.
This night and every night, we debriefed and reflected on our day together. These reflection times were important to us creating a deep bond and connecting with our classmates. This family feeling is fundamental to Bellarmine and part of the Bellarmine Experience.
This is only one tiny peek into a once in a lifetime experience thanks to Bellarmine. I assure you this is one of many amazing opportunities that Bellarmine provides. I am beyond grateful for wonderful experiences like this one that Bellarmine is filled with.
Lily Koch is a senior majoring in Nursing and Spanish. She is Vice President of Marketing for Bellarmine Activities Council and a member of the Bellarmine Society.

Tags: Current Students , Study Abroad



Located in the historic Highlands neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, Bellarmine University is a vibrant community of educational excellence and ethical awareness that consistently ranks among the nation’s best colleges and universities. Our students pursue an education based in the liberal arts – and in the distinguished, inclusive Catholic tradition of educational excellence, the oldest and most rewarding in the western world. It is a lifelong education, worthy of the university’s namesake, Saint Robert Bellarmine, and of his invitation to each of us to learn and live In Veritatis Amore – in the love of all that is beautiful, true and good in life.