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Trek View on Nepal: Himalayan Studies Gap Year Semester with Where There Be Dragons

Hello, fellow travelers!

Greetings, everyone.

As I’m writing this to you, I’m glancing at my open tabs in Chrome and noticing what I’ve got on the front burner right now…, multiple Dragons pages, some lessons I’m working on, a Google drive folder with heaps of information about Nepal and our course, a page to work on refreshing my Nepali…noticing this is really making it sink in that we’ll be starting our journey together in less than a month! It’s been a couple years since I was in the Himalaya, and I am so thrilled to get back. The sights and sounds, the smells wafting out of hole-in-the-wall restaurants, the chaos of traffic, the warmth of the people…in some ways, it feels like going home to me.

Charis and Shannon have both already mentioned this in their intro posts, but I feel I need to give you a nod as well – signing up for a program like this takes courage! We’re so impressed, and excited to work with a group of young adults who are willing to take a leap into the unknown with us. There are many other options for what you all could be doing this fall – we recognize that. It’s not an easy decision to commit a large chunk of your year to traveling to the far side of the world with a group of people you’ve never met – frankly, to lots of people, it’s a bizarre idea. But to us it signifies that you all are explorers, interested in pushing the limits of your knowledge and opening up to new ideas and world views. This curiosity is inherent in the fact that you are going on this course, and it’s also essential to getting the most out of this trip.

As Paul Theroux once said, “Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.” This sentence holds so much in its simple six words. It suggests that real travel isn’t pretty. Real travel is gritty, and sweaty, and weird, and sometimes awkward. Real travel is on the ground, moving slowly, not avoiding things because they’re uncomfortable. Theroux seems to suggest also that if you’re feeling glamorous, you might not really be traveling. The distinction between travel and tourism is one that for us is vastly important, and also rarely an easy distinction to make – we’ll talk lots about this on our trip.

But this quote also suggests that when looking back on travel, memories of things often become glamorous. You may also hear this phenomenon referred to as “Type 2 Fun,” wherein an experience is uncomfortable, or scary, or painful in the moment, but later it becomes a memory of joy, learning, and growth. I am a firm believer in pushing myself to have un-glamorous, type-2-fun experiences, because I know that it is in those moments where I grow the most and see myself most clearly. I also believe that traveling this way is what allows me to find and build connections with people. Traveling this way is what opens the doors, and the hearts, of the people with whom we build those connections. And that, really, is what it is all about. People. Listening to them, hearing their story and telling them yours, finding commonalities and differences and letting that space between teach you something about the world and the universal language that everyone speaks, if we’re willing to hear them.

We’re so excited to meet you, and travel with you, and learn with you. Please, take a few minutes to write a short intro about yourself here so we know where you’re coming from, what you’re excited about, nervous about, or have questions about.

Looking forward to hearing from you, and meeting you soon!