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Photo by Kendall Marianacci, Nepal Semester.

A Journey of Firsts

This has been a journey of firsts for me. On Wednesday, February 7th at 2pm, I took my first international flight. Landing in the Abu Dhabi airport 13 hours later marked the first time that I ever set foot in another country. And after another 6 hours of flying, when we finally staggered off the plane and into the streets in Kathmandu, sleep deprived but at the peak of curiosity, it was the first time that I was truly aware of the magnitude of what being here with this group of people would mean for me: this was going to change my life.

Since that initial realization, I have since been showered with moments that either remind me of home and the universal truths that exist between all people and cultures- competitive spirit when it comes to cards, for example; as well as by moments that have left me stunned and acutely aware of how much novelty has been consistent in my life for the past month, and how Nepal is like nowhere else in the world. It has been the combination of these experiences that is allowing me to better understand myself and my place in all of this. It was just the other day, one of the only times I’ve cried since being here, that Shanti asked me how I was doing, how I was enjoying my time here. I started to tell her how incredible it has been, how close I have gotten with my homestay family, how deeply I adore daal bhat, tea time, watching the sunrise on my walk from Kapan to the program house each morning, exploring nearby cafes, the clarity I have gained from my weekly yoga lessons with Rupesh… as I was telling her this, I started to realize how seemingly small these things might sound from an outsider’s perspective. How something as simple as tea time is not a profound concept, but for me it is slowly training my mind to make time for peace, at least three times a day. Or how a 25 minute walk in the morning through winding streets and past beeping cabs appears to be a hassle- why not just take the bus? But the morning air and logic to the chaos of the roads here has brought me a meditative sense of calm each time. And how I have grown to appreciate and cherish even the smallest of moments. In describing this, I became aware of how quickly my time here has gone and will gpo. I have spent so much of my life, specifically in the past five years, in a constant state of expectation, of restlessness, of anticipation and waiting/preparing for what is to come. And I can feel that part of myself- that part that has such a firm grip on control and time and expectation taking a deep sigh of relief- and letting go. This moment of realization that slowly but surely I am learning how to experience the world and the people around me on a moment to moment basis brought tears to my eyes. I looked at Shanti and I told her that I could feel myself becoming the person that I know I have the potential to be.

The constant state of the universe is becoming. There is no endpoint, no finish line, no mountain peak that we will one day rest of flag of victory on… There is only here. Right now, in this monet. To quote Thich Nhat Hanh, “I have arrived, I am home. My destination is in each step.” It is impossible to foresee what is to come on my journey here. But I know that if I am the one who allows myself to be open to whatever is to come, both in Nepal and in the future, then my life will continue to be a journey of firsts. I couldn’t ask for anything more.