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

Of Host Families, Boudha and Color

The last few days I spent with my host family have been some of the brightest yet. As the nature of our trip is ever changing, a few things were rescheduled and I had to end my Independent Study Project earlier than I had planned. The bitter thought of not finishing my Paubha painting, a traditional Newari art style which I had been attempting to master in just two weeks time, settled after the incredible last session I had with my instructor. He sent me off with an only half finished Green Tara painting, but with visions of golden swirls and perfectly painted lotus flowers that call me to finish when I return to Colorado. Without ISPs in the afternoon, our last week in Patan opened up to planning a parting celebration with our homestay families. It is springtime in Nepal, and we spent some mornings buying fat strands of orange marigolds and bring yellow flowers, draping them across the banisters of our program house in decoration. The day of the party fabric was draped as a tent on the roof, and small, colorful cushions placed all across the floor. I dressed in my host moms’ saree, and our families all came to eat, laugh, and listen to us attempt to sing Nepali folk songs. Just two days ago in the late morning, after a long slow goodbye to the neighborhood temples and winding back alleys that had become my home, left Patan. I parted from my lovely homestay family with a gift, and a stern promise to my host dad that I would add him on Facebook as soon as I got home. Weighed down with my trekking clothes, bright gifts and souvenirs, two journals that I have already filled with sketches and notes, and my backpack covered in hand-carved keychains from my host dad, I sent off through the narrow streets of Patan again. After another near heart stopping bus ride (Nepali traffic is like a wild new language to comprehend) we have arrived in Boudha, a city that revolves around Nepal’s most famous and beautiful stupa. We saw it in the evening, when the streets had cleared of most other tourists, and the side shops lit up with glowing pink and red neon, blue and white string lights, and trays of candles burned. I walked around it three times, clockwise of course, following the footsteps of both the sun and the Buddha. The energy of Boudha is tangible, beautiful, and I felt it. Something about the Buddha’s massive, meditative, painted eyes watching me from each cardinal direction felt comforting. I lit a candle for my mom at the edge of the stupa, who I have been thinking of so much recently, and love always. It is a time of a lot of growth and transition for me, and this is the place to see it.