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Photo by Kendall Marianacci, Nepal Semester.

Dear Future Student

Hello fellow Dragons student. You are about to embark on the wildest journey you could imagine. I’m so excited for you! You’ve just made an extremely brave decision, choosing to spend the next several weeks in a country you probably know nothing about, with people you’ve probably never met, on a journey which I guarantee will not be at all how you’re imagining it to be. There are some things I wish I’d known going into my course, some things I wish I’d brought, and stuff I’d done along the way, that could’ve made my time even more amazing. So, I’ve talked with everyone in my group, and we’ve compiled a list of suggestions. I don’t know where you’ll be going in the world, but wherever it is, here are a list of things we of Nepal: Himalayan Studies Spring Semester 2018 Group B, recommend.

Dear future student,

You’ll be tested. A lot. In ways you’ve never been challenged before. Only you can make something out of it.

Bring a duffel bag large enough to fit your backpack inside. If you get too much stuff on course to fit in your  backpack on the trip back, you can pack extra stuff in the duffel. It’s also very useful for storing things you don’t need to bring with you during certain parts of the course.  The packing list is the way it is for a very good reason.

Enjoy the struggle. Your biggest moments of growth and change are done when you’re out of your comfort zone. Nobody builds muscle strength without pushing their body. This is the same for everything else in life.

Don’t pet the monkeys.

The best moments will come at the most unexpected times, in the most unexpected ways. Trust yourself, trust the experience. It will change your life if you let it.

If you are hoping to find a tandem bike in the Greater Kathmandu Valley, you will be sorely disappointed. So try not to expect to find something specific. If it’s not there, it will sour your experience.

When you join with your group, you will quickly realize that this is your new family. Embrace them, and the people here will be lifelong friends if you put in the effort.

Challenge yourself in every aspect of the trip, even if it seems to be in your comfort zone.

Don’t pet the monkeys!

Remember that things change in a group. Live in the moment, and embrace every chance you get.

Let go of who you believe yourself to be, in the true Buddhist tradition. You cannot change if you hold on to your past.

Take care of yourself. Your hygiene routine is important, as is taking time for your emotional health and stability.

Re-frame success. Know exactly what a success for you looks like with something, and try to fulfill that standard.

Know your limits. Push them to the limit, but never overdo it. It’s not worth putting yourself in danger when the repercussion could be leaving the trip.

DON’T PET THE MONKEYS!!!

Get close with your instructors. Sometimes it’s hard to not see them as just that, but they’re as big a part of the family as anyone else on your trip. They can be your closest friends if you try.

Don’t let problems fester. Tension is always toxic in a group like this. If you need to VMOP or storm, do it. You’ll know what this means soon enough.

Bring dietary supplements (emphasis on the pluralization). You will be a much happier person for it. Your stomach will not be used to ingesting food from wherever you’re going, and having consistent 1’s on the poop scale is never fun.

Get to know your homestay family. Your relationship with them will be something you’ll forever cherish.

If you have a problem with a rule or something about the course, voice it to your instructors. They’re there for you, and will work with you as much as they’re able to make things work for you.

Seriously apply yourself in your language class. For our rural homestay, our families spoke about as much English as we did Nepali after our first Nepali class. You will need whatever language is relevant for your course. And there’s nothing more satisfying than having a conversation with a native in their language, and seeing their face lighten up at the fact that you understand their language so well.

Bring books. You’ll have a ton of time to read, use it well.

Journal every day. It’s often grueling and a chore, but absolutely useful. I hate journaling with a burning passion, and the most important souvenir and piece of memorabilia I’m bringing home with me is my journal, which is filled with details of every funny moment I shared with my friends, every success and milestone, and every face I never want to forget.

I hope this helps, and I hope you get out of this course what you want to. I’m very excited for you, I wish you more than luck.

Best wishes,

Nepal: Himalayan Studies Spring Semester 2018 Group B.