I remember months ago looking at the yaks from the previous course to try and get an idea for what I was getting myself into, which means that there are probably a few of you doing the same. Consider this a small collection of tips that might help you get the most out of your experience.
- You will get as much out of this course as you put in. Your instructors will remind you constantly to own your experience, or that this journey is yours to take, and they’re right. There will be times when you will want to find the most western style cafe to sit in and forget that you’re a world away from everything you know, and while those breaks can be refreshing, you will want to commit as much of the short time you have here to experiencing Nepal.
- Don’t forget your Nepali. You will have lessons for the first couple weeks of the course–use them. Write down words your host families use, and keep using them. Even when you find people who know English, you will find the satisfaction from using your skills is worth the fair bit of confusion and miscommunication. There’s no better feeling than finally saying a sentence with relative fluidity.
- Eat anything and everything. This can be a hard one if you’re a picky eater, and there’s not a lot I can say that will make it easier. However, I do think every food here is worth, at the very least, trying. Ingredients you thought were the most disgusting thing in the world can turn into one of your favorite foods when mixed in with some dal bhat. Also, try and clean your plate, when you can. Especially with your host families, you’re going to be getting a ton of food, but having little food waste is a reward unto itself, I think you’ll find.
- Take time for yourself. This may seem easy, but once you meet the 11 or so awesome people that will make up your group, it’s possible that you’ll want to spend every minute with them. I encourage you to really take more time than you normally would to do stuff on your own. Explore a little, get lost, sit down and write or read or do nothing for an hour. I think you’ll find some cool experiences.
- Get lost. I mentioned it before, but for me this has been critical to my experience. Especially in the urban settings, getting lost leads to so many cool things. You’ll find things you never would have otherwise, people you never would have met, courtyards with the neatest little shrines you’ve ever seen, etc. The course is called Where There be Dragons because there’s tremendous value in getting off the beaten path, and trust me, you can always go further.
There’s way more that I haven’t listed, but ultimately those are things you’ll have to find for yourself. Good luck, have fun, and learn a lot.