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

Sunday, September 23rd, 6:09 pm

When I left for Nepal just over a week ago, I really wasn’t that nervous. I knew I was going to miss family, friends, and other loved ones, but I was so excited to go that my anxieties were outshined.

Since arriving I’ve felt the ups and downs, but most of the first week was filled with laughing and beautiful distractions, with only small pangs of sadness and homesickness. I’ve been lucky for this, considering I’m the type of person to think myself into madness.

However, I knew coming to Kathmandu following our first week in Pharping would be a different story.

Kathmandu meant finally being surrounded by a bustling city, going to the program house and meeting Amrit and Christy, going to Asan Market to design Kurtas, and looking for the perfect pants to wear during morning yoga. Kathmandu also meant staying with a new family for three weeks, and the possibility that none of them spoke any English.

This wasn’t something I was anxious about while in Pharping. I was itching to get into the city and meet my new Amma, help cook dinner, work on my Nepali, and really just have a second family. However, when I got to Kathmandu yesterday morning, the anxiety began to set in. Would my homestay family like me? Would they be nice? Would we be able to speak in English when my Nepali failed?

My nerves began to dissipate when I finally met my Amma at the program house. Both of our names were called, a quick “Gita Karki,” followed by a “Charlotte B,” and just like that, we were mother and daughter for the next three weeks.

I walked home with my cousin, sister, and uncle. My new uncle and cousin had also been at the program house, waiting to be matched with another member of Nepal Him-A. Julia, my roommate while in Pharping, had become my cousin in a matter of minutes. Our families lived nearby one another, so as we walked to our homes, we shared nervous but excited laughs the whole way. Finally arriving at my house, I said goodbye to Julia, and walked inside with my sister, mother, and younger brother. After getting settled we ate a quick meal, and then all headed to bed around 8:30.

Waking up the next morning I felt well rested and excited for what the day held in store. Everyone arrived at the program house with stories about what their first night with their new families had been like, and then we all headed to Asan Market. As the day went on, and I became exhausted after picking out just the right Kurta fabric, and I could sense dread building up in my gut about returning back to my homestay later that evening. I was going to be living with them for the next three weeks, they were my new family. This was scary.

When I got back to my house around 5:30, I said a brief hello to my papa, as we both had things we wanted to get done before dinner, him, to finish up in the garden, and me, to read some of the letters my mom, dad, and best friend back home had written me before leaving for Nepal. I hoped these would calm my nerves.

Just as I pulled out the letters, I sat down on my bed. I was about to open a letter when I looked up from my bed and out the window. There was the moon, peering right into my room. The tears that had filled my eyes since shutting the door to my room had somehow been drawn back into my body, and I could feel myself beginning to calm.

I’m here. I’m in Nepal.

I have been for a week, and somehow, it feels like it’s been months, but also like I just arrived yesterday.

I’ve waited months to be here, and though it’s okay to get sad and miss home sometimes, it’s not okay to let my anxiety about the rest of my time here determine, well, the rest of my time here.

So how do I sum this up. I’m anxious and nervous, but also excited and incredibly grateful to have been given this amazing opportunity. What’s important is to make room for those anxious, sad, and nervous feelings, but to ensure that they don’t encroach on my excited, curious, and hopeful ones.

So I’ll glance over the letters in my hands, and stare back at the moon for just a moment, before setting my letters on my desk, saving them for later. Now, though, it’s time for me to make my way into the kitchen, where I know Amma is cooking something delicious (likely something I’ve never had before) and ask her if she needs help cooking, hoping that, even though every time I ask she says no, this time she’ll say yes, and it’ll feel like home.

Love, Charlotte

6:44 pm