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Photo by Kendall Marianacci, Nepal Semester.

An Honest Letter to Patan

Dear Patan,

Recently, we’ve been working on peer reflections and I believe you are well deserving of one. I’ve never lived in a city before, let alone one in a foreign country. My first week here was difficult. I had a hard time with our new structured lifestyle because everyday leading up to our arrival here was so unique and we were always moving forward. I struggled to find a solution to my initial problem of spending money on momos and coffee just to pass time. I bought a sketchbook in hopes that that problem would be fixed with doing art. It didn’t really work, but definitely became a good source of entertainment as we hung around our favorite coffee shops. As time passed I became more comfortable with you and felt confident in knowing where your roads would lead me. We’ve been here 20 something days now with a couple more to follow and I feel like I know you very well. Like how we don’t really need those Durbar Square Visitor Passes we bought on the first day here because more than half the time guards don’t check to see them. Or when we go to Himalayan Java and it takes twice the amount if time to pay with card rather than cash, yet we still pay with card almost every time because it’s one of the only places that takes it. Or how our walk in the morning differs in street life whether we have to be at the Program House at 7 or 8am. Also, realizing that the sketchier the momo place is the better the momos will probably be. My favorite part of getting to know you, Patan, is the people you have within. From the baristas at Himalayan Java who probably cringe every time we walk in the door to the ones at Dani’s Cafe, the lady at the internet cafe that’s made quite the profit off us, Kobe the friendly security guard, our language teachers, the blind person who gave me a massage, our ISP mentors, and many more. As well as, our amazing home-stay families that we happily share stories of everyday. The terms, “mom, dad, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa,” have never been so confusing and when being told a story it can take a while to comprehend whether someone is talking about their real family back home or their Nepali family. But my personal favorite is a specific storekeeper. One day I was shopping for my loved ones and spent so much money that now every time I go back he gives me the “friendship discount.” I’m not sure what his name is, but his smile is one that I will remember for a long time.

Lately, there was a question proposed to us about the stories we’re more likely to share with our family and friends back home. “Will you share more stories about things that involve western aspects or ones that involve more cultural differences?” I can honestly say that I will equally be sharing both. I’ve enjoyed observing the cows that roam freely in the streets and eat trash, and the countless restless nights from the sounds of dog-gang violence outside my window. Also, bartering with shopkeepers and as my fellow Dragons will say to them, “this better not be a tourist price because I live here.” I chuckle every time I hear this because there’s definitely some level of truth to that. I’ll happily share stories of how I’ve been to two different video game cafes and spent part of my afternoon playing Fortnite and Fifa ’19 (in fact I already have told friends back home). Or the mall I’ve been to that’s 50x times nicer than the one closest (40 minutes) to me back home, where I’ve splurged on KFC a couple times because it’s so “finger lickin’ good.”

I’ve loved getting to know you, Patan, but I can honestly say I’m excited to say goodbye. I’ve become too comfortable here, everything feels too convenient and I’ve spent way too much money. I’m ready to leave you and my Nokia burner phone behind as well as my high score of 1360 on Snake Xenzia. I’m sure I’ll be seeing you again someday, but for now Chokati and Rolwaling are calling. Thanks for all the amazing memories and being the first city I can consider a home.

Sincerely,

Lauren Forgione