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

Tentative Itinerary

Hello and welcome to your tentative itinerary! Over the past few weeks, we’ve begun planning our semester together and we want to share this with you. Please remember that some things might change due to the flexible nature of Dragon’s programming. So let’s all be as flexible as this cat. 🙂

Week 1 Orientation – After you all arrive in country, we will begin our adventure in Bhaktapur, a beautiful and ancient city. We will settle into the Bhaktapur Guesthouse where we will spend about five days. Orientation is a time for us all to prepare for the journey ahead: we will begin getting to know each other and Nepal (!), establish group culture, talk about our goals and start learning a little Nepali. The Durbar square in Bhaktapur is a World Heritage Site and a visual treat. Its alleyways are packed with artisans and we will definitely be doing some exploring.

After orientation we will hopefully be able to spend a couple of days at a nearby permaculture farm where we will learn about agriculture, sustainability and get our hands dirty!

Weeks 2 – 4 Urban Homestays – We will spend approximately 3 weeks getting really familiar with Patan, a city rich in history, art and architecture. Some of our time in Patan will be quite structured, as described below, but you will have time to explore the city independently. Additionally, the time you spend with your homestay families will provide a great opportunity to get to know the city in yet another way.

Monday-Friday in Patan: Each morning the group will meet at our program house to eat breakfast, check-in with each other about how we’re doing and have your Nepali language class. Some days we will also make time to hear from incredible guest speakers – artists, musicians, activists! Other days we will have student or instructor led discussions and dive deeper into topics that we’re passionate about.

After lunch together, you’ll spend the afternoons doing your Independent Study Projects (ISPs). There are so many options, a few include: wood or silver carving, painting, tailoring, cooking, photography, a host of musical instruments and ayurvedic medicine.

Saturday & Sunday: The weekend will be devoted to spending time with your homestay families, but also exploring the city and its surrounding areas through student led expeditions.

Week 5 X-Phase 1 and Mid-course – One of the most exciting opportunities you will have on your semester will be to plan and execute something called an Expedition or X-Phase. You’ll book tickets, plan activities, lead discussions. This is a time when instructors take a step back so that you all can begin to cultivate important travel and leadership skills.

Week 6 Meditation Retreat – We will do our retreat at Namo Buddha, where a khenpo, a title used for those who have achieved the highest levels of monastic education, will talk to us about Buddhist history, philosophy, practices and community. We will definitely talk a lot about the retreat before we embark on it- the retreat often challenges our ideas and identities and we want you to be able to dive into new concepts with as much support as we can provide!

Week 7 Rural Homestay – Following our meditation retreat,  brimming with questions and calm, we will travel to our rural homestay. Similar to the Patan homestay, you will live with families, but this time in an entirely different setting. Here, we’ll work with families in their homes and fields, discuss issues surrounding development, service and progress, to name a few. You will also get the chance to use your newly acquired language skills to communicate with and get to know the community.

Weeks 8 & 9 Trek – We know this is a part of the semester many of you are looking forward to! We will mostly likely be doing our trek in the Annapurna region. While the trek will definitely challenge us all, both physically and mentally, it will also bring us all together as a group. We will learn about and practice our expedition behaviour, continue to discuss issues of development and dive deep into questions about conservation and sustainability. The views also promise to be grand. 🙂

Week 10 Rest and X-Phase 2 – While the trek will surely be amazing, we might (definitely) all need showers at the end of it! We will spend a couple of days resting and taking it easy. You will also be able to use some of this time to continue planning and put the final touches on your second X-phase. We want you all to be able to have two occasions on which you have autonomy and responsibility. You will have to do some planning ahead of time, but we have no doubt that you’ll manage to create an excellent little adventure for us. 🙂

Week 11- Transference – Before we come to the end of our time together, we like to take time to reflect on the months we’ve spent together,  but also think about how we can carry this trip forward into the next phase of our lives. At Dragons, we call this Transference. This intentional, often emotional and important time together will mark the end of our semester, but the beginning of something new and just as special.

As we say our (tearful) goodbyes, we’ll be sad this time is over, but so excited to see what awaits us all.

We hope this itinerary is helpful to you and that it gets you excited about our semester!