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

Nepal has been…

At the mid-point of every course we set aside an intentional time to reflect on all that we have learned and experienced so far and all that is to come. As part of a reflection activity, we had students write down their thoughts on what Nepal has been so far and we wanted to share some of their beautiful thoughts with you.

Nepal has been…

a jolly, grand time. A country harbouring some of the world’s greatest views, fascinating cultures and some of the most wholesome people offers an amalgam of experiences and opportunities. Though, despite the comforting surroundings, Nepal can challenge anyone who strives to challenge themselves.

an influential experience. It has reminded me that wherever you are on the earth people are people and everyone comes from different backgrounds that make up who they are, just as your background makes up yours. I’m reminded to leave more room for others to allow myself to learn from the people around me.

so welcoming. At first it was overwhelming, dusty and loud. But at the end of the day I have been able to recognise this place in all its unique beauty. I have found a strange sense of comfort, home and familiarity.

not what I anticipated, but better. The views leave me in awe each way I look. The snowy Himalayas in the layered mountains and cloudy distance. The sublime colours of the villages you see when you take that last flight of stairs up to the roof. The friendly faces you pass by each turn you take down the crowded yet isolated alleys. Nepal has been an experience that cannot be fully expressed on such a small piece of paper.

a place I’ve fallen in love with. A place for me to discover myself. A place with new challenges and new accomplishments.

transformative. It has been emotionally challenging, full of cultural differences, diarrhoea and a little more diarrhoea. Being sick in a foreign country is not fun. Adjusting to a new culture has opened my eyes to new norms, which has taught me to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. Nepal is also gorgeous and I’m so excited to wander through the magical Himalayas with child-like amazement. Woo!

rewarding. When I first arrived in a completely foreign place with total strangers I wasn’t sure what to expect. Now that we’ve been here for what feels like a lifetime, changing our pace and learning about a new culture together, I’ve discovered that I’m more capable than I have previously believed and more motivated to life fully.

amazing. A journey of self discovery and challenging in many ways at the same time. It has been a journey full of opportunities, exploration and unique experiences. The sights, the colour, the people jump to my mind immediately. I have loved getting to know and experience the culture as well as interacting with many local people. The nature here is also astounding and the spiritual wisdom that lives in these lands can be felt and it is a blessing to experience. It has also been a journey of self analysis and of challenging myself in order to grow as a human being.

a succession of splendid unexpected turns and rebounds thus far. The rest is still shrouded in a mystery future yet to be unveiled.

an exercise in making connections. Opening up to a new culture and new people has pushed my boundaries but been so rewarding. I’ve had a great few weeks and formed so many new and meaningful memories.

a whirlwind. Time has flown since orientation and I have become increasingly comfortable here. in my homestay I learned about food, hospitality and what is happening in Indian soap operas. From wandering the streets and courtyards of Patan, to enjoying a part with my family, to hiking through trees and flowers, I have found myself still myself, but intensely aware of my surroundings. I am often simultaneously struck by the common humanity of all people and similarities between cultures and the newness of many cultural elements and my experiences in general.

an overwhelming contrast between the dusty, winding roads crowded with shopkeepers and honking motorbikes and the serene, peaceful courtyards with children playing and old women chatting over tea dressed in colourful yak wool shawls. It has been a comforting scent of dal baat that comes along with the “hissss” of the pressure cooker on the stove. And finally it has been the beginning of new connections, formed during an early morning yoga session or over a cup of milk tea.