I have always described myself as very independent. I moved out of my house when I was 14 and have spent a majority of my adolescence with a large amount of freedom, encouraged and supported by my parents.
I have spent a summer wandering around New York City, days lost in the woods without a phone, and weekends among friends in new and unfamiliar cities. Through these times, although exciting and requiring courage, I was never truly out of my comfort zone – and I never noticed this until I got to Nepal.
In the states I never noticed the ever present sense of familiarity and ease that muddled any possible fears. There was no language barrier, and I almost always had my phone to use as a navigation system in case I got lost.
In my urban home stay in Patan, this is not the case. I have to rely on myself more seriously than I ever have before, armed with a Nokia flip phone and a map of the city. It can be intimidating, but also refreshing. It feels good to be challenged, to truly leave my comfort zone, and to experience something so new and unknown.
Even the unfamiliar can feel homey. At the end of the day, after many hours asking for directions in broken Nepali or a yoga lesson, I still come home to a family who cares about me. We eat dinner and then watch reality T.V. (Nepali Idol instead of American Idol) and I feel right at home, a similar routine in a different place.