India: On the Front Lines of Climate Change Gap Year Semester

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Investigate the impact of climate change at the source, traveling from Himalayan glaciers to the Indian plains, examining environmental activism across cultures and landscapes.

From the Bay of Bengal to the highest Himalayan peaks, water dictates the lives and livelihoods of millions. As the Earth’s climate changes, warming temperatures at altitude result in higher glacial melt in the Himalayas, while more unpredictable weather patterns leave millions vulnerable to drought and cyclones or other tropical storms born out of the Bay of Bengal. Dragons India semester offers students the opportunity to go beyond India’s trodden traveler trails to live and learn alongside communities on the front lines of this era’s climate crisis.

College Credit is optional for an additional fee.

  • Deep focus on the practical impacts of climate change and water issues in varied ecosystems from the mountains to the plains
  • Spend time in communities that are off the beaten path, learning alongside India’s vast diversity of people, cultures, and landscapes
  • Pick an area of interest and dive in with a local mentor! Sitar, tabla, Indian cooking, Kathak dance, Hindi or Urdu language, vocals, women’s issues, comparative religion, stone carving, woodworking, and jewelry making are some popular options.
  • Investigate issues of health, education, urban migration, the caste system, human rights, gender, social inequality, poverty, climate change and more.
  • Delve into local rhythms on a high altitude trek and at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery retreat.

Questions & Answers


8.5 Rating
based on 2 reviews
  • Housing 9.5
  • Support 10
  • Fun 9
  • Value 9
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 2 of 2
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Yes, I recommend this program

A Self-affirming experience

I decided to spend a semester of my gap year with Dragons because I wanted to challenge myself. It certainly was a challenge, but it was so worth it.
Varanasi is a beautiful, colorful city, unlike any place I had ever seen before. There is so much to explore. I loved sharing meals with my homestay family.
After a fast-paced six weeks in bustling Varanasi, Ladakh offered me much-needed peace and space to reflect. I hope to one day return to the Himalayas.
In India, I encountered for the first time various physical and mental limitations, and worked through the difficult process of figuring out which of those limitations I need to accept and which ones need to be challenged. I made incredible bonds with people I never would have met otherwise. I learned that I am capable of so much more than I thought possible.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Do as much as you can. Go out of your comfort zone and take advantage of every opportunity that interests you. Talk to locals - and listen - and form relationships with them. I spent a large portion of my program being really afraid, but I got home and regretted not pushing myself to do more. Be safe, of course, and take care of your physical and emotional health, but pursue the things that excite you. You can rest when you get home.
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Yes, I recommend this program

A Great Experience

I did this Dragon's course in India for the second semester of my gap year and absolutely loved it. The course is rather structured and you are in a big group for a lot of the time, but there is also a lot of free time that they leave for you to utilize on your own. Through this structure, we all soon realized that it is really up to us to have the experience we want. Yes, the program has a strong structure and set of rules, but pretty much everything else is left up to you. If you don’t ask any questions yourself, you won't find any answers.
I took an academic course, Regional Seminar, for credit alongside the mandatory classes that are part of the regular course (i.e. Hindi, ISP). Classes for credit seemed to be more of a new, experimental part of the course and because there were only a few students taking courses them out of the group of 12, there was not a lot of opportunities to hold discussions or write papers, or really have class at all. I am glad I did it though, because taking an academic course like Regional Seminar and being able to put the readings in context really allowed me to dive deeper into my experience and connect more with what I was seeing around me.
Dragons instructors are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. They are there to facilitate your experience and help with any problems you might have. At the same time, they emphasize that they are not there to hold your hand during your travels. The course aims to teach it’s students to travel mindfully and view the world as a global citizen, and it did just that for me. Thank you, Dragons!

What would you improve about this program?
The course also relies heavily on group dynamic, and that dynamic being very good and strong. I think it is great that they put so much thought into these dynamics and their rules against excluding people, but if there is a problem in the group (or some kind of beef) it is very hard to deal with