Myanmar: Traditions & Transitions Gap Year Semester

Video and Photos


Magnetic. Inspiring, devout. Myanmar is a nation of warmth, beauty, and complexity. Men still wear traditional longyi and women use the bark of the thanaka plant as a natural sunscreen. President Thein Sen opened Myanmar’s borders to the international community in 2011 after fifty years under a repressive military dictatorship, and students on this unique semester program have the opportunity to engage with Myanmar’s unique cultural heritage, yet untouched by Western influences. Together, we explore complex themes related to cultural preservation, economic development and political transition as they relate to the shifting face of Myanmar today.

We offer comprehensive, personal home visits so that we can answer your questions in person. One of our expert staff members will present on our program options and share stories from their own formative Where There Be Dragons program. To request a home visit in less than 2 minutes, fill out this form.

  • Comprehensive examination of international development issues, complexities of globalization, effects of modernization on traditional livelihoods, minority status and cultural preservation, creative grassroots solutions to global problems.
  • Buddhist and Animist communities. Meditation Study.
  • Staying with local rural communities while trekking in Shan state and the Mandalay state dry zone.
  • Partner with Myanmar's largest Monastic school, learn adobe building, rural development projects, education and literacy NGOs.
  • Basic Burmese language.

Questions & Answers


based on 5 reviews
  • Housing 9.6
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Value 10
  • Safety 10
Showing 1 - 5 of 5
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A trip to remember

How lucky I feel to have had the opportunity to take part in such a unique, exciting, and enriching course. As I reflect back, writing this with a smile on my face, I feel so immensely grateful for being able to embark on one of the most rewarding, challenging, and exciting semesters I will probably ever have. This program was truly like nothing I have ever precipitated in. I’ve gone to sleep-away camp for 7 summers, and done organized trips—this is not like that. The Myanmar course does an incredible job of pushing students outside of their comfort zone, creating unique experiences, fostering authentic community connections, and most importantly it gives students the opportunity to excersize a degree of independence that holds students accountable for the trajectory of the trip. Throughout this course you learn the importance of being comfortable being uncomfortable. You are provided with a learning experience that no four walled space ever could. It’s not always easy--it’s rugged, it's difficult, it’s tiring, but it’s almost always interesting, rewarding, and new.

I also found it incredibly fulfilling to be able to immerse myself in a foreign place for such an extended period of time. My peers and I were able to learn so much about the place, the people, the language, the culture, and the traditions through reading written work from articles and books. We then discussed the content amongst each other. And then we were able to further our knowledge through speaking with people throughout the country and NGO leaders. We joked that we were leaving as “little Myanmar experts.”

The instructors that we had on course were truly some of the most lovely, interesting, smart, different, and kind people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They help shape my perspective and challenged me. I learned more than I ever could have hoped to learn from them. They go well beyond the definition of educator. They inspire, they teach, they care, they innovate, they learn with you, and they are always there for you.

If you like adventure, straying from the norm, being uncomfortable (in the best way), surrounding yourself with new experiences, having fun, laughing, the unexpected, and so much more—then this is the course for you. I assure you it will be an experience like never before.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Life-Changing Experience

I had an amazing experience in Myanmar. Our itinerary allowed us to do many things that would have been impossible had I been traveling alone. We trekked in remote areas, did homestays, connected with local students, and even sat in on a meeting of parliament. My instructors were incredible. I felt that I had agency over my experience but that support was available whenever I needed it. I was given opportunities to push myself out of my comfort zone but I never felt unsafe. Returning home, I have a lot more confidence in what I'm capable of than I did before.

When I decided to go to Myanmar, I didn't know much about the country. This made the experience even more eye-opening. I was immersed in a culture that was completely new to me for three months. I absolutely have a new perspective on the world after my Dragons trip.

If you're looking for an experience that changes your perspective, gives you opportunities for personal growth, and brings you to a beautiful and complex place, this program may be a perfect fit for you. It will be challenging at times but it is absolutely worth it.

Yes, I recommend this program
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The best trip!

Before choosing Dragons, I looked at a lot of different gap year programs. I’m so glad I choose Dragons because no other program would have given me the the amazing experience that I had.

I traveled to a country that I knew little about. And I left knowing so much more with the deepest respect for the country. I met and talked with many inspiring people who are working to bring about positive change in the country. People whom, I wouldn’t have been able to meet if it weren’t for Dragon’s connections. I had brilliant instructors who pushed me and my group to question everything we took for granted. My group was full of the most amazing people. People, who I would never have thought would be my friends, but now I’m sure we will all be life long friends because of the this shared experience.

The trip was truly extraordinary! Not to say that it wasn’t difficult at times but that’s what made the trip even better. Dragons forces you out of your comfort zone and it makes you grow. You come out on the other end a better person. There were some incredible highs on the trip and some low lows but I wouldn’t change a single second.

I’m so grateful to have had this experience. I’m going to treasure these three months I spent in Myanmar for the rest of my life.

How can this program be improved?
It was perfect .
Yes, I recommend this program

A diffrent kind of gap year program

I spent the fall of my gap year doing this program. Before I left I had a lot of misconceptions of what to expect from the trip.. I pictured myself spending the three months petting elephants, drinking from coconuts, and hanging out on crystal beaches (though at certain points on our trip we did do all three of these). I had friends who also took gap years and chose to go with other programs where the majority of time they spent doing things like this, and its clear we got very different things out of our trips. Where There Be Dragons is something else--my experience in Myanmar was rugged, exhilarating, and though it was tough at times, one of the most gratifying and joyful experiences of my life. If you're looking for an experience that does not push you out of your comfort zone, that does not make you question the world you live in and your role in it, then this trip is not for you. Now going off to college next year, I am fearless. I spent the last three months sleeping on mats, eating rice with my hands, and trekking through muddy mountains-- I know that if I can do that, then I can do anything!

How can this program be improved?
I wish we could have studied and practiced meditation more.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Gap Year in Myanmar

I spent the fall of 2017 in Myanmar with “Where There Be Dragons” and I could not have had a better experience. I learned a lot about the culture in a very short period of time. The program connections really allowed us to get below the surface and form lasting relationships with people all over the country. Expect to be traveling In cramped quarters for long periods of time, living out of a backpack, and sleeping on the floor. It won’t always be easy but overall awesome experience.

How can this program be improved?
Even more trekking.
Yes, I recommend this program

About Where There Be Dragons

Dragons programs are authentic, rugged and profound learning adventures that expose the beautiful and complex realities of the countries in which we travel. Featuring extended itineraries, Dragons programs encourage deep immersion into strikingly...