Alumni Spotlight: Upasana Shrestha

Upasana, often referred to as 'Paso', hails from the small but beautiful country of Nepal. She is an average 19 year old who recently got slammed out at a poetry slam competition. She would like to go to medical school and is currently studying to do so. She has successfully managed to survive (barely) living with 15 other cool kids while taking a trip around the world.

Traveling with Winterline

Why did you pick this program?

I picked Winterline because I heard its name during homeroom, casually checked its website, skipped through everything except the part where it said '10 countries, 9 months', and decided that it was what I'd be doing when my friends left for college! As I seriously started considering it, I realized that Winterline was very different from the other programs in the sense that it gave you the opportunity to explore the uncharted. I saw the list of 100 different skills and couldn't help but imagine myself doing things I'd never given a second thought to. I thought of the chance to learn scuba diving, combined with the fact that I didn't know how to swim and thought, "Hmm..this is going to be interesting". I remember thinking about how this program was the start of adventures and getting an adrenaline rush. The program ensured a lot of traveling, a lot of new experiences, and seventeen other people I'd never met before. That night, I sent my application, then called my parents to ask them about it.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

I tell them that once you take that step, you will never be the same. It might seem a little cliche, but I stand by that line. I'd also tell them that good memories will be with you forever and the not-so-good moments make funny stories too, so embrace every experience. Also, if they're Nepali friends I advise them to carry their own chili powder!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Probably to find something you're passionate about and look for it everywhere you go. We always joked in the group about how maybe we should take photographs of cows around the world. We didn't actually do it, but I thought that it was a pretty cool concept. For me, art and photography are some of my hobbies. Exploring that in Berlin, in the streets of India, and in Spain gave me a whole new perspective. Focus on what you love doing and don't prioritize the significance in terms of resumes, money, and other's opinions. Connecting your personal interests to other places and people fuel your passions and make you see them through a whole new lens!

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

I love telling people about the time I accidentally got locked in at my host family's house in Costa Rica. It was independent internship at Winterline and I was on my own for a couple of days. It was my fault because I'd waved my hosts goodbye but decided that I had a few minutes to spare. So, I went back to my room, started applying mascara, and halfway through, I realized that the family was locking the house! I had to start banging on the windows and shouting for help. I then racked my head for the minimal Spanish I remembered and had a light-bulb moment, in which I used my extensive movie knowledge to come up with the bright idea of flicking the lights on and off. They finally realized that I was still in and let me out. I just think that the story perfectly describes what took me a short time to learn about traveling: to expect the unexpected, and to just forgo the mascara sometimes.

Upasana's Packing Tips:

  • An identity card other than your passport like a driving license or student ID card, as well as a copy of your health insurance card.
  • A list of emergency numbers
  • A small pack of tissues and hand-sanitizer.
  • Map and a small notebook with phrases in the local language.
  • Money, a small hidden amount in a different pocket for unforeseen situations, like pick-pocketing!
  • Street-savvy friend (this only applies to places where it might not be the best idea to walk alone).
  • Sunglasses and headphones (if you need a few moments for yourself to collect your thoughts or a short break from a crowd).
  • A power bank for your electronics.

  • And last but not least...

  • Seaweed, which makes a great snack (can also be used in the events of sushi emergency!).