Emily Owens

Emily is a full-time student studying biology at Cardiff University, and works part-time as a barista at Caffè Nero. For her, every summer holiday is filled with a trip to a new part of the world.

Why did you choose this program?

volunteering with elephants in Nepal

I chose this program (PMGY The Real Nepal Experience) because it offered the chance to soak up the culture of Nepal in every way: from volunteering with locals to trekking the Himalayas, to learning Nepali and living with a Nepali family. It also provided the chance to travel as a group ensuring safety and guidance within a foreign country.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

For me, the program organized airport transfers within Nepal, accommodation for my entire stay within the country, guides for the trekking, a volunteer placement, currency conversion, language lessons, site-seeing, and also some meals.

It was also possible to take out travel insurance and book flights through the company. I had to organize airport transfers within my own country, vaccinations, a DBS check and a visa myself (although a visa is obtained upon entry to the country).

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

I definitely recommend packing light for a trip abroad. It's not a fashion show and you will appreciate the lighter load when it comes to carting your belongings from one place to the next.

It is possible to wash clothing when you're out there, and if you truly are desperate you can pick up almost anything locally from shops and stalls.

Another piece of advice would be to keep an open mind. People from around the world all live different lives and have different values and cultures. Respect and embrace this and you'll find the experience completely life-changing.

If you plan on trekking, I'd recommend making sure that your general fitness is okay too. It'll make the entire experience much more pleasurable and you'll get to appreciate the utterly outstanding views throughout the whole hike.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Personally, every week for me was different. The first week mainly consisted of sightseeing and activities, the second trekking, the third volunteering, and the fourth sight-seeing, shopping and observing wildlife.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was probably creepy crawlies and the food!

Little did I know, this was not actually a big problem. The food was absolutely delicious, although I never thought I'd be eating curry for breakfast! The creepy crawlies weren't really that bad either. Just take plenty of insect repellent, and put the idea to the back of your mind.

Did you get sick at all during your time away, and how did you overcome this?

Yes, I did get sick a couple of times, but once you've been sick once, you generally don't get ill again as you get accustomed to the new diet. It's nothing to really worry about, and nobody got seriously ill, just a few upset stomachs.