Alumni Spotlight: Olivia Sotirchos

If nothing else, Olivia is a die-hard believer in the power of curiosity, creativity, and nature.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program as I was intent on returning to the Himalayas. I was on another Dragons course in Nepal the summer before, and wanted a trekking-intensive experience, which was the focus of this course. Additionally, I wanted to explore Tibetan Buddhism in another area, which this course gave me a chance to do!

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

Dragons staff assisted me with nearly everything! I just had to pack for myself, obviously, and obtain an Indian e-Visa, which was an easy and self-explanatory process. All students are given a packing list and are put in direct contact with office staff, past alumni, and a forum with their instructors so they (or their parents) can have any questions answered promptly.

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

This is a trekking-intensive course! Get ready to be uncomfortable and mentally/physically challenged, but expect to emerge stronger in all aspects.

Enter the course with NO expectations or preconceived ideas of what your experience will be like. Be open-minded, flexible, curious...and bring a journal!

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

The flexible and unique aspect of Dragons courses does not allow for me to accurately answer this question.

Student’s interest and input are of high value in each Dragons course, so a week on my course may not at all resemble a week on the same course the summer after.

This is a strength of Dragons programs, and a unique component linked to the organization's commitment to small groups, local instructors, and a flexible itinerary.

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

This was not my first time travelling abroad or trekking in the Himalayas, but I did reach the highest altitude I've ever been at by foot during my course. This was probably scariest to me for possible health risks, but I overcame this slight fear quickly as I was wholly confident in my instructors' attention to safety.

After completing two courses requiring you to live out of a backpack, what are three essential items you think everyone should bring?

  • Two to three more pairs of underwear than you think you'll need. Trust me, you might get super sweaty, a friend might lose a pair, you might be too lazy to wash your clothes one day, or a pair may float away down the river as you lose grip while washing....oops!
  • If you're super into photography like I am, make sure to bring extra batteries and/or extra memory cards.
  • Bring photos from home to share memories with your group/instructors, or to share with your homestay family! Sweet memories are made this way.