I chose this program because I actually knew two friends who had done gap years through Dragons. They were some of the most incredible people I had ever met, so before I had even done any research I knew that this organization had to be special. Upon looking into it further, I was completely blown away by the thoughtfulness and care that goes into designing and executing these programs, and the real dedication to cultural immersion.
A college student who was looking for an unconventional and rewarding summer experience!
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
This is a very structured program, which was nice because we students didn't have to worry about logistics or anything like that, and we could really focus on being present and fully engaging with everything we were doing. Homestay's, food, travel, and daily activities were all planned by the instructors. That being said, we did have some unstructured time to just hang out or go explore where we wanted, and we had a hand in helping make the plans, so it wasn't like we were just being pulled along.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
I would say go in with as few expectations as possible. No matter what you will be surprised and amazed by the things and people that surround you, so be open to really giving yourself over to spontaneity - it's wonderful! And don't be afraid to learn things about yourself or to be vulnerable, both with yourself and others. Being as open as possible to every new experience will make everything so much more fulfilling.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
It varies so much! One of the hallmarks of Dragons that sets it apart is its flexibility. The itinerary can change a lot while you're on course, but generally, you will always be focusing on one of the main program components, be it trekking, comparative religion, language study, home stays, or self-reflection. There really is no "typical day!" But, generally, I'd say every day involves some sort of group activities/lesson, yoga or meditation/mindfulness, time for journaling and reflection, and venturing out into whatever town/area we were in at the time.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I was just so unsure of how I was going to react to all the major cultural differences of India. I had never traveled somewhere so different from the US before, and I was so nervous about the Indian toilets(!), getting force-fed by homestay families, not having access to clean water super often, and other general things like that. But I was so surprised by how quick and easy it was to adjust, especially when you're with a group of people going through the same thing and with instructors as kind and helpful as Dragons instructors.
What could you say about the program in general?
I just want to rave about this program and this organization!! Never in my life have I encountered such passionate and special people than those I met through Dragons, both the instructors and the other people in my group. I learned so much about myself, others, our place in the world, the endlessly beautiful people and landscapes of South Asia, and countless other things, and I truly wish everyone could have the beautiful and eye-opening experience that I did on this course. You will NOT regret it, and you will not get as immersive and authentic an experience as Dragons anywhere else!