I chose this program because I'd never considered going to Nepal prior to hearing about the program. I could honestly say I didn't know anything about Nepal or Nepalese culture, and I didn't feel comfortable traveling there by myself since I was so clueless. Plus, the community service aspect of the program seemed like it would be particularly rewarding and overall helpful to those we were serving.
Genevieve hopes to use what she's learned from her travels to help other young people accomplish their travel dreams and help make the world a more peaceful place.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The program providers (AFS combined with GVI for the program) organized all flights from New York to Nepal and back, food, accommodations, and transportation. I had to organize my flight from Chicago to New York at the beginning of the trip, and from New York to Indianapolis at the end of the trip.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Don't expect anything to be "like America" or for things to be done "normally" when you travel abroad. If you constantly compare other cultures to your own (in a negative way), you'll never be able to appreciate how unique it is. Also, your normal will not always be someone else's normal, and that does not mean you're wrong or they're wrong. You're not traveling to have experiences that you would have at home, you're traveling to be challenged and see the world through another culture's perspective.
Additionaly, If there's aomething I definitely would've done different is not focus so much on what was going on back home. I went to Nepal literally right before I started my first year of college and I kept freaking out about ordering my textbooks and going over my campus map because I was so nervous. I didn't get back until 11 PM on a Sunday, and I had an 8AM class on Monday. Looking back, everything I was so freaked out about definitely could've waited until I was back home and I know I missed out on some fun things because I was busy worrying. So make sure to always be present and focused on your experience, what goes on at home can wait until you get home.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Your breakfast is prepared by the lovely family that owns the hostel, followed by some free-time, and then you leave to either volunteer or participate in some cultural-immersion activity. However, this program provided a lot of variety when it came to the itinerary. We spent some days trekking, some days were all work, and some days involved a lot of free-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?
My biggest fear was flying by myself and finding my group at JFK was also very daunting since I had to cross the airport from the domestic to international section. I overcame it by simply doing it. When it comes to fears like this, there's no way to sugar-coat it; you just have to do it. It's important to accept that you will be nervous and that is totally okay! After flying solo twice on this trip, I felt way more comfortable the next time I flew by myself, and that time I was going to Europe on my own. After you successfully navigate a couple airports by yourself, it feels like second nature.