Why did you choose this program?
I was interested in GAP year programs for the summer and came across Global Routes online. The Nepal description caught my eye and had me hooked. I loved how they described the program and I’ve also always been interested in Asian culture. I knew I wanted to go very far and do a program out of the country.
I read many good reviews on Global Routes and watched YouTube videos about the program. I took to the internet and did research on Nepal and knew it was going to be a life-changing experience. The photography on the Global Routes website was also amazing.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
Our program leaders were more than amazing and helped with so much. I always felt safe and they always had something interesting, life-changing and amazing to talk about. You can feel the love for the country both of my leaders had and culture. They were very supportive and provided outstanding meals.
They provided all transportation, health questions, medical supplies, money, food, water, and knowledge. What I had to do was live on my own at the homestay and stay with my host family and other group members. We had to get up and meet everyone at the health post each morning in the village.
I also carried my own trekking bag and bought all of the materials I needed myself. We also had free time at night in the tea houses. We would organize group games at night.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
One piece of advice I would give is to bring more pictures from home because homesickness is a real thing and can get pretty intense some times. Also, my host family was very interested in my life in America, so I wish I had more pictures to show them.
Another piece of advice is to go in with a positive mindset always and remind yourself of the opportunity the universe has given you to experience something as epic as traveling.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
The average day is eating breakfast with the group, waking up early and ready to start the day, incredible views (always), learning, trying something new, hiking, playing soccer, talking to the guides, leaders, locals, group members, learning the language, trying new food, feeling tried, climbing stairs. That is usually all in one day.
A week consists of everything stated above, along with bridges, monkeys, temples, tea houses and leaches!
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 getting some type of disease or getting sick from food or water. How I overcame my fear was telling myself that, if it happens, it happens, and there’s nothing I can do about it other then to keep moving forward. Everyone gets sick; it’s only natural and normal, especially for being a new traveler. And my fear of disease faded because I was so distracted by everything else going on around me during the trip.
Eventually, I wasn’t afraid of much by the end. It was more so, in the beginning, I felt more anxious because I did not know what to expect. I think the only thing that actually bothered me was my homesickness because, by the end of the trip, sickness never came across my mind.
How do I mentally and physically prepare for this trip?
On the physical preparation part, stair climbing and going up as many steps as possible is a great way to start. During the trek, we climbed thousands of very steep steps and I was not prepared for the amount of stair climbing. Running and stair climbing will help a lot.
On the mental behalf, going into the trip with a positive mindset and finding the joy in the little things. For example, the way the clouds paint the skies in the morning makes the trees look so green and the peaks look so beautiful. Finding the good in every situation and the fact that some things happen for a reason and to the ride the wave of the emotion you feel.
One of my favorite memories from the trip is when I was eating dinner (dal bhat) with my host family and I was watching the sun go down and all the houses in the valley light up. There were very few houses, but the feeling was amazing and I felt so content - just sitting on the porch with my Nepali family enjoying a sunset and being in the moment.