Alumni Spotlight: Madeline Kay

Hi! My name's Madeline, I'm from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I graduated high school 1 year early and took a gap year to Nepal and Tibet at the age of 17.

Meet Madeline!

Why did you pick this program?

Madeline: Pacific Discovery didn't seem like the usual program, and trust me, I shopped. They were more focused on learning about religion and local culture, while maintaining an eco-friendly mindset.

What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?

Madeline: People had been constantly telling me I'd get homesick in the two months I was gone. But it never happened! I honestly didn't want to come home right away, I even booked myself an extra two weeks in Thailand after my program ended.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

Madeline: A key part of the Nepal/Tibet trip is the 2 week trek through Langtang National Park, which includes some of the most beautiful views of the Himalayas. Throughout the trek we ate at the tea houses we slept at, which often served us naan, dal baht, and other dishes I would never imagine having at home.

It was very authentic, and gave us perspective on what the locals ate, but after we completed the trek and made it back to Kathmandu, a few friends and I decided to treat ourselves to American food. We ate burgers and fries, drank milkshakes, ordered sides of bacon, and were over the moon. After we finished we somehow decided it'd be a fun idea to go and get a second full meal, this time Italian. I have not laughed so hard or eaten so much since that night.

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

Langtang Trek

Madeline: Packing is impossible! Pacific Discovery was so helpful by giving us tips and an extensive packing list, but I still struggled. You always forget the little things, like a toe nail clipper.

What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions or future path?

Madeline: On this trip I truly fell in love with travel. It was my first time going to a different continent, and I wanted more than anything to keep going. This has helped me decide that I want to go to a university far from home, in a place where branching out is easy.

What changed the most for me is that I realized that I can do essentially anything I want. After becoming familiar with the Nepali culture I saw that I am so fortunate to be able to roughly plan a journey to a foreign place and just go. Americans make travel sound difficult, like a treat to be enjoyed once every few years. But in reality travel is less expensive than you think, and completely within reach if you just try!