Naropa University

Why choose Naropa University?

Located in Boulder, Colorado, Naropa University is a Buddhist-inspired liberal arts university grounded in the philosophy that personal discovery precipitates inner and outer change. Through traditional academics, experiential learning, and contemplative practice, students develop intellectual acuity, a strong sense of self-awareness, and practical skills that allow them to create meaningful careers that contribute to the greater good.



Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Truly Once in a Lifetime

Being able to live on campus with Bhutanese students was a great experience. I took two classes on campus at the Royal University of Bhutan and three courses were taught by our in-country professor from Naropa University. We were able to cook our own food in the hostel, as well as try and learn to cook local cuisine. The landscape, mountains, hikes, views, and opportunity for new experiences arose daily, and I can confidently say that there is no other study abroad program in Bhutan that currently allows for such an integrative experiences. I felt very safe and was able to make friends with locals, and it was definitely a semester I'll never forget. If you are the type of person who loves new experiences, challenge, and visiting places that are more off the beaten path, you may find yourself excelling on this program.

What would you improve about this program?
Since Naropa University and the Royal University of Bhutan differ in academic rigor, some of the assignments and research projects were challenging to balance. Time management, and openness to new ways of learning are essential skills for this program.
Default avatar
Ana Caroline
Yes, I recommend this program

A One-of-a-Kind Opportunity

This program includes a semester of group travel and a semester-long internship bracketed by several intensive retreats. I traveled to Nepal and northern India with nine other students and two trip leaders in my first semester and returned to India to study a form of art known as Thangka painting in Dharamsala during my internship. I learned more about myself and the world around me during my year in this program than I have at any other point in my life.

Housing ranges from staying at retreat centers, living at ashrams, camping in tents, guesthouses, and homestays with local families. One of the most important aspects of the program is a deep cultural immersion, and we got really close to the people we stayed with. Even over a year later, I am still in contact with many of the people I met during my travels.

I personally felt very supported during my time with LEAPYEAR. Although the program may seem a little short-staffed at times, the majority of the staff members care about the students on a deeper level than I have ever experienced. Even when problems did arise, I felt very safe.

The program was both fun and really challenging. Things were not always comfortable. Many of us got sick, and being sick while away from home in a foreign country can be a really difficult experience. The self-reflection aspect of this program can get quite intense sometimes. However, I also had the opportunity to sing, dance, and laugh harder than I ever have. I adventured to places I never knew existed and got to know some really incredible people. LEAPYEAR taught me my own limitations and encouraged me to grow past them.

This program helped prepare me for future academic pursuits and the work I am hoping to do in the future. Every time I reflect on my experience, I learn more and more. LEAPYEAR was easily one of the best things I could have possibly done for myself, and I am so grateful for my experience. I feel much more confident and grounded after my time in this program. It was a completely life-changing experience overall.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
On our last day in India, my group members and I were doing yoga on a rooftop in Delhi when a fish dropped down on us from the sky. It was around 7 o'clock in the morning, and we were all still half asleep when it happened. We had no idea where it came from, but, in my opinion, it symbolized our many indescribable adventures quite perfectly. We all laughed about it for a while afterwards, and it was only one of many bonding experiences we shared throughout our trip.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Do it!

I studied abroad at the Royal University of Bhutan for 2 semesters at the College of Natural Resources. The original plan was to join for just one semester but because of a deep well of experiences within the first months spent in Bhutan, I applied to the program for a second semester!

The program is filled with lessons inside and outside the classrooms. Being at the College of Natural Resources provided a unique experience to dive further into my Environmental Studies degree as the college is located in a forested area of a valley which is home to many farmers. Interacting with locals and faculty who are engaged in research in Bhutan was inspiring! This was my first exposure to conducting primary academic research and I appreciate the support from Anne Parker, the amazing program leader, and the faculty at CNR.

CNR is a college that is growing quickly and sometimes the facilities in the student living areas experience difficulties such as absence of water or wi-fi. But I found that this was not a problem and instead was another learning experience which was immensely outweighed by living in community with the students!

There is a nunnery above the college that I feel so lucky to have been close to over the past couple semesters. All it took was a short hike up through the woods and there in the nunnery I would sit for morning and evening prayer or take in the view! The nuns are so friendly and welcoming there, I advise you to give them a visit if you go on the program and tell them I say hi :)

I'd like to encourage anyone thinking about the program and who may feel that they are incapable of affording the studies to look into the Gilman scholarship. I had been interested in the program for over a year before going and had delayed it because of finances. Scholarship awards made the trip possible! Here is the link for the Gilman:

There is so much to say about this program and why to go. But to keep it short- it is that in a semester's time you will come back from Bhutan with loads of memories and something in you will have changed (which is up to you to find out what that is :)).

What would you improve about this program?
Currently there is no exchange program which involves Bhutanese students traveling to the U.S. My understanding is that this is mostly because of funding. I hope that in the coming years this will change as Bhutanese students will have the opportunity to study in the United States (and it is my understanding that this will happen)!
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Traveling with LEAPNOW

My trip to Nepal and North India with LEAPNOW was my very first time traveling outside of the country. It was intense, it was beautiful, it was life changing, and I wouldn't trade that experience for anything else! I recommend this program if you are ready to change your life, listen to your heart, and see the world with clear eyes. The work you do during group travel is such a humbling and unique experience. The staff (which is more like family) thoroughly and carefully crafts the schedule to make your experience abroad the most culturally rich and special as possible.

Yes, I recommend this program

An Incredible Portal

LEAPYEAR has such profound richness and potential for transformation that it is not like any other program in the world. It moves beyond a traditional travel program by offering a portal to a wiser, new and improved version of yourself that may have otherwise taken decades to develop. LEAPYEAR fosters enthusiasm for learning, dedication to self-growth, service to others, cooperation, and the skills needed to live a joyful and fulfilling life. Through my time in Latin America, I found my whole world growing larger, both inside and out. I was able to connect deeply with the locals, learn Spanish, realize where I stand in the world, build bridges, step out of my comfort zone, and travel with incredible people. I recommend this program to anyone who is curious about the world and themselves and who wants to build a strong foundation for the rest of life to sit upon. I am so, so grateful for this experience.


Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Mari Dark

Job Title
Study Abroad Administrator

What position do you hold at Naropa University? What has been your career path so far?

Mari: I am currently a one-person office as the Study Abroad Administrator at Naropa University. The Study Abroad office at Naropa was dormant for many years before being brought back to life in June 2014.

My career path to study abroad has been an unusual one in that I lived and worked abroad in Germany, Japan and China several years ago but ended up working in the registration office at various universities upon my return to the States. I was actually the Registrar at Naropa University when the opportunity arose to apply for the newly created Study Abroad Administrator position here.

My skills as an administrator are strong based on my years in higher education and my passion for world travel is even stronger so I leapt at the opportunity to apply for this position. I feel like I have finally landed my dream job – helping create opportunities for students to study abroad and experience the world.

What does the future hold for Naropa University - any exciting new programs to share?

Mari: Naropa University launched a study abroad program in Bhutan in January of 2015. There are relatively few study abroad opportunities in Bhutan and we are the only North American university to have an official partnership with the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB). This partnership is based, in part, on the fact that Naropa is a Buddhist-inspired university and upholds many of the same values as the Royal University of Bhutan.

Our program is led by a Naropa faculty member with whom the students take three classes while also enrolling directly in classes at the Royal University of Bhutan.

In this inaugural year of the program, our students have reported that the combination of contemplative practice led by Naropa faculty member, as well as the deep immersion in Bhutanese culture, has led to incredible intercultural awareness and personal growth.

I am SO excited to watch our Bhutan program grow and see what amazing programs in other parts of the world we will develop as the years go on.

What was your favorite traveling experience?

Mari: While visiting Beijing after spending a summer teaching in Shanghai, a friend and I accidentally boarded the wrong bus to see the Great Wall of China. Instead of being dropped off at a touristy location with many English-speaking guides around, we found ourselves dropped off on a dirt road in what felt like the middle of nowhere. When we looked confused and pointed to “the Great Wall” in our guidebook, the bus driver pointed far up the mountain to what looked like a pile of rubble. And then drove away. Leaving us there without another person or other car in sight.

For lack of better options, we began hiking up the mountainside, once passing a bemused farmer who seemed to wonder what two foreigners were doing in his field. After hiking for over an hour, we reached the pile of rubble which actually turned out to be the ruins of the Great Wall and spent the afternoon exploring this amazing piece of history. I vividly remember standing on the Great Wall, looking across a rugged mountainside, feeling absolutely in awe of my experience.

With the help of a kindly man who picked us up once we’d hiked down the mountain, we made it back to Beijing with grand tales of the beauty of the unrestored Wall and the helpfulness of Chinese we met along the way. It was an experience I will never forget.