I took this trip (2.5 month semester program) between graduating high school and starting college to explore and discover a different way of life away from the American standard. What I did not realize about this trip is that it provided me a place and space (with our fabulous group and instructors) to dive into the essence of myself and rediscover the passions I'd lost in the busyness of school. I was always slightly homesick for most of the trip but once I came home I experienced reverse culture shock which was fascinating to me. I was able to see my own family life, culture, and old habits in a new light. I look back on my trip very fondly, even if it was challenging at times. The instructor team was absolutely stacked. You could tell that this wasn't just a job for them but a passion and a lifestyle. This was easily seen in their relationships with students and their knowledge and dedication to their environment and work. From my impression the Where There Be Dragons program was very well connected and close with communities in which we stayed or explored in. There seemed to be authentic relationships between our instructors, the overall program, and locals. We had extensive briefing on Nepali culture, customs, and language as a group before we went out in the open. We also had classes whilst in our city homestay that were taught by guest speakers, the instructor team, our even fellow peers that ranged from gentrification, food privilege, Honey hunting in Nepal, Learning Service (voluntourism), What Happens to Our trash, Compost, etc.. Our group of 13 students and 3 instructors still keep in touch over a WhatsApp group chat sharing memories from the trip.
Words of advice:
-Journal everyday, even little things. It is so worth it and will be so fun to share with loved ones back home
-Bring a lot of hiking socks (5-8 pairs)
-don't get wrapped up in checking your personal email--it definitely makes you more homesick
-bring the vitamins they recommend and just take them everyday as a precaution
-leave behind pre conceived notions of yourself and "who you are". Challenge your beliefs!
-bring a big travel duffel to store your pack in (one kid's backpack broke through TSA)
-not a racially diverse group of students
-the food was toooooooo good but a tad hard on my tummy with all the rice (big bloat)