Where There Be Dragons

Program Reviews

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Anna
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Princeton Bridge Year Bolivia

My gap year in Bolivia opened my mind up to different ways of being and living in this world. I met so many wonderful people and was exposed to many new things. While my time there was sometimes challenging, it allowed me to step out of my comfort zone. The lessons I learned about myself and my values still shape who I am today. I also had the opportunity to learn more about Bolivian history and culture as well as reflect on United States history and culture, especially as it relates to South America.

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Lily
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Revealing of myself and of the world

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)

Cons:
-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)

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Theo
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing Trip to Nepal with Dragons

The Where There Be Dragons trip to Nepal is incredible. The instructors were highly qualified, adaptive, and most importantly, knowledgeable and passionate about Nepali culture. They were able to share once in a lifetime experiences with us through their extensive knowledge of Nepal and vast network of connections throughout the area. The other participants on the trip were very kind, but also gritty and ready to take on challenges. The trip attracted a very diverse and interesting group of people that I am so grateful to have shared this experience with. There were some challenges on the trip related to living conditions and food, but all the participants were prepared and the instructors supported us through any hardship. Overall, it was a truly a positively life changing experience.

Pros
  • Very experienced guides that were able to share very special parts of the country with us
  • The trip attracted very cool and nice people
  • Really able to experience authentic parts of Nepali culture
Cons
  • Low variety in diet
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Aria
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

An Amazing Dragons Adventure

This experience was one of the most unique experiences I've ever had. I had such an amazing time that I dont even think that if I went back, it would be the same. Regardless of which program suits you, you will, no doubt, receive amazing instructors and meet new people that you wont forget for the rest of you life. And where ever you choose to go, WTBD will make sure that you get the most unique experiences that place has to offer. On these programs, you get to look back into the history and understand why the ground you're standing on is the way it is today. When I went to MachuPicchu, I learned that this mountain we call "Big Mountain" in the local language, doesnt actually have a name. I highly recommend going on a program with WTBD, it will be an experience of a lifetime.

Pros
  • Community
  • Self Exploration
  • Food
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Mariner
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience!

My experience in Bolivia was amazing and completely changed my life. I met some of the most incredible people and learned so much about the bolivian culture from the homestays and getting the opportunity to be fully immersed in their traditions. I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone who seeks an adventure but also a learning experience. I would especially recommend this trip to anyone who wants to be pushed outside their comfort zone and explore different aspects of the world that might aid them in their personal growth.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The most nerve-racking moment for me was the trek and the physical intensity of it all. There were definitely moments where I was exhausted and scared but the people around me were so supportive and the view was captivating that I knew I had and could push through. I completed the trek feeling so proud but also loved, the whole group completed this challenge together despite the fear and nerves around it.
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Julia
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Experience in my Life

I decided to take a gap year after graduation. It has been a dream of mine to travel the world meaningfully. I did the summer program, and this was the perfect first step for me! It got me out of my comfort zone, find my chains of expectations and break them, and allowed me to learn more about myself than I had for most of my life. I got to see amazing views, and meet amazing people, while doing the things that I love. I would 100% recommend this organization for those who have a heart for adventure!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Getting caught up in a storm over storm's pass. We pitched out tents waited it out.
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Jenny
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible cultural immersion experience

The Where There Be Dragons summer program in Senegal was the opportunity of a lifetime to really experience another culture with no filters. Students were really allowed to interact and BE in the culture, rather than just looking at it or learning about it from afar. I'll never forget sitting on a mat under the stars with my homestay family, learning simple words in Pulaar, eating grilled corn, looking at a sky full of thousands of stars, and the last evening with them when we danced late into the night under the full moon.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Open your heart and your eyes to a new experience. Forget your expectations and stereotypes about Africa. Be prepared to experience in incredible, welcoming generosity from total strangers. Get ready to have your world opened up, to learn things you didn't know you had to learn, to change your mind about yourself and the world.
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Ellen
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

A Self-affirming experience

I decided to spend a semester of my gap year with Dragons because I wanted to challenge myself. It certainly was a challenge, but it was so worth it.
Varanasi is a beautiful, colorful city, unlike any place I had ever seen before. There is so much to explore. I loved sharing meals with my homestay family.
After a fast-paced six weeks in bustling Varanasi, Ladakh offered me much-needed peace and space to reflect. I hope to one day return to the Himalayas.
In India, I encountered for the first time various physical and mental limitations, and worked through the difficult process of figuring out which of those limitations I need to accept and which ones need to be challenged. I made incredible bonds with people I never would have met otherwise. I learned that I am capable of so much more than I thought possible.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Do as much as you can. Go out of your comfort zone and take advantage of every opportunity that interests you. Talk to locals - and listen - and form relationships with them. I spent a large portion of my program being really afraid, but I got home and regretted not pushing myself to do more. Be safe, of course, and take care of your physical and emotional health, but pursue the things that excite you. You can rest when you get home.
Courtney
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Ditto Natalie....life changing

My experience with Dragons played an integral role in defining my values and determining the person I am today. The Dragons community is also one of the best I've ever been a part of. There were of course ups and down, but what I was exposed to and learned about myself and the world have changed the way I see everything since. Being part of a small traveling community of ten students and three instructors was also perhaps the most beautiful thing I've ever been a part of. Not only did the programming push and challenge me, but so did my peers. Every semester is a bit different, so I can't speak to specifics, but certain conversations with locals I'm sure to remember for a long while. Our theme was "Resistir es Bella," To Resist is Beautiful. The program did a great job balancing fun + goofiness with intense conversations about the reality of injustice in our world. The program turned my worldview upside down and inside out, and I am absolutely better because of it, as well as more at peace with my place in it, and more sure of who I want to be.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Keep an open mind, and prepare to think deeply. While it may seem counterintuitive, it's not about you. Your learning and growth will happen as you put your own comfort and beliefs aside and let the experience unfold. It's three whole months--not every moment will feel formative. That's okay.
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Ned
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Connections and Landscapes

All in all, a semester spent with Dragons in South America is filled with amazing hiking, fun homestays, and all sorts of eye-opening new experiences. The strong connections Dragons has with local communities, organizations, and guides provides for experiences that you otherwise could never obtain on your own. On the Andes and Amazon Gap Year Semester, you get a little bit of everything--language instruction, backpacking, homestays, work with indigenous communities, and lots more--which I think is an incredible pro and my favorite aspect of the program, but could rule out a participant who is searching for one central focus. For example, immersion and instruction in Spanish undoubtedly improved my Spanish speaking abilities, but if you're looking for a program with a very heavy focus on language instruction, I wouldn't necessarily say this program has that central focus you might be looking for. Regardless, traveling with a group of other students and amazing instructors is an experience that I will never forget and one that I likely won't ever have again. In looking back on my semester, I am continually amazed at how each day brought on a new challenge, perspective, and experience, which led to an expanded worldview and yearning to experience more. That's not to say that there weren't a few hardships and rough patches along the way, but dealing with those challenges and growing as a group were part of the amazing experience that is a Dragons semester. Ultimately, I continue to look back fondly on my semester with Dragons, and I aspire to seize each day as much as we did when traveling through the Andes and Amazon!

What would you improve about this program?
One thing that I would maybe improve upon is clearer communication in terms of plans for the semester at the beginning of the semester. I think my semester may have been unique because it was Dragons' first time doing homestays in Urubamba, Peru for the Andes and Amazon Gap Year Semester (which could have accounted for some uncertainties at the beginning of the semester), but there were a couple times where I felt as our plan was slightly too loose. For example, I thought we were going to be doing our long homestay in Cochabamba, Bolivia when gearing up for the trip until hearing directly from my instructors. That said, my time in Urubamba actually ended up being one of my favorite parts of the trip and any kind of plan or itinerary has to be loose when considering international travel. Additionally, I really enjoyed being able to tailor our itinerary and plans to our group's interests.