Naropa University

Program Reviews

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Remi
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.
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Ana Caroline
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.
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Simona
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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:
https://www.gilmanscholarship.org/

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)!
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Elaysia
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

Shanti
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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.

Isabel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This program was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I chose to travel to India and Peru during my time at LeapNow and had the opportunity to explore new countries while having an incredible system of support and guidance that helped me navigate challenges and encouraged me to face my fears and difficulties without ever feeling alone.
While in India on group travel, I got take language classes in the foothills of the Himalayas, spend time with a wonderful homestay family in Varanasi, help build houses in the South Indian tropics, and far, far more than I could ever say in a simple review.
In Peru on my solo internship I chose to volunteer with the Sisters of Charity of Mother Theresa in a home for the dying, disabled, abandoned, and learned about caretaking and what it takes to live and travel independently.
Within the program I learned communication and problem solving skills, conflict resolution, cultural and social justice education, emotional literacy, group and solo travel skills, how to understand and maintain my own integrity, how hold myself accountable, how to create a healthy relationship with my own body, and how to create healthy, generative relationships with the people around me.
I use what I was taught in LeapNow virtually every day and will never be able to truly express my gratitude for this year of my life and all I learned from it.

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Alexa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

LEAPNOW was everything I had ever imagined and more. I didn't know what to expect coming into it but I was never disappointed. My travels through central America were eye-opening and varied. From scuba diving in Roatan, Hunduras to trekking through the Guatemalan Mountains. Traveling in a small group creates bonds that last beyond the end of the program. As I write this I am sitting with two of my friends. The program helped me move into adulthood with confidence and excitement. Language is heavily emphasized and we had the rare opportunity of spending 4 weeks immersed in Spanish Schools. The two schools we spent time at were incredible and I came away speaking conversational Spanish. LeapNow is a place that truly becomes a second home, and both the time abroad and the time on campus captivated me. Prepare for incredible home cooked meals an wise teachers to guide you on your journey. I am so thankful that I chose this program.

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Alex
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Hello Everyone!
It's strange to think that a year ago I was in your position, furiously researching study abroad programs. I remember how overwhelming it was and how I didn't believe I would ever find the right one. Then by a chance of fate a family friend recommended Leapnow to me. Participating in this program was the best decision I have ever made. I was fortunate enough to travel through Nepal and Northern India during my group travel where we were exposed to different cultures in a way I have not witnessed in any other program. We lived and worked among the people, learning their language and customs.

Then coming back to the US Leapnow helped moderate the transition and provided a safe container to re-acclimate to society before going home. The retreats have given me tools I feel will be valuable for the rest of my life such as communication, leadership, emotional literacy and facing myself. I have also never before bonded to a group of individuals like I did my group. We are a family.

I would recommend this program to all students going through transition who want to really learn about themselves and the world we live in. It is not for the faint of heart, but I believe everyone has the capability to find true passion and potential through this incredible process.

Elianor
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This program changed my life. I was deciding between going to college and participating in this program and I am so grateful I chose this program. After years of sitting in classrooms and learning about history, math, and English, it was so refreshing and taught me so much to learn about myself and the world. I traveled to Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras. I went to these countries with no knowledge of the Spanish language and came out of it having conversations with locals. This program does so much more than just filter you from country to country. I was able to really dive deeply into the cultures of each place we visited and really get to know some amazing cities and people. I cannot recommend this program to people enough. One of my favorite memories is sitting under the night sky in Guatemala, watching a comet shower and the volcano Fuego erupting in the far distance.

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Leah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I completed the LEAPYEAR program four years ago, and I can still feel the positive impact the experience has on my life every day. Upon graduating High School I felt lost and aside from travelling and exploring during my gap year, I wanted a chance to emotionally develop, get to know myself better and clarify what I want in life. LEAPYEAR delivered as advertised and was as much an inner as exploration as it was an outward exploration. I spent six months traveling in Nepal, India, Nicaragua and Costa Rica gaining new experiences, skills, and perspective about myself and the world. LEAPYEAR gave me the support I needed to learn how to confidently and competently travel and navigate a foreign place where I don’t know the language or the culture by myself. These lessons carried over to other areas of my life and have been serving me ever since. The four retreats helped me to process and integrate my experiences traveling, as well as dive deeper into my inner exploration and develop emotional intelligence. I feel like I got a head start on becoming my adult self which has served me throughout university and especially now that I am transitioning from college life to what’s next. I am forever grateful for my LEAPYEAR experience and the gifts that keep on giving.

What would you improve about this program?
You truly get out of this program what you put in. This is not necessarily something they should improve, however it is important to keep in mind when choosing a program that you must be committed and willing to fully participate to have a transformative LEAPYEAR experience.