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.