• Nepal
    • Kathmandu
    • Pokhara
Fall, Spring
Subject Areas
Anthropology Asian American Studies Asian Studies Cultural Studies History Peace Studies Political Science Social Sciences Sociology
Need-based funding, Merit-based funding, General grants/scholarships
Health & Safety

Program Details

Program Type
Direct Enrollment
Degree Level
Host Family


Starting Price
Price Details
SIT Study Abroad is committed to ensuring that international education is within reach for all students. Our Scholarship awards, ranging from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs, reflect our dedication. Applying for a scholarship is easy: simply express your interest in a scholarship when completing your admissions application and follow the provided instructions.

Learn more: https://studyabroad.sit.edu/admissions-aid/financing-your-study-abroad/tuition/
What's Included
Some Activities Airport Transfers Classes Travel Insurance
Apr 23, 2024
Mar 11, 2024
1 traveler is looking at this program

About Program

The dynamics of Tibet and the Himalaya span from ancient times to the present day. Discover the history of the region’s border tensions, religious belief systems and politics. Learn about the Tibetan Government in Exile; CIA intervention in Tibet; the Dalai Lama and his Middle Way approach; negotiations with China; and human rights in Tibet. Spend six weeks in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital and home to a significant Tibetan exile community. Study Tibetan medicine, symbolism, music, art, meditation and retreat. Explore the shamanistic features of the indigenous Tibetan religion, Bön, at an institute halfway up a mountain on the valley’s periphery.

Video and Photos

Diversity & Inclusion

Program Highlights

  • Explore Tibetan and Himalayan society, geopolitics, religion, and arts.
  • Trek the high Himalayas to meet with remote Tibetan communities.
  • Learn about traditional Tibetan civilizations, politics and Buddhist history.
  • Live with a host family in Kathmandu; learn the Tibetan language and Nepali.

Program Reviews

5.00 Rating
based on 13 reviews
  • 5 rating 100%
  • 4 rating 0%
  • 3 rating 0%
  • 2 rating 0%
  • 1 rating 0%
  • Academics 4.65
  • Support 5
  • Fun 4.95
  • Housing 4.85
  • Safety 4.95
Showing 1 - 8 of 13 reviews
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Awesome Semester

This program gives an incredible experience taking you through the history, culture, and language of the Tibet and the Himalayas. Kathmandu is a wonderful place to live, and the homestay gives safety and built in family. Courses are experiential: the only way to learn abroad. The Tibetan language course is fun and lively, but it also helps in the smaller commutes in the mountains and in India. Academically, I came home with a vast knowledge of the cultural landscape of Nepal, Tibet, and the Himalayas.

  • SO MUCH FUN (obvious but important)
  • Only a semester — I wish we could've done the full year
12 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

The best people I've ever met!

I had such an extraordinary time in Nepal and India! The people that this program brought together are some of my lifelong friends, not to mention the academics and community members that SIT brings into your orbit are extraordinary. The staff (Isabelle and Patty especially) will help you make this program into exactly what you want it to be. I came to Nepal with the intention of writing my undergraduate honors thesis and had the support and connections to make it happen during the ISP period. I highly recommend this program to anyone and everyone looking to challenge themselves in a new environment, delve into a part of history and geopolitics that is often ignored in US academics, and eat more momos than you thought was possible! I have participated in other study abroad programs in the past and I think this one was the best at creating a safe and productive environment while allowing plenty of autonomy to get the most out of traveling to a new part of the world.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
This program was full of surprises and your ISP period is a month-long opportunity to pursue any experiences you want. For me, that meant traveling through India by myself and spending a few weeks researching and writing from the beach in Goa, an old colonial settlement that also marked one of the ends of the Hippie Trail.
  • Great Food
  • Killer connections
  • Can really make the program into what you want it to be
  • Large emphasis on Tibetan
18 people found this review helpful.
High mountains of Nepal
Yes, I recommend this program

Embracing Transformation

My experience with the study abroad program in Nepal and India was nothing short of transformative. This journey was more than just an academic pursuit; it was an opportunity for profound personal growth and self-discovery. The program provided an immersive cultural experience that went beyond the confines of a traditional classroom. Living amidst local families, I was able to witness firsthand the resilience of communities navigating the challenges of preserving their ancestral traditions amidst geopolitical changes. The personal narratives of resilience and survival that I encountered painted a vivid image of the realities of life in these regions, fostering a deep connection and empathy that transcended cultural and geographical boundaries. The program also provided a unique perspective on religious identity and the impact of stereotypes and attitudes towards certain religions. This firsthand experience underscored the need for empathy and understanding in navigating cultural differences, and taught me to appreciate the nuances and richness of cultures and identities different from my own. The experience of writing my Independent Study Project, while immersed in a different cultural context, was a transformative exercise in conscious observation and introspection. This journey taught me to value the transformative power of conscious observation and introspection, and to appreciate the nuances and richness of cultures and identities other than my own. In retrospect, this journey was a lesson in embracing a holistic perspective. I learned to appreciate the human struggle against imposed boundaries and the relentless pursuit of preserving cultural identities. This journey marked a significant metamorphosis in my personal growth, deepening my understanding of cultural and individual differences, and setting the stage for lifelong learning and exploration. I would highly recommend this study abroad program to anyone seeking a transformative educational experience. The personal growth and insights gained through this program are invaluable and will undoubtedly shape your perspective and approach to life in profound ways.

  • Immersion
  • Reflexive Learning
  • The Staff and Homestay Families
41 people found this review helpful.
Yes, I recommend this program

One of the best experiences of my college career

From the food to the people, my time in Nepal left an indelible impression that caused a shift in my values, my perspective, and my hopes for the future (all of which I think is for the better). I learned much from SIT. The experiential learning they promote is a core part of their curriculum and mission; it also pushed me out of my comfort zone, allowing me to experience friendships and the simple beauty (and challenge) of life in Nepal. I can fondly recall our Tibetan language lessons, wonderful language partners, and the reliable and kind staff stationed at Yantra House, a warm and welcoming little home for students. Although I'd made trips abroad to visit family throughout my life, I also traveled extensively before SIT through research and study opportunities. I'd just completed an intensive language study program through the US Department of State that was quite rigorous and pushed me both mentally and physically. I thought myself prepared, having spent the last two months living in China with a homestay family. Needless to say, I began SIT Nepal with a bit of caution and skepticism––while I was initially excited for the chance to study a subject I'd always been interested in and live in a place I'd never been to, I had doubts about whether or not I would love this program as much as I enjoyed my last one. Instead, as I loosened up a bit, I found myself having the time of life in Kathmandu. Boudha became my home and the pearly-white stupa a steadfast reminder of which direction I should walk in if I ever got lost along the edge of the valley. Among many other things, I learned about the importance of reciprocity in any relationship or situation; the meaningful act of enjoying tea with a companion; the preciousness of conversation and exchange; and that, alone, I am capable. I received a research fellowship to return to Nepal this summer, but currently the COVID-19 issue has spiraled beyond control; hopefully, I can go back one day.

68 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Four Life Changing Months at Altitude

This program was challenging in the best sense of the word. If you are a fan of the liberal arts model of education--one that strives to challenge innate assumptions and preconceived notions of the world through critical study of complex historical and contemporary realities--this program is for you. While the program is topically and predominately about the geopolitics and the modern political condition of the Tibetan people, Isabelle Onians (the director) uses this specific material to produce a learning experience that expands and complicates one's conception of nationhood, citizenship and cultural identity. Isabelle's lectures are brilliant and reveal a deep learning and whip-sharp intellect that she gathers together and unleashes on the small classroom in surprising and inspiring ways throughout the semester. Participation was less mandatory than irresistible. I would consider Isabelle's teaching some of the finest in all my years as a student, and still, several years later, think about how her course shifted my thinking.

Additionally, I gained a profound insight into the lived experiences of a people who I had previously only read about, or could have pointed to on a map but did not know in any real or meaningful sense. I had been abroad a small amount as a teenager with my family, and though I followed international events and cared about global politics, I had never before so fully felt a witness and a part of the world not as an American, or a millennial, or a college students, or even a political activist, but as a person.

I saw what were hands down the most beautiful landscapes I've ever encountered--before and after. I ate fantastic Nepali and Tibetan food, and studied a difficult and foreign language. I gained an insight into Buddhism as a lived practice and not merely a philosophy to be studied by college students, scholars and Western-atheists. And I made friendships with my peers, my teachers, and with local people that I still hold dear to this day. This past year I went to one of my co-SIT student's weeding; I still maintain, four years after my time at SIT, a deep correspondence with my writing advisor from the program. I feel a better, wiser, more empowered and engaged person as a result of my time with SIT in Nepal, and have not ceased to be grateful for my experience there since I left.

66 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

A unique experience in an incredible part of the world

The instructors had diverse expertise and pushed me to challenge myself intellectually while providing superb support; the Tibetan language instruction was top-level, with daily opportunities to practice with local Tibetans and my homestay family; and the opportunity to conduct a month-long research project on a subject of my choosing was one the most valuable undergraduate academic experiences. I made friends for life and got to immerse myself in Tibetan and Nepali culture, learning for the first time about this fascinating part of the world. Can not recommend this program enough!

67 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Opportunity for Cultural Exchange

I came in fairly ignorant of Tibetan culture and history and left with not only a greater understanding of that, but also with friendships that I hope will last long after the 4 months of the program. This was the best decision I made in college. It is impossible to know what my experience would have been like in other programs, but in speaking to friends who went elsewhere I can say that the experience I had in Nepal was unique. It was challenging and the greatest learning experience of my life.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
I was unfamiliar with the bulk of the food I tried in Nepal. The quasi-national meal is Dal Bhat but in the Tibetan households we had a lot of Thukpa (a noodle soup) and an unexpected amount of yak meat, which is rather strong and takes some time to get used to. The most surprising thing the whole trip though was probably yak tongue and lung.
65 people found this review helpful.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

A Life-Altering Experience

The SIT Study Abroad Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples program was much more impactful on my life than I thought it would be.

Of utmost importance in this was the way the academic staff handled the course topics. The SIT academic staff created a curriculum emphasizing the true complexity of Tibetan and Himalayan socio-cultural and religious politics. This is not an easy task and indeed required the guidance of individuals who have spent their lives living and specializing in the region. Classes were overseen by experts who made sure to indicate the ambiguities of sovereignty, territory, and cultures across borders. This was all done with great sensitivity and nuance in a way that inspired me to reconsider not only what I understood about the region, but what I considered myself to know about notions of authenticity, place, space, nation-states, and knowledge held as a foreigner. In short, this course was intellectually demanding because it did not provide clear answers. Clear answers in many instances would not have captured intricacies at play. Some students felt uncomfortable with these tactical semi-conclusions, but I found it personally groundbreaking.

The course topic itself was extremely moving and was presented as a human issue. Tibetans were key in leading aspects of the program, sharing their experiences and grounding the texts in reality. Having the chance to work with Tibetans and Himalayn peoples in this capacity was a necessary component and was prioritized by the program. This is not an emotionally easy topic to tackle. The manner in which occupation and displacement were addressed did not overlook the intensity of the Tibetan situation, nor shy away from its controversial nature, while remaining sensitive to the people concerned.

For me personally, the opportunity to conduct field research was invaluable. On one occasion, I conducted a week-long fieldwork in the Tsum Valley regarding local law. On another, I conducted a month-long independent study on Tibetan refugees in Nepal while in Kathmandu. Both of these experiences were completely life-altering. Through them, I found my calling as a researcher of issues surrounding migration and displacement. Having the freedom to be out in the community, connected with translators, talking directly with Tibetans and Himalayan peoples about their experiences and opinions regarding current politics, changed the course of my life. I cannot stress enough how powerful these experiences were. I have the program to thank for this because it prioritized fieldwork and supported my pursuit of specific interests.

The living situation was also well done. With my host family, I felt safe, welcomed, included, and challenged. They did not speak much English, so I had to use the Tibetan I learned in class. This was certainly difficult but allowed me to develop a relationship with them in another language. I was living in a home with Tibetan refugees. This drove the truth of the situation home. It made it all real in a tangible way. I never had any problems with my host family and in fact went to visit 5 years later, finding we were able to reconnect easily.

The long-term support of the SIT faculty has also been helpful. I have been able to stay in touch with faculty, seek council, and facilitate valuable connections. Their enthusiasm is evident. They care about their students and want to help.

Nepal is itself an intense country with incredible diversity, cultural significance, poverty, and political intrigue. Living there is no small undertaking. Understanding it is on the verge of impossible. But going there and seeing for yourself, if you are open to enduring what it has to offer, can forever shift your point of view. All I can recommend really is to jump in, be patient, pay attention, and be satisfied with what can be learned.

In conclusion, this program exceeded all expectations. It was a turning point in my life as a researcher. It inspired and supported my interests. It was challenging yet worked with me when I struggled. I would choose this program again and again.

What would you improve about this program?
Some students were disappointed or surprised by aspects of the program. For several, there was too much emphasis on learning the Tibetan language. They did not find it useful for navigating the Nepali context. Or they found it simply too difficult and mentally opted out. While I empathize with their concerns, I personally found it important given the focus of the curriculum. It was certainly hard, however, and I did not come away feeling my grasp of the language was profound.
68 people found this review helpful.

Questions & Answers