The most exotic, adventurous, and surreal experience I've ever had in my life. Past Review

By (Neuroscience and Behavior, Barnard College) - abroad from 05/21/2014 to 06/30/2014 with

Emory University: Dharamsala - Tibet Mind-Body Experience, Summer Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I became a Himalayan mountain hiker, very much a novice in the Tibetan language, a curiously driven intellectual and passionately broad-minded globe trotter, a cultural and spiritual Tibetan Buddhist enthusiast. I have seen and done things many people will never ever get a chance to do, ever, in their life. My study abroad program holds a VERY special place in my heart, and I will make it my effort to travel through Dharamsala again and travel down to south India to teach Tibetan monks english grammar and spoken english again in my life<-- in fact I think of doing that at some point after I graduate college! Teaching English to 30 some eager Tibetan Buddhist monks was an invaluable and sentimental experience that I will never forget.

Review Photos

Emory University: Dharamsala - Tibet Mind-Body Experience, Summer Program Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

A LOT of reading each night, but very manageable. The readings included those on research and medical findings in both western and Tibetan literature, cultural Tibetan history, and novels on meditation and mindfulness.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The onsite administration was relatively impromptu, but worked out EXTREMELY well because of the small group size (20 students) and close connections our director had with the ENTIRE Tibetan community in India. Geshe Lobsang was a active facilitator and efficient coordinator. He had a very supportive team of TA's, assistant administrators (who were also monks), and friends in the community who enabled us to experience tremendously cultural and exclusive field trips.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Very modest, but all that I could have ever needed. Showers, bathrooms, beds, and closets were all sufficient for 6 weeks of living (and more if need be!). The living conditions taught you that simplicity was best and underscored the sentiment that simplicity often leads to much more pure and enduring happiness.

* Food:

Yummy Tibetan and Indian food! The Tibetans that cooked for us at our homesite was great. Plenty of food and I never went hungry. After traveling into the smaller cities off campus, I learned how much I also loved authentic Indian food. The only caution though, (rather BIG one at that), is that you had to be EXTREMELY careful not to eat ANY fruits and veggies that could not and were not pealed. Basically you were safe to eat only bananas, oranges, and melons, unless you knew that the place you were eating at washes their food with bottled water. NO DRINKING OF TAP WATER ONLY BOTTLED WATER. HUGE CAUTION.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Amazingly vibrant and historical culture in both Dharamsala and Mundgod, India. We were absolutely adopted and integrated into the Tibetan monastic community. We lived with three thousand Buddhist monks and I have never felt so serene in my life, in terms of both lifestyle and environment. I have never witnessed such unparalleled hospitality and generosity than as I did on this program. To be greeted and given gifts by the Abbot of a 3000 monk monastery in front of the entire body, was beyond any privilege I expected to receive on this study abroad.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had Delhi Belly for 3 days while in South India towards the end of my study abroad. Travelers diarrhea is quite common in India due to the poor sanitary conditions. But I was taken to a clinic immediately and given antibiotics the first day of illness. The doctor was western trained and did not speak much English. He didn't really perform much of a consultation or ask me the sort of medical questions that made me feel secure and comfortable about my course of treatment. It was more of a generic, "you have the symptoms of Delhi Belly, here take these antibiotics to try and clear it up, because it's common and I see it often." Although I felt a little trepidatious and insecure about what I had to do, I was indeed cured within three days of the onset of symptoms. Emory's international health alert system was fantastic. We received emails throughout the whole study abroad about any health of violence crises that erupted throughout the country. Emory made us well aware of any potentially dangerous conditions.

* Safety:

I would never ever walk around as a girl alone, ever. Not even if I had another girl with me. Even in a group of 5 girls, I didn't feel comfortable walking along a local street. You needed a man with you to walk around in town at all times. Not an option otherwise. Tibetan community was GREAT, very kind and patient. Indian villages like Hubli in south India.....not great. Stay in groups, use your street smarts you're fine though. You learn as you act aware.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

EASY! 1 US $ = approx. 60 rupees. I have plenty of money to eat, to travel, and to by gifts.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? probably $30
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Budget every single day of your trip. Set a limit on how much you want to spend on food, travel, and gifts at the beginning of the trip, and try to stick to that throughout the program.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Meditating with multiphonic chanting, Tibetan Buddhist monks
  • Hiking into the Himalayas
  • Field trips to cultural exile sites
* What could be improved?
  • Timing and scheduling of field trips
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew that the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine required two shots (spaced 28 days apart) before departure on the program. It's 115 degrees in India. Don't bring jeans or heavy clothes.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.