High Altitude Life Changing Experience Past Review

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 01/27/2020 to 05/26/2020 with

SIT Study Abroad: Nepal - Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a profound insight into the lived experiences of a people who I had previously only read about, or could have pointed out on a map but did not consider 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, studied a difficult and foreign language. I gained an isight 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 more engaged person as a result of my time with SIT in Nepal, and have not ceased to be grateful for my time there since I left.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? SIT provides all three meals a day, all of which are fantastic, with vegan and veggie and gluten free options. If you want to, you can go sample local restaurants, which are very affordable.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? I recommend asking your host family to teach you words and phrases, outside of the classroom for the duration of your stay. That, supplemented by the foundation of Tibetan the program gives you would suffice for communicating with people you may encounter on excursions, research trips, and time in the city.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* 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?
  • Expeditions
  • Lectures
  • Food
* What could be improved?
  • More focus on colloquial Tibetan
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had know that I would have liked to stay after the program for the summer, instead of going back home as soon as the program ended.

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.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Politics of Tibetan and Himalayan Borders

Course Department:
Instructor: Isabelle Onians
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course 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 course with Isabelle (and this SIT program) is definitely for you. While this course is topically and predominately about the geopolitics and the modern political condition of Tibet and Tibetan peoples, Isabelle uses this specific material to produce a course which manages to expand and complicate the student's conception of nationhood, citizenship and cultural identity unlike any other course I took in college. 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. We wrote regular short papers, and gave presentations to the class weekly. Participation was less mandatory than irresistible. I would consider Isabelle's teaching some of the finest I encountered in all my years as a student, and still, several years later, think about how her course shifted my thinking.
Credit Transfer Issues: No issues transferring credits