Learning and creating memories at the same time July 10, 2023

By (Physics, Davidson College) - abroad from 02/07/2023 to 05/22/2023 with

SIT Study Abroad: Nepal - Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
On an academic level, I gained a deeper understanding of how Nepal fits into the broader Asian and global geopolitical context, as well as the forces that shape this. I also gained conversational proficiency in the Tibetan language. On a personal level, I made some unforgettable memories traveling and experiencing a beautiful culture, and did this with an amazing set of friends. It was absolutely worthwhile.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

It was an incredible program, and I benefited greatly from SIT's experiential approach, where a lot of the learning happened outside the confines of the classroom through active discussion and research with community members. I personally thought the program provided a great mix of academic rigor balanced with ample opportunity and time to explore the new culture, and was particularly happy to learn and practice the Tibetan language, a chance I wouldn't otherwise have.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration at SIT Nepal (Yantra House) is patient and dedicated to student success. They coordinated homestays very well, helped plan our independent study period, and were always available to meet and help with anything we needed, from academics to personal problems.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I loved my homestay and continue to sporadically remain in contact with them. The program allows students to get quite close with their homestays, and I had the privilege of spending Tibetan New Year with them, for example. The housing itself was modest but perfect for my needs.

* Food:

My host mother's cooking was amazing and even though I am a vegetarian, I had no trouble finding great food in restaurants in Nepal. Some of my peers had issues with food poisoning while adjusting to the new cuisine, however.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt relatively integrated with the host culture thanks to my host parents and a few local friends I'd made. That said, I did still spend a large majority of free time with my friends from the program (with whom I became very close). The program had multiple excursions, which allowed us to delve into different aspects and communities of Tibetan and Himalayan culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I thought the healthcare system was great; SIT has a partnership with CIWEC hospital in Kathmandu under the iSOS insurance scheme, and they were able to help me address a skin issue very effectively. Peers who had problems with food poisoning also went to CIWEC hospital, and in general they were satisfied.

* Safety:

Although this is my own opinion as a male-presenting individual, I thought Kathmandu (and Nepal in general) was quite safe overall, as long as normal city precautions were taken, such as not going to unfamiliar places at night alone. SIT also does a good job of briefing new students about safety-related incidents that may arise, and how to deal with them.

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

I am still amazed by the incredible friendships I created, the memories I made, and the learnings I had, and genuinely believe that this was the best semester of my college experience.


* 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)

Very easily, accounting for the fact that meals and homestay costs are paid for beforehand. I could go to cafes with friends almost everyday and still spend less than $10 per week.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~$10 for personal costs.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? There is a fine line between making new memories and overspending; I'd recommend spending as much as is necessary to make the most of your time abroad.


* 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

Relatively frequently, but not too much outside of the language class context. My homestay family did not speak English well, however, so I ended up practicing my Tibetan everyday with them (and SIT does encourage trying to use Tibetan when at homestays).

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
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? N/A
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? Try to use the language with your homestay as much as possible! And make the most out of language partner sessions at the SIT house.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
  • Host Family
  • Hotel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • New friends
  • Travels
  • Language immersion
* What could be improved?
  • Independent period stipend
  • Program length could be made longer
  • More excursions
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how many different perspectives we'd be exposed to pertaining to Nepal's geopolitics, since I'd have done a bit more reading / research to really immerse myself before coming to the program.

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'