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Chinese Language Lessons in Kunming. Photo by Eric Jenkins-Sahlin, instructor.
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Experience an Independent Study Project Abroad

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Kimberly Manning

During gap year and travel abroad programs, students are paired with local mentors to dive into an artistry, craft, tradition, or issue prevalent in the region. These independent study projects (ISPs) are the perfect opportunity for students to gain a deeper understanding of a culture and community. 

From the exploration of socio-political issues to learning traditional dance and music, independent study projects offer a truly enriching experience. While not a school project, ISPs are intended for students to pursue their own passions and interests while studying abroad.

Summer Travel Abroad Nepal Where There Be Dragons

A student with her Independent Study Project Mentor in Nepal. Photo by Susie Rinehart, Former Director.

Study Abroad and Gap Year Independent Study Project Options

Learn traditional crafts from local artisans

Our independent study projects allow students to learn about the traditional artistries and craft making from those active in the community today. Each program location offers a rich cultural experience truly unique and special to that region. 

Learn traditional crafts such as bamboo weaving, embroidery, and traditional silk dying in Laos’ cultural hub, Luang Prabang. While in South America, students can learn traditional weaving, dancing, and music as well as carpentry, sustainable construction, and silversmithing. Students can also receive mentorship to learn stone carving, mask making, and jewelry making while in Nepal. Music and dancing are also common areas of independent study. 

Discover traditional cooking and medicine

From Morocco to Bhutan, traditional cooking studies offer a unique perspective into the history and culture of a region. Students are able to gain experience and mentorship to cook traditional cuisine and learn about ancient medicines and remedies. Experience the power of medicinal plants and how sustainable agriculture is supporting communities, as well as traditional agricultural practices. 

A student learning weaving from an Independent Study Mentor in Bolivia.

Dive into comparative studies on social issues

Social issues, politics, and ecology can be studied as a part of an independent study project. Learn about how global and local issues impact the region, including human migration, public health, education, water rights, gender equality, and more. You can also learn how tourism is impacting traditional and rural communities and beyond. These mentored studies can be eye-opening for many, offering a brand new perspective on global problems and solutions. 

Experience environmental issues in directly impacted areas

Students dig into the complex issues and politics that relate to environmental issues, land use, and the shift in resources. They gain context to the impact of globalization, capitalism, and colonization. During studies amid natural resources, students document issues and observances to comprehend the full scope of environmental conditions and changes. Independent study programs dive into study of local flora and fauna, conservation and how sustainable agriculture and sustainable construction are being used to adapt to the changing climate.

Go on a fully independent study experience

Where There Be Dragons also offers independent travel gap year programs for anyone who has completed a group travel program and feels the urge to travel solo. The Independent Spring Experience provides opportunities for students to co-create an educational and meaningful experience with on-site mentors. 

Be immersed in the community and traditions of locations such as Guatemala, Bolivia, Senegal, Nepal, China, and Indonesia. Independent study programs provide helpful resources for students to confidently travel on their own.

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