College Study Abroad India, Sample Itinerary

This is a sample itinerary. No two Dragons programs are the same. Every itinerary considers the unique strengths of the instructor team and interests of the student group.
Week 1 Our semester begins in the bustling metropolis of Delhi, India’s capital and epicenter of Mughal and colonial culture. After purchasing culturally-appropriate Indian clothing in Karol Bagh (market) and sampling South Indian culinary delights, we board an early morning plane to Ladakh—otherwise known as Little Tibet—the far southwestern corner of the plateau and convergence point of Tibet, India and Central Asia. Upon arriving in Ladakh, we begin our orientation in the village of Phyang, where we acclimatize to the 11,000ft elevation of Ladakh. We engage in workshops on group dynamics and intercultural communication, set goals and expectations for the semester and introduce the curriculum for our for-credit courses. We also begin to formulate plans for our Independent Study Projects (ISPs) and start our language study with some basic survival lessons.
Week 2 We spend a day or two in Leh, the capital of Ladakh. Ladakh is only now experiencing the rapid changes that the rest of India has become accustomed to in recent decades. In Leh, we are exposed to the contrasting views and influential factors at the center of the debate between development and cultural preservation on the roof of the world.
Upon leaving Leh, we make or way into the mountainous hinterlands where the fragile, symbiotic relationship between humans and the harsh natural environment cannot be overstated. We are guided through the natural wonderlands of Hemis National Park or the Markha Valley. Traversing rock valleys that seem like splintered bones torn from the depths of the earth, we trek amidst cliffs, dry stream beds and the remote outposts of the Trans-Himalaya. Our trek takes us to some of the most desolate regions of the high Himalaya, and present us with opportunities to challenge our minds and our bodies between the untouched peaks and meandering passes of Little Tibet. Ladakh symbolizes the world’s most unforgiving environs, but, paradoxically, we find it to house a staggering array of life: fragile cultures, ancient spiritual traditions and critically endangered fauna. Throughout our time in Ladakh, we also continue our introduction to language study.
*Note that during fall semester, students typically visit Ladakh early in the semester whereas spring students will generally visit Ladakh later in the semester as a result of weather conditions.
Weeks 3-7 After returning to Delhi, we begin our travels to the heart of the semester, Jaipur, the famed Pink City of Rajasthan. We settle into our extended homestay with local host families. As we begin our time in Jaipur, we may find ourselves exploring the Amer Fort at dawn, taking in a cricket match or squeezing ourselves through a bustling maze of markets and chai wallahs on an impromptu scavenger hunt.
Our weeks in this community are defined by intensive language study and diving into our intercultural communication course. As with all academic courses, these are taught in intensive blocks and the language and intercultural communication course take place over the course of five weeks. As we dig into the academics of the program, we also immerse ourselves in daily routines and customs with our families during our five-week homestay.
While in Jaipur, we have the opportunity to organize group explorations outside of the city, including possible visits to the deserts of Rajasthan, to Ajmer where we can visit the temples and shrines the city is known for, or to the sandy outpost of Jaisalmer. Another option might be travels to Udaipur, known as the “City of Lakes”, where we explore the narrow lanes of the old city and gain a nuanced understanding of the city’s complex social dynamics. These experiences outside of our homestay community are also directly tied into the academic courses and provide additional opportunities to practice language and explore intercultural communication theories and best-practices.
Weeks 8-11 Bidding farewell to our homestay families, we travel north for several days. Following the Beas River as it winds its way through the forested Kangra Valley, we visit monasteries, sacred sites, and refugee communities until reaching McLeod Ganj. Home to the Tibetan Government in Exile as well as His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, McLeod Ganj (6,831 ft) is a dynamic, fascinating town perched upon a ridge above the city of Dharamsala. With its activists, religious scholars, Buddhist masters, and traditional artists, McLeod Ganj is the center of Tibetan refugee culture in India. During our stay, we live with Tibetan families, meet inspiring members of the refugee community—from aid workers to former political prisoners to poets to painters—and have the opportunity to work with local organizations. Alternatively, we might find ourselves exploring the Kumaon and the Garhwal regions of the Himalaya to engage in additional wilderness exploration and to visit to source of the Ganges River.
Throughout these several weeks– whether while travelling or in our second homestay - we focus on our Regional Seminar coursework and also begin instruction and planning for our ISPs. The Regional Seminar typically takes place over three weeks and the ISP course has three weeks of instruction and three weeks of intensive experiential work
Weeks 12-14 This is the phase of the program where all of the skills we have been developing are put to the test. During this two-week independent expedition period to an individually selected location in India, we work with our instructors to propose a plan to go deeper with our ISP topic. The goals of this phase are two-fold – to give students adequate time to fully immerse themselves in their ISP topic and to challenge themselves to do so in a truly independent manner. After the two-week period of independent study, we come back together to write our ISP paper and present our experiences to our peers.
Week 15 Closing out our time together, we head to Sonapani Himalayan village in the state of Uttarakhand, about 6 hours north of Delhi. Here, we reflect on our journey, celebrate our time together, reflect on the totality of our experience, and begin to discuss how to integrate the lessons learned into our lives back home. We then return to Delhi and have one final day to tie up loose ends and bid farewell to the vastness of India.