College Study Abroad Nepal, 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 We arrive in Kathmandu and then begin our journey in Nepal with an orientation retreat in the medieval town of Bhaktapur, an ancient Newari kingdom on the edge of the Kathmandu valley. In a peaceful, inspiring setting, 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 From Bhaktapur, we embark on our first trek along the rim of the Kathmandu Valley. We hike through rural villages where we encounter a host of different ethnic communities and witness the different rhythm of agrarian life. We continue our introduction to language study, as well as spend time developing backcountry skills.
Weeks 3-7 We now make our way to the historic city of Patan, the third largest in Nepal and situated in the south-central part of the Kathmandu Valley. Here we settle into our extended homestay with local host families in this urban environment.
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 our extended homestays, we also have the opportunity to organize group explorations outside of the valley, including a possible visit to Dhulikhel and/or the Namo Buddha Meditation and Education Center at the Trangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery to learn about Tibetan Buddhism. In Namo Buddha, instruction is given by the resident Kenpo on the basic tenets of Buddhism, as well as on various meditation techniques. Also, we may have the chance to visit Boudha (or Boudhanath) northeaster of central Kathmandu which is home to a Tibetan Buddhist Community and one of the world’s largest stupas.
Weeks 8-11 Bidding farewell to our homestay families, we embark on our larger trek into the Himalayas, where will cross high mountain passes, explore villages and Nepali culture along the way, stay in tents, learn basic expedition skills. We then travel to our rural homestay village near Pokhara, Nepal’s second largest city. During this shorter homestay, we participate in everyday rural life, from early morning milking of buffaloes, harvesting fields and preparing dinner with our host families. Alternatively, we might find ourselves travelling to the Terai region in southern Nepal. In the lowlands, we visit Chitwan National Park, which is well-known for its forests, grasslands, and biodiversity. In addition, we may visit an ashram in a secluded part of the Terai region to engage in community work and meditation.
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 Nepal, 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 the eco-village of Bandipur, where we explore one of Nepal’s largest caves and enjoy beautiful mountain views. 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 Kathmandu, we will have a chance to say our goodbyes to friends and homestay families, before beginning our journey home.