Sunrise over the ghats by the Ganges River as it runs through Varanasi. Photo by Aaron Slosberg, India Semester.

Study Abroad India

Himalayas to the Ganges River

A 3-Month College Study Abroad Program

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Duration
83 Days
Description

Trek across Ladakh, study sitar, learn from Tibetan refugees, and build Hindi language proficiency while immersing yourself in the spiritual fire of Varanasi.

Spring Dates

Feb 7 - May 1, 2018


Spring Availability

open

Fall Dates

Sep 15 - Dec 6, 2017


Fall Availability

closed

Number of Participants

12


Suggested Ages

College students

Spring Begins In

28 Weeks

Fall Begins In

8 Weeks

Land Cost

$14,055


Estimated Flight Cost

$1,995

Kolkata

Leh

Varanasi

Bodhgaya

New Delhi

Program Overview

Study modern India's struggles and progress.


Arundhati Roy writes, “there’s no such thing as an Authentic India… no one religion or language or caste or region or person or story or book that can claim to be its sole representative. There are, and can only be, vision of India.” One cannot understand India from a classroom; it’s a land of color and contrasts, too vast and diverse to summarize without all five senses engaged.

Our College Study Abroad India semester splits its time between two visions of India: Varanasi, the holy Hindu city on the Ganges River, and Ladakh, a Tibetan Buddhist region high in the Himalaya.

Varanasi, is the holiest city of Hinduism: the most auspicious place to die or be cremated. Just ten miles away in Sarnath stand Buddhist stupas where the Buddha delivered his first teachings over 2600 years ago. Students visit Sufi shrines and ancient mosques where the faithful are called to prayer. India’s greatest musicians play concerts on the banks of the Ganges each morning as we begin our simple yoga practice…

Arundhati Roy writes, “there’s no such thing as an Authentic India… no one religion or language or caste or region or person or story or book that can claim to be its sole representative. There are, and can only be, vision of India.” One cannot understand India from a classroom; it’s a land of color and contrasts, too vast and diverse to summarize without all five senses engaged.

Our College Study Abroad India semester splits its time between two visions of India: Varanasi, the holy Hindu city on the Ganges River, and Ladakh, a Tibetan Buddhist region high in the Himalaya.

Varanasi, is the holiest city of Hinduism: the most auspicious place to die or be cremated. Just ten miles away in Sarnath stand Buddhist stupas where the Buddha delivered his first teachings over 2600 years ago. Students visit Sufi shrines and ancient mosques where the faithful are called to prayer. India’s greatest musicians play concerts on the banks of the Ganges each morning as we begin our simple yoga practice at our program house just a few blocks away.

In Varanasi, study abroad students live in home-stays and meet daily at our program house for classes and discussions. We practice simple yoga in the morning, learn Hindi from local teachers, and host guest lecturers from Banaras Hindu University and the surrounding community. We study modern India’s struggles and progress with gender, religion, caste, social justice, development, and environmental issues.

In addition to time in the classroom, students on this Dragons College Study Abroad program spend time with a mentor to learn a tradition or craft: past students have studied with local artisans, Ayurvedic doctors, cooks, healers, musicians, yogis, and dancers. Students work with activists to contribute to environmental, educational, and social justice movements in the city.

We take a break from Varanasi for a week and travel to Bodhgaya, where the Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. Pilgrims from across Asia meditate, chant, and prostrate themselves before the Mahabodhi Temple and wait to catch a leaves falling from the sacred tree. We study Mahayana Buddhism for a week with a community of monks and nuns before returning to the faster pace of city life.

Depending on the season, the semester either begins or ends in Ladakh, on the banks of the Indus River. After flying into Leh at 12,000 feet, students acclimatize for a week at SECMOL, an environmental education center and activist community run by high school graduates learning English to enter college. While students connect with passionate peers from across the world, we’ll pitch in to maintain SECMOL’s off-the-grid, solar-powered facility, learn about grassroots activism in India, and study the effects of climate change on this high altitude desert.

Once acclimatized, we hike into the mountains for a ten-day trek, crossing passes at elevations up to 17,000 feet and meeting the people who make their living in the harsh high-altitude environment.

Read More Read Less Sample Itinerary

Student Profile

Students who participate on a Dragons Study Abroad Program come from all different backgrounds, universities/colleges, and areas of interest. Eligible participants should have completed at least one semester of post-secondary study, be 18 years or older, have a minimum GPA of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale), and be interested in taking part in an experiential semester abroad.  For more information please see our Frequently Asked Questions.


Costs

Students can take 12-16 credits during the semester abroad.  The total program cost varies based on the number of credits students choose to enroll in during the term. The tuition and fees listed below are inclusive of land cost and tuition costs.

Tuition and Fees

Land Cost Additional Tuition Cost Total Cost
$14,055 $3,600 (12 credits) $17,655
$14,055 $4,800 (16 credits) $18,855


Tuition and Fees Include:

  • 12-16 credits and a transcript from Dragons School of Record
  • All program-organized travel and excursions
  • Pre-departure preparation and in-country orientation
  • All accommodations and most meals
  • Supplementary lectures and special events

Note: Tuition and fees are made based on current circumstances in the host country but are subject to change.

Personal Expenses (Estimated)

Some expenses are discretionary and vary based on individual student preferences. Expenses that are not accounted for in tuition and fees may include flight costs (estimated at $1,995), personal local transportation, immunizations, academic and ISP supplies, some meals, visa, medical insurance and expenses, and other personal expenses.

Scholarships

Dragons is committed to making College Study Abroad programs financially accessible through the offering of scholarships. For more information on scholarships, please visit our Scholarships page.


Faculty

Dragons faculty possess a rich blend of extensive academic training, unique life experience, and field-based teaching skills. Whether working for local and transnational NGOs, conducting primary field research in remote communities, or founding their own organization abroad, all share one similar quality: the desire to provide students with the most complete and exceptional educational experience possible.

With a 4 to 1 student to instructor ratio, no other study abroad program approaches the level of personal attention and mentorship available on a Dragons program. Our faculty challenge you academically and physically, draw you into an unsurpassed community of curious peers, and carefully guide you through transformative experiences that enliven and inform your academic career at your home institution.

Academics

This program is currently offered during spring semesters only. On this College Study Abroad program in China, students have the opportunity to enroll in 12-16 semester credits. This program offers four college-level courses (4 credits each). In addition to work done in the classroom, Dragons’ College Study Abroad semesters are designed to provide students with the experiential opportunities to develop language competence, regional knowledge, intercultural leadership abilities, and research skills.Naropa University Logo

Dragons has partnered with Naropa University to offer four interdisciplinary courses for credit that extend from our Core Curriculum. The for-credit college courses we offer focus on building important skills, fostering a concern for global issues, expanding self-awareness and gaining an understanding of pertinent issues in each program area. Our approach is both experiential and conventional, using local resources, expert guest lecturers, excursions, pertinent readings, multi-media, and immersion to provide an intimate, well-rounded and powerful learning experience.

Course options include:

  • Regional Seminar – Life Along the Ganges River (ANTH 250; 4 credits) – This course provides students with an in-depth introduction to the cultures and traditions along the Ganges River. A focus is placed on such topics as the role of women in a Hindu & Muslim country, economic issues of the caste system, environmental sustainability, public health, issues related to education, and spiritual traditions for Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists. Substantive readings and response papers are assigned weekly to give important historical context to these lectures. Then, utilizing the experiential learning potential of India’s oldest-living city, students also visit important sites in and around Varanasi. Through these lectures, reading and writing assignments, discussions, and experiences, students gain an understanding of some of the traditions, religious practices, history, and contemporary lifestyles of the people who make the cities and villages along the Ganges River their home. In addition to these field studies and family stays, students meet with locals who conduct research, perform in the arts, or serve as religious and/or community leaders.
  • Contemplative Intercultural Development and Leadership (ANTH 211; 4 credits)  The process of understanding self in relation to others in our globalized world is essential in the 21st century. The purpose of this course is to carefully examine who we are through the experience of living, learning and engaging in an international context. Students examine global citizenship, develop, examine global citizenship, develop effective leadership skills in intercultural communication and explore the depths of their internal landscape in relationship to the outside world.
  • Independent Study Project (ISP) (ISP 325; 4 credits)  – This course offers each student the opportunity to conduct in-depth study on a subject of his or her choice. An ISP may involve either an academic focus of inquiry or learning a skill through apprenticeship. Typical ISP projects include: research on environmental issues faced in Varanasi, volunteering at a leprosy clinic, yoga and meditation, Ayurvedic medicine, or an intensive focus on the arts: jewelry making, sitar, tabla, for example.
  • Hindi Language Study (HIND 150/250/350; 4 credits)
    • HIND 150 Introduction to Hindi – This course is designed to provide a foundation in conversational Hindi for students with no previous knowledge of the language. Language proficiency is an essential aspect of the program, and daily language classes with a local instructor ensure that students are provided with the language skills needed to engage more deeply with the communities in which they are living and learning. With a principal focus on conversational Hindi and practical language skills, the language lessons presented throughout the semester include grammar, vocabulary development, and the history of the language. Students also gain a basic understanding and utility of the Hindi script (Devanagari script). Students are tested regularly, and a written and oral exam is required at mid-course and at the conclusion of the course.
    • HIND 250 Hindi II – Continuation of HIND 150: Introduction to Hindi.
    • HIND350 Hindi III – Continuation of HIND 250: Hindi II.

Click on the download button below to view course syllabi.

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Program Components

5/5
Comparative Religion

Inquire deeply into Hindu myth, philosophy and practice, Buddhist philosophy and meditation retreat, and Islam in its Indian context.

5/5
Development Studies

Investigate issues of health and education, the caste system, human rights, globalization and poverty.

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Explore topics of pilgrimage, sacred spaces and spirituality practices, as well as social inequalities. See College Accredited curriculum for details.

5/5
Home Stay

Spend six weeks in home-stays in the sacred city of Varanasi and participate in a short village home-stay in the Himalayas.

5/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

Pick a guru in Varanasi and study Sitar & Tabla, Indian cuisine, dance and vocals, women’s issues, comparative religion, stone carving or jewelry making.

4/5
Language Study

Learn to speak Hindi through intensive daily Hindi language classes and try out some Ladakhi phrases while trekking through the Himalayas.

2/5
Learning Service

Reflect on the meaning of service in the context of Indian culture and explore the meaning of reciprocity with Ladakhi youth in the north.

1/5
Rugged Travel

Travel by rickshaws, buses, jeeps and trains into India’s Himalayas and across the vast plains.

3/5
Trekking

Trek for ten days in the high Himalayan mountains of Ladakh's Zanskar Range.

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