I just had my pre-trip orientation, there are piles of clothes and notebooks on my floor next to my frame pack, and I have a week to go before I head off to Nepal. The orientation consisted of the director of the program I am going through (Global Apprenticeship) explaining to me a bit about the culture in Nepal, customary dos and don’ts, and a bit about Nepal’s recent history as it pertains to the organization that I am going to be volunteering for. More on that later.
It was really quite exciting to get all the last questions I had answered, and to learn a bit more about where I am going to be in a week, especially since, up to this point, I have had no idea of what to expect. I still am not really sure of what to expect, but at least I know a bit more about what customs I should be looking out for so I don’t (completely) embarrass myself.
My flight there is going to take nearly two days, with layovers in both Chicago and Abu Dhabi before I finally reach Kathmandu thirty-six hours later. I’ve done long flights and long layovers before, but I am quite sure this takes the cake for the longest.
I’ve never been to Asia (besides going to Israel once with Birthright, but I don’t think that really counts), so everything here is going to be completely new to me. I have been to slums while traveling in Africa with my family, but never to ones in Asia. I have eaten my fair share of all sorts of Asian food, but usually that comes from the cheap Chinese or Indian places near school.
On top of all this, I don’t know the language. I know that, in Nepal, a good deal of people speak English, especially those in my generation, so it shouldn’t be too hard to get around. But unlike in a lot of European countries, where I could pick up little things simply from knowing English and having studied Latin, here it is completely foreign, even down to the lettering.
Everything is going to be completely new.
In a way this is scary: it’s a completely new city in a completely new country on the other side of the world. I don’t know anyone there, I don’t speak the language, I really have no idea what I am getting myself into.
But it is also exciting, and this is the part that I am focusing on. I am going to get to experience a culture completely different from what I have lived in my entire life. I will meet completely new people, who come from all sorts of backgrounds, and not the same ones that I would meet at school or at work at home.
I am excited to get to learn new things, to get to spend time in a new place, and to do things I never would at home. And I am so excited to get a chance to broaden my horizons, to see new countries, and to volunteer at places that can really make a difference.
It’s a 180 degree turn, and I can’t wait!