1. It’s so much more than just mountains
When many people think of Nepal, tall mountains and hiking are often one of their first associations. However, keep in mind that Nepal has so much more to offer than that. In fact, I am not a big hiker at all, and that was definitely not the most prominent reason why I chose to study here. Until now, I have had 0 hiking trips and 7 days at the pool just 10 minutes away from where I live. This is actually one of the most tropical places I’ve ever been.
Speaking of tropical and exotic places, Nepal is also home to a remarkably diverse climate. One day you can expect pouring rain and sandals that will never dry, and another day prepare yourself for an evening with lightning all around you and thunder that almost wakes you up at night. One night I woke up at 2 am and had to walk out to our balcony just to get a look at this phenomenon I most certainly am not used to. Finally, most days the sunscreen is on and you’re preparing yourself for a relaxing day at the pool or one of the waterfalls.
In Nepal, you will see temples everywhere you go. Many of them are at UNESCOs heritage list, and for good reason. You can expect colorful, majestic temples that will bring out some spirituality and enlightenment in even the most non-spiritual persons. Where we live, Shanti Stupa, located at a small mountain; Tal Barahi Temple, located in the middle of the lake; and the Pema Dechenling Monastery right next to our school, have become my favorites. The latter is also a perfect one to go to one day before school, as they have a morning prayer you can participate in, and you can get pancakes for breakfast.
4.Yoga, meditation, and sound healing
While the temples will bring out some spirituality in you, yoga, sound healing, and meditation will bring out your inner peace! I’ve been to several yoga classes in Norway and California, and it is evident that the Yoga we practice in the West is completely different from how they do it here. From my experience, there is less focus on the work-out part of it, and more on the peace and meditation aspect. Sound healing is also big here, and there is nothing better to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed. It also doesn’t hurt that massages and manicures are super cheap here!
Yoga, meditation, sound healing, and massages are only a small part of the calm atmosphere that Nepal offers. Most importantly, is the concept of “nepali time”, which basically means that everyone is always 10-20 minutes late. It means never stressing or rushing to anything because you know that you can expect the other person to be late as well. It’s a sense of peace.
6. The animals
Have you ever wondered what it feels like to share the road with cows on your way to school every day? Or having monkeys come up close when you’re checking out a temple? If so, then the only rational destination is Nepal.
I decided to study peace and conflict in Nepal for two reasons: 1) it’s such an important, but neglected field in development and the knowledge is much needed today, and 2) it doesn’t make sense to study something like that in Norway. When you study in Nepal, you are much closer to the concepts your professor is giving lectures about and the assigned readings. Abstract terms and concepts such as structural violence quickly become more tangible and understandable, something that makes studying much more interesting. In addition, it is a broad field, touching on everything from psychology and religion to political theory and history, which makes it relevant to a spectrum of career paths.
8. Cheaper than to study in Europe
Many people have a perception that it is very expensive to study abroad. This is simply not true. At least for me and my living expenses in Oslo, I save a good amount of money on not having to pay Norway’s high rent, electricity, and food prices. Of course, Kulturstudier fixes accommodation, so the only expense you have to think about is food, something that is manageable with a regular meal price of $4. Even if the budget ends up going over what you expected, I would still recommend going. If anything, you can consider it an investment for future job opportunities, as studying abroad looks good on a job application! (And of course, all the priceless memories you are going to get.)
9. Delicious food
Every day I try something new. The Nepali kitchen is full of delicious spices and a variety of different dishes. The traditional food “Dal Bhat” has become one of my favorites, along with fresh smoothie bowls, pad thai, and crispy falafels.10. Travel after
Lastly, there are tons of travel opportunities once the semester is done. People in our class are going to all sorts of destinations, including Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India – to mention a few. The flight ticket from Europe to Nepal might be a little pricey, but the fact is that once you’re in Asia it is generally very cheap to travel between countries. In other words, if you are going to Nepal, you are most likely going to several other destinations as well!
In sum, Nepal offers a majestical landscape and tropical nature, diverse and exotic climate, wildlife, temples and spiritual journeys, interesting lectures, delicious and diverse food, and several other travel destinations. To me, it is a hidden jewel in Asia that simply must be explored!