Emily Carlson is a Junior Environmental Studies and Geology major who is currently studying abroad in Nepal for the fall semester.
Emily said that she chose the location before she even knew what the program was. “I just knew I wanted to be somewhere in Asia, and the opportunity to live in the Himalayas for a few months was incredibly enticing.”
Emily was encouraged to study abroad by other classmates and advisors that she looked up to. “I saw what an impact it had on some of my closest friends”, she said, “and I wanted in!”
She remembers her feelings when she first arrived in Nepal a few months ago. “I remember having a lot of emotions – nervousness, excitement, exhaustion – in the first days that seemed to swirl around and change by the hour. We were in a very new place and trying to get to know twenty new classmates and it was definitely a challenge to keep it all together.”
After living in Nepal for several months now, Emily feels like she has really immersed herself into the culture, as opposed to just sightseeing. “The best part about my program is that we are living in homestay a with Tibetan refugee families. I think having some separation from the other students on the program as well as having a loving family waiting for you at the end of each day is so important to staying sane for me. It also feels like I’m really living in Kathmandu, not just visiting for four months.”
Not every part of a study abroad experience goes as smoothly as one would hope, Emily admits. “It can be difficult and frustrating in so many different aspects if things turn out differently than you imagined or expected. This can include student-to-student relationships or how you get along with staff or even how heavy or light the work load is.”
Emily says she misses certain parts of being on campus. This mostly includes the people. She said she misses her friends, teammates, and professors.
She said that the activity that she most looks forward to when she returns home is baking cookies and bread for Christmas. “Did you know there are no ovens in the homes in Nepal? I did not”, she added.
Emily also offered advice to her fellow Gusties that are considering studying abroad but are nervous or unsure. “First pick something you love, whether it’s the place or a topic of study, the rest will fall into place. Also, don’t be afraid to just do something totally different from your major – that’s a huge way to learn new skills and meet people with different perspectives,” Carlson said.
“I think I’ve learned what makes me most uncomfortable, like boredom, and what I rely on to make me comfortable, like the people I love and chocolate. Really, I learned so much more about how I function as a human among other humans, and just knowing that will allow me to live a more introspective empathetic life.”