Study Abroad Himalayas

Study Abroad Through Dragons-Naropa: Himalayas


Good for: Students interested in studying issues about traditional art, traditional medicine, Buddhist and Hindu religions, Tibetan culture, or global economic development.


The Dragons Himalaya semester abroad program will be largely based in the Kathmandu valley, an ancient crossroads and melting pot of Himalayan peoples, where students will encounter the convergence of deep traditions with modern life. While living with host families and studying the Nepali language, students will have the opportunity to meet with local scholars and activists and learn about Nepal's history, politics, and culture while pursuing a wide range of possible independent study and service-learning projects.

For the Independent Study Project, students find areas of personal interest to explore in depth during our time in Kathmandu. Bronze casting, jewelry making, stone carving, thangka (Buddhist iconography) painting, and music are just a few of the apprenticeship opportunities available. Students interested in traditional medicine can work with a Tibetan doctor or with Ayurvedic practitioners. With a wide range of NGOs, Kathmandu also offers unparalleled opportunities to learn about the challenges and potential Nepal's traditional society faces with rapid modernization.  

The study of religious traditions is a central component of the semester as the basic principles of Buddhism, Hinduism, and shamanism are introduced. Students attend a ten-day meditation retreat and receive an introductory course on Tibetan Buddhism while living with Tibetan monks at a monastery overlooking the Kathmandu valley.

From Kathmandu, students venture to the foothills of the Himalaya to explore rural Nepali village life and settle in to the slower pace offered there without electricity and learn about subsistence living.  Students also travel higher into the Himalayas of Nepal where they spend time among high-altitude Buddhist farming communities and travel for a week at elevations reaching more than 15,000 ft through one of the most ruggedly beautiful and dramatic areas on earth.

Course Descriptions

This course presents an overview of one of the most ethnically diverse regions of the world. Through selected readings, guest lectures, field trips, research method assignments, a village ethnography study, classroom discussions and a service project, students explore the myriad ethnicities and religious traditions that constitute the region and the development issues that they face. Social inequality is looked at from the perspective of the environment, public health, education, human rights, caste, history and the status of women. Students are introduced to the religious traditions that make up the Himalayan region to further understand and appreciate their philosophies and values and how they have evolved and influenced other systems of belief. Students are provided with an extensive introduction to Hinduism and to Mahayana Buddhism, in particular to the Tibetan tradition. As part of the latter, students participate in a ten-day meditation retreat. They are also briefly introduced to the tradition of Shamanism.
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 the region. Through both guided and organic processes, students examine global citizenship, develop effective intercultural and interpersonal communication skills and explore the depths of their internal landscape in relationship to the outside world. From this wellspring of inner knowing, students discover their own authentic leadership capabilities and strengths as a responsible and curious citizen of the globe.
The Independent Study Project (ISP) offers each student the opportunity to conduct in-depth study on a subject of their choice. Students will be matched with two ISP Advisors; a program instructor who has experience and knowledge relevant to the student's ISP topic as well as a member of the local community with whom the student will study or apprentice. An ISP may involve either an academic focus of inquiry, or learning a skill which would require an apprenticeship.
NEPALI LANGUAGE - NPL 150, 250, OR 350
This course is designed to provide a foundation in conversational Nepali for students with no previous knowledge of the language. Language proficiency is an essential aspect of the program and daily language classes with a Nepali 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 Nepali and practical language skills, the language lessons presented throughout the semester also include grammar, vocabulary development, and the history of the language. Students also gain a basic understanding and utility of the Nepali script (Devanagari script). Students are tested regularly and a written and/or oral exam is required at the conclusion of the course.


Dates for Fall Semester: September 15–December 6 (Course work begins a month before departure and is done at home.)

Dates for Spring Semester: February 12–May 1 (Course work begins a month before departure and is done at home.)

Cost for 2017-2018

Naropa tuition*:    $15,810
Room & Board: $3,890
TOTAL: $19,700

*Tuition includes 12–16 credit hours plus in-country travel and excursions.

Additionally, you will be responsible for:

Airfare: Approximately $2,000
Travel insurance: Approximately $465
Visa: $150
Books & supplies: Approximately $125
Immunizations: Varies
Personal expenses:    Varies


Study Abroad Scholarships

If a student chooses a Naropa Sponsored (Dragons) or Affiliated (SIT) programs, he/she may apply for one of Dragons', or SIT scholarships. In addition to those funds, students may apply for one or more of the other general/regional scholarships for Study Abroad.

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