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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013


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Hi everyone! My name is Hanna Cook. I am 18, from Bend, Oregon and I just graduated from boarding school in December. I have since been home spending time with my family and friends and preparing for our adventure in Nepal. I've always been drawn to the culture and belief systems surrounding such seemingly peaceful religions, and I'm excited to learn first hand about them.

 

I've been getting ready for this trip by reading books and hiking in the mountains that are pretty much in my backyard. I've also been working on wrapping up my college interviews, tours, and applications and I am really excited to be on the last stretch of getting everything together to leave for Nepal. I'm both excited and nervous for the next 3 months and I'm looking forward to meeting everyone and sharing this experience with you all!

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

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Hello!

Hanna Cook,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hi everyone! My name is Hanna Cook. I am 18, from Bend, Oregon and I just graduated from boarding school in December. I have since been home spending time with my family and friends and preparing for our adventure in Nepal. I’ve always been drawn to the culture and belief systems surrounding such seemingly peaceful […]

Posted On

05/15/13

Author

Hanna Cook

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A heartfelt Namaste from the crisp and clear winter of the Himalayas.

 

My name is Claire, I am originally from the UK although I have for many years called Kathmandu home, and I have the great privilege of being one of your instructors for the coming semester in Nepal. I am so excited that we will be embarking on this journey together and that I will get the chance to experience the transformative power of this country again through new eyes.

 

I have had a very special relationship with Nepal, and for me it started at the age of 19, which is probably around the age that many of you are now. That was in 2001, a challenging and eventful time for Nepal, the year when the royal family were massacred amid speculation and intrigue. Those first few months I spent in Nepal were not easy. I was challenged, I reassessed my values, and ultimately I became disillusioned with many things from my previous life. However through that disillusionment I somehow became empowered too. Many of my assumptions about my values, worldview and identity had been smashed, and it was down to Nepal.

 

I learned so much from the country and many people in it. I experienced the extremes of sorrow and joy, of despair and hope, of death and rebirth. Many of the guidebooks will tell you that Nepal is a beautiful country, of majestic peaks and subtropical jungle, the people humble and smiling. I would say that these qualities are meaningless unless you open yourself up and reflect on your deepest values of your authentic self. This is what I hope we can all learn and rediscover through this trip.

 

After falling in love with Nepal, in the most literal sense, the first time I came here, I have spent my life finding ways to meaningfully return. My deep bonds with the Nepali people I know found me spending increasing amounts of time in this country, to the point where I consider it home. In 2005 I became a founder member of an NGO, ‘PHASE Nepal’, www.phasenepal.org an organisation working towards the empowerment of some of Nepal’s (and the world’s) most remote and isolated communities.

 

I have spent most of my life working in the field of international development, with all the richness, frustration and complexity that accompanies that. In Nepal I worked with several organizations before founding PHASE, and I also spent several years working in remote Cambodia, another place close to my heart. Back in the UK I spent some time working with young people taking action on global issues in their home communities. My unswerving belief in positive social change, coupled with my faith in the transformative power of education and the inspiration I draw from working with young people, found a perfect synergy when I discovered Dragons. Every experience I have with Dragons is magical. Every experience changes the world.

 

I want to thank you for making the choice to come on this program; you have already won my deepest admiration for that. This trip will challenge you to step outside your comfort zone in a way that nothing ever has, and if you embrace it, you are likely to have the most profound learning encounters of your life.

 

I can’t wait to meet you in a few short weeks, to discuss our hopes and goals and views of the world over a hot cup of ‘chiya’ (something that the British and the Nepalese have in common – the cultural significance of TEA!)

 

With excitement for the trip ahead,

 

Claire

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

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Instructor Introduction – Claire

Claire Bennett,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

Description

A heartfelt Namaste from the crisp and clear winter of the Himalayas.   My name is Claire, I am originally from the UK although I have for many years called Kathmandu home, and I have the great privilege of being one of your instructors for the coming semester in Nepal. I am so excited that […]

Posted On

05/15/13

Author

Claire Bennett

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Namaste!

 

I am looking forward to meeting you and sharing in this extraordinary journey that we have ahead this spring.  I am sure that you are excited and maybe a little nervous too. 

 

In thinking of what I could say in the way of preparing you for Nepal, I am reminded of my impressions on my first trip, a week after having graduated from Middlebury College.  I could not believe that such a different world existed on the same planet that I grew up on.  I was confronted with bewildering paradoxes which overwhelmed my senses and left me feeling that every day was more full than I ever thought possible.  I don't think it is assuming too much to say that your experiences this spring will change the way you see the world and your place in it.

 

I have lived in Nepal and India for most of the past 12 years and find that the longer I stay, the more I realize how much there is to learn from people who are connected to ancient cultures with deep wisdom traditions.  After college I spent several years in Nepal studying Buddhism, teaching English, leading summer travel programs, learning to sculpt stone Buddhas with a master Nepali sculptor, and trekking into the high Himalayas as often as I could.  Nine years ago I began leading semester abroad programs in India, Nepal and Tibet and feel incredibly fortunate to continue to have the opportunity to grow and learn and teach in such an extraordinary environment. 

 

I will be brief as nothing I could write, nothing you could read or watch, and nothing anyone could say could truly prepare you for what is in store for you.  My recommendation is to come light in expectations and in luggage and open to what is to come.  Of all that you bring with you, your open receptivity, flexibility and humor will be the most essential.   

 

Having said that, I am sure you will have a lot of questions emerge as the departure date approaches. Please don't hesitate to post a yak if you think we can help in answering any of them.  Please continue to check the yak board as we will be posting packing tips and other useful info in the coming weeks. 

 

I look forward to meeting you all and to sharing this journey with you!

 

Namaste!

Adrian

 

 

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

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A letter of introduction

Adrian Smith,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Namaste!   I am looking forward to meeting you and sharing in this extraordinary journey that we have ahead this spring.  I am sure that you are excited and maybe a little nervous too.    In thinking of what I could say in the way of preparing you for Nepal, I am reminded of my […]

Posted On

05/15/13

Author

Adrian Smith

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Namaste my soon to be fellow travelers! My name is Sweta and I am very excited to be a part of this Himalayan Semester this Spring!

 

I am Nepali and call Kathmandu Valley my hometown. Born and raised in the Valley, I worked for one of the oldest adventure sports company in the country as an International Trip Coordinator after college. The work involved extensive traveling within the country, which cultivated a strong desire to continue exploring the rural areas and learn more about my own people and their lifestyle. 

 


Traveling puts us in many circumstances and situations when we cannot have answers to our questions instantly. It is a great test of letting go and embracing what is in front of you for what it really is, and let the answer to our curiosities manifest in the future. It is a physical journey taken to come closer to our spiritual-self and allow it to empower us. But the tricky part for people from this part of the world is maintaining that fine balance of independent traveling of self-discovery and keeping the family and community values intact. It is this complexity of one’s role that many women and men in this part of the world either gracefully straddle (or aspire to) that you, my courageous fellow travelers, will get to experience in the days to come. I feel honored to be a translator of this beautiful complexity for you. 

 â€¨I will be looking forward to seeing you all in Nepal in few months and beginning our journey together. In the meantime, please do take advantage of this Yak board to post your questions, concerns, interest etc., which will hugely benefit our Himalayan Semester Fall '13 community.  And before I sign off for now, I would like to welcome everyone aboard on the Dragon’s adventure boat and congratulate each one of you for choosing to come and travel with us. You are one of the very few lucky ones to have such special opportunity to explore Nepal the way we are going to. So, get excited!!! Thank your friends and family for making this happen, and also thank them for encouraging and supporting you in this brave endeavor. Enjoy packing and have a safe journey over to Nepal!

 

Dhanyabaad (Thank You!)

Sweta  

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

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Namaste!

Sweta Gurung,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Namaste my soon to be fellow travelers! My name is Sweta and I am very excited to be a part of this Himalayan Semester this Spring!   I am Nepali and call Kathmandu Valley my hometown. Born and raised in the Valley, I worked for one of the oldest adventure sports company in the country as an International Trip Coordinator […]

Posted On

05/15/13

Author

Sweta Gurung

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Hello instructors and travel-mates! 

I cannot express my excitement for the beginning of this journey! It has been made very clear that it will be an eye-opening, life-changing opportunity and i look forward to getting to share the experience with you all!

 

A little bit about myself:

My name is Malena Pennycook, i am 17 and a student in Austin, Texas. I am originally from Canada, and i also have a lot of family in Argentina. I grew up in Texas mostly and i must say i have always been a little dissapointed by the lack of mountains around here, so hopefully the Himalayas will make for a nice change in scenery (and weather)!

I have been on several Adventure Treks trips, a sort of teen version of dragons with the same focus on community and the outdoors, and the trips rocked my young world. I fell in love with the unkown (people, places, experiences), and then somehow found myself here with Dragons.

 

I have yearned for a change in routine before going off to college and so I decided to graduate a early from high school to embark on this journey with you lovely strangers! I have spent lot of this year stressing about college apps and i feel this adventure will remind me of what's really important before heading off to college next year. Next year, i hope to major in theatre and minor in a social science somewhere up north (NYU, Boston, Canada). In the next month i will be graduating from high school, flying to New York to do all my theatre auditions, and packing! 

 

The things i am most nervous about for this trip are probably the homestays, and just the fear of being away from home for so long. I am most excited about the trekking and the service projects. I am fascinated by the religion and culture of Nepal, and cannot wait to learn more over this next semester. I am certainly anxious about many elements, but i also know that i am absolutely in the right place! I cannot wait to learn, explore and grow with you all. 

 

Good luck with all you have to take care of this next month, i so look foward to getting to know each of you beginning Feb. 10! 

See you soon!

Malena Pennycook 

 

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

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Hi Friends!

Malena Pennycook,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hello instructors and travel-mates!  I cannot express my excitement for the beginning of this journey! It has been made very clear that it will be an eye-opening, life-changing opportunity and i look forward to getting to share the experience with you all!   A little bit about myself: My name is Malena Pennycook, i am […]

Posted On

05/15/13

Author

Malena Pennycook

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Hello!

 

Wow, it's hard to believe how fast this trip is approaching! I am unbelievably excited and anxious to get going.

 

My name is Sarah Ramirez. I am 18 years old and from Hanover, New Hampshire. I grew up in the United States, though my entire paternal side of the family is from Heredia, Costa Rica (my father came here, so I am first generation American). I mainly grew up in New England and developed a huge passion for backpacking, hiking, and spending time outdoors. I have never travelled so far in my life (I've only been to Europe outside of the US), but I have backpacked for several weeks at a time in New England and Colorado. I am super excited for trekking in the Himalayas!

I just graduated from my boarding school this past december, and I knew that I would want a life-changing adventure before i head off to college in the fall. I chose this program mainly for the content. I am very interested in Eastern religion and philosophy, and have wanted to travel to Asia for some time. I also wanted to experience the difference in cultures to put my own life in perspective. As someone who has grown up in a mix of cultures, I really value how such experiences can teach you about yourself and the world around you. I am most excited about trekking and going to the monastery.

 

I am nervous about the homestay (I have stayed with families in other countries, but usually we shared a common language, and Nepali seems incredibly difficult!). However, I am up for the challenge! Mostly, I am excited to really learn from my experience.  

 

A little bit more about my interests: I love to be phsically active. In the past, I was really into crew (rowing) and basketball. Now, I run and take part in several races per year and am currently taking a Bikram Yoga class. My other main passion is music. I have been playing guitar and alto saxophone since I was a kid, and I sing as well. I usually enjoy most types of music, though I have more of an affinity to rock, metal, and alternative music. 

 

I am very excited to get to know all of you, and to meet you all! I am so excited for this journey and grateful for the opportunity!

 

See you all before too long!

Sarah Mayela Ramirez 

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

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Hey Everyone!

Sarah M. Ramirez,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hello!   Wow, it’s hard to believe how fast this trip is approaching! I am unbelievably excited and anxious to get going.   My name is Sarah Ramirez. I am 18 years old and from Hanover, New Hampshire. I grew up in the United States, though my entire paternal side of the family is from […]

Posted On

05/15/13

Author

Sarah M. Ramirez

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Namaste fellow travelers!

 

In just a few short weeks, we'll all be here together in the heart of the ancient Kathmandu valley, setting out on a journey into the life, culture and landscape of the Himalayas. Your instructor team has been working hard to put together a transformative, challenging and fun course, and we wanted to give you an idea of some of the experiences we’ll be engaged in and what you can expect as we move through our 13 weeks together.

 

What we have outlined below is the general flow that we anticipate, but of course the very nature of the adventure on which we are embarking is flexible and subject to exciting changes!

 

 

Week 1:

 

Welcome to Nepal! Your I-Team will meet you at Tribhuwan International Airport in Kathmandu in the late evening of your arrival day, and we will all head to Bhaktapur for the first part of our course: Orientation. Bhaktapur is a medieval Newari city in Kathmandu Valley where we will encounter the traditional arts and architecture and the unique blend of Buddhist and Hindu iconography and religious beliefs. Here we will take the time to get to know each other as a group and set our own hopes and expectations for the experience. It is here we begin our first Nepali language lessons and receive tools to settle into this unique and fascinating culture with confidence and respect.

 

Weeks 2 through 7:

 

Leaving orientation fully prepared to seize every opportunity this magical country has to offer, we will begin our urban home-stay in Kathmandu. There are few cities on earth as dynamic, multi-layered and steeped in history and myth as Kathmandu. It is also home to one of the highest concentrations of UNESCO sites anywhere in the world. You will be individually paired up with an adopted family that will quickly become like your own.

 

Settling into our daily routine, you will come in the mornings Monday through Friday to our beautiful program house, where the agenda will include such things as yoga, meditation, language lessons, lectures and discussions about contemporary issues facing Nepal, structured assignments and lunch. Afternoons will be your own time to pursue your Independent Study Projects (ISPs), and we’ll help you find a mentor and resources according to your interests and passions. Families always want more time with their home-stay son or daughter, so weekends will be spent with them so that they can indulge in more cultural experiences separate from the group activities. Some weekend days we will go for student-organized group excursions, to visit sacred sites and celebrate local festivities. A short trek of 3 -5 days will be incorporated sometime during our Kathmandu stay to get into the wilderness and recharge. We will wrap-up our urban home-stay experience with a student organized family bhoj (party) where students will share their ISP experiences and thank our Kathmandu community for welcoming us into their lives.

 

This portion of the course, which involves a structured and rigorous academic as well as experiential curriculum, requires a healthy balance between time with your group, your gurus (teachers/instructors), your home-stay families, and your own personal space.

 

Students in past programs have noted the following things about the urban time in Kathmandu: jeans, t-shirts and cotton clothing are appropriate for the urban home-stay; mornings are structured until lunch; students will use public transportation to move around the city on their own; you will have the opportunity to buy traditional tailor-made clothes; language is a major component of the course; the city is polluted, congested and challenging, but students frequently comment that Kathmandu provides some of the most rewarding experiences on the course.

  

Week 8:

 

Next we will begin a ten-day meditation retreat and introduction to Tibetan Buddhism at Kopan monastery (www.kopanmonastery.com). Aside from trekking in the Himalayas, this unique and powerful portion of the course may be one of the most challenging things you have ever done in your life thus far: sitting with your mind and looking inward. 

 

Kopan is a lively and flourishing monastery in the Gelukpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, where several hundred monks and nuns live and study. Kopan also has a long history of teaching the Dharma (Buddhist teachings) to a western audience and we are privileged to attend one of their wonderful retreats, where we will be introduced to the world of Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism. Living and studying amongst Tibetan monks, our daily routine will be simple: we rise early, meditate, study the principles of Tibetan Buddhism, eat simple meals, engage in discussions and spend lots of time reflecting on the nature of our minds, reality and life.  Set on a beautiful hilltop on the outer perimeter of the Kathmandu Valley, the Kopan retreat often proves to be a richly rewarding experience. 

 

Weeks 9 & 10:

 

We depart Kathmandu valley for a rural home-stay in a village situated in the Himalayan foothills. Our days in the village will be spent sharing in family life in this traditional agricultural community.  We'll participate in the everyday tasks of our home-stay families: waking up early, collecting water at the communal taps, working in the fields, learning local crafts, or spending hours hunched over a fire preparing meals. Participating in village life also allows us a rich first-hand perspective to discuss issues of development, ethnicity, and spirituality. Language lessons will take place every day during our village-stay and there will no be shortage of opportunities to practice your new skills with your home-stay families! A highlight of our time in rural Nepal will also be a community-exchange service project, where we collaborate with locals and learn about sewa, or the cultural practice of service/giving. 

 

Week 11 through 13:

 

We will wrap up the program by embarking on a Himalayan trek. We will journey through remote mountain villages carrying everything we need on our backs, all against the backdrop of majestic snow-capped peaks. Our days will be simple here. We will wake up early, go to sleep early, walk long hours, gain elevation slowly and enjoy simple meals like we have never before. Our evenings will be filled with hot tea, laughter and sharing stories about what Nepal has taught us about the world, spirituality and life. Most importantly, on this trek, we will expect each student to step up and lead the group through our daily activities. Your leadership and communication skills, along with maintaining a positive group culture and teamwork, will prove to be essential in order for us to succeed.  

 

And thus we will begin our final stage of transference, alongside the high alpine terrain of the Himalayas – home to snow leopards, blue sheep, many species of birds and the elusive yeti!  We will reflect back on our 13 weeks in Nepal and start dialogues around our fears and expectations of returning to the culture which for most of us was the only one we knew before. Your I-team will give you tools to settle back into the country you are returning to and discuss ways of continuing such support. The group will then travel back to Kathmandu for repacking and to say goodbyes to their families and mentors.

 

 

We hope this sounds as exciting to you as it does to us!  Please now take the time to introduce yourself on this yak-yak board, and keep checking it regularly for introductions from your fellow adventurers and preparatory updates from your I-team. We will be posting some pre-course assignments to get you thinking about the journey ahead soon!

 

We also plan to schedule a phonecall with you in the coming few days and weeks to have a chance to get excited, share your concerns and answer any questions you have about any part of this itinerary, the curriculum, packing and preparation.

 

And so, we begin our journey.

 

Your Himalayan Instructor-team,

Sweta, Adrian and Claire 

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

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Our journey into the Himalayas – a tentative itinerary

Sweta, Adrian and Claire,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Namaste fellow travelers!   In just a few short weeks, we’ll all be here together in the heart of the ancient Kathmandu valley, setting out on a journey into the life, culture and landscape of the Himalayas. Your instructor team has been working hard to put together a transformative, challenging and fun course, and we […]

Posted On

05/15/13

Author

Sweta, Adrian and Claire

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    [post_date] => 2013-05-15 08:47:13
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-05-15 14:47:13
    [post_content] => 

Hello Students and Parents,

 

As we are sure you are well aware that staying healthy in Nepal will require more vigilance than in the US, we would like to provide you with some thoughts on staying healthy this spring in Nepal.  We will be sharing all that we know with you when you arrive in Nepal (before you inadvertently go to drink water from the tap- or even brush your teeth with it!) but there are a few preventative medicines/supplements you may want to consider bringing with you to give your system a boost and to reduce the chances of getting sick.  In saying that, we want to emphasize that you know your body best and your body’s needs. Please note that these are only suggestions and you are not required to bring any of this with you.  We do provide a diet over the course of the semester that we think is well-rounded and ample.

 

Here are a few suggestions...

 

Anti-bacterial gel to keep your hands clean

Pro-Biotics

Vitamin C

Echinacea or Airborne to fight off colds

Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) - acts like a natural anti biotic (nutribiotic)

Charcoal - acts to absorb bacteria and toxins in the intestines

 

As mentioned above, we do our best to provide the healthiest food possible, but in some areas such as the village stay and trek the diet is less varied and so you may want to consider bringing some of the following...

 

Perfect Food (or any super food powder)

Multi-vitamins

Vit B complex

 

These are some of the supplements we travel with and have found beneficial.  Anything which promotes a healthy immune system or works as a dietary supplement is great.  There is a huge range of options available and we encourage you to learn more about what might make most sense for you. 

 

During our semester we will not be traveling in the southern areas of Nepal where malaria is found.  We ourselves will not be taking any malaria prophylaxis but defer to you to discuss with your travel doctor on what is best for you.  For additional information here is a link to advice on malaria from the most reputable clinic in Nepal.  http://ciwec-clinic.com/health-information/malaria-advice-for-travelers-to-nepal/.

 

To your health!

 

Your Instructors,

Adrian, Sweta and Claire

 

 

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

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Staying Healthy in Nepal

Adrian, Sweta and Claire,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hello Students and Parents,   As we are sure you are well aware that staying healthy in Nepal will require more vigilance than in the US, we would like to provide you with some thoughts on staying healthy this spring in Nepal.  We will be sharing all that we know with you when you arrive […]

Posted On

05/15/13

Author

Adrian, Sweta and Claire

WP_Post Object
(
    [ID] => 16469
    [post_author] => 30
    [post_date] => 2013-05-15 08:47:13
    [post_date_gmt] => 2013-05-15 14:47:13
    [post_content] => 

Hey everyone! 

 

Getting extremely stoked as this trip fast approaches. I've been literally dreaming about meeting you guys since November so I'll share the facts about me I guess! I'm 20 years old -born & raised in San Diego, CA- and I'm now taking a gap semester as a Junior at Chapman U in Orange County. Lately though, I've been reorganizing my priorities and have realized how badly I need to escape OC's smog and concrete, so I'm trying to transfer elsewhere to study Sociology (hopefully Colorado!) Since I've gotten the chance to travel a few other places like Australia, Japan, & the Philippines, I've taken a deep interest in every new culture I come in contact with and so I'm beyond excited to get to share an experience in Nepal with you all.

 

Other than my interest in Sociology I do a few other things to keep me busy. I've been surfing with my Dad since I was 7, doing photography since highschool, music throughout, and the past couple years I've been addicted to rock climbing.

 

Anyway, just a bit about me. Can't wait to hear from/meet all of you! I have hardly any photos of myself, but here's one of me in the beautiful Joshua Tree Nat. Park

- Nick 

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Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

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Heyo! (too excited)

Nick King,Himalayan Studies Semester, Spring 2013

Description

Hey everyone!    Getting extremely stoked as this trip fast approaches. I’ve been literally dreaming about meeting you guys since November so I’ll share the facts about me I guess! I’m 20 years old -born & raised in San Diego, CA- and I’m now taking a gap semester as a Junior at Chapman U in […]

Posted On

05/15/13

Author

Nick King

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