The past 48 hours have been a hectic, chaotic blur as I struggled to prepare for this trip, but I can honestly say that there have been few things in my life that have ever made me this excited! Just a few months ago it was still unclear as to whether or not this opportunity was a possibility for me, and now that it’s all coming together and it is the eve of our departure, it all seems incredibly surreal. For that I have my family to thank, as well as my incredible friends, Professor Pfau, and Dr. Escoto. Everyone in my life has been so incredibly supportive, and if it weren’t for Dr. Escoto I have a feeling this trip would have fallen apart the minute the layover in Bahrain became an issue, or our return flight to Delhi was moved up. To my parents, thank you for backing me up (both emotionally and financially) in the preparation of this trip. There are no words to describe how grateful I am!
From the minute I heard about this opportunity, I knew it was something I couldn’t allow to slip through my fingers. Psychology has always been a passion of mine, and with everything that I’ve learned in my two years at Eastern I’ve only become increasingly fascinated by the subject. I love learning about the connection between mind and body, and though I didn’t know this until recently, the medical world in Nepal is based solely on that principle. I can’t wait to see how their Ayurvedic clinics handle health and wellness issues, and how it differs from our methods. I’m also thrilled to be a part of something Eastern seems to be so proud of, and I’m looking forward to making the most of the experience and sharing it with all of you so that more trips like this will be likely in the future for other students. Not to mention, I’m sure a trip like this will show graduate schools how serious I am about my studies in the field of psychology!
Honestly, the more I’ve learned in the past week of classes about Nepal, the more I’ve begun to realize that I couldn’t have chosen a better place for my first international trip. Of course it isn’t the most luxurious, glamourous vacation spot, but I’d be hard pressed to find another nation as rich with culture, history, religion and beauty as Nepal. I came in to this class knowing next to nothing about the tiny country, and now I’m able to enter their world with a newfound knowledge and respect for their customs and way of life.
Just to share a few of the more interesting things I learned about Nepalese customs during my studies:
-Feet are considered the most impure part of the body, and the head is the most pure. If you accidentally touch someone with your feet, it is customary to tap their shoulder and then tap your head in order to pay back respect to that person. Otherwise you will be seen as extremely rude.
-Always remember to use your right hand for this exchange! In Nepal, the left hand is considered unclean (that is the hand believed to be used to wipe in the bathroom). Also, don’t get caught eating with your left hand, the locals will think you’re disgusting.
-In this area shaking your head is a way of saying “yes”, and nodding your head means “no”. It is the opposite of what we do in America!
-It common for people of the same sex to hold hands in public and has nothing to do with sexual orientation, but for a man and a woman to touch in public is considered offensive.
-The Nepalese feel it is rude to comment on other people’s beauty or attractiveness, but if you want to pay a compliment, call them fat! In Nepal, this is the nicest thing you can say to someone because it implies that they look wealthy and comfortable.
-Arranged marriages are most common in Nepal rather than personally chosen relationships, and the family of the bride must provide a dowry to the family of the groom. Polygamy, though never a common occurrence in Nepal, was just recently made illegal.
Some other facts about Nepalese culture that you may find interesting are:
-There are over 72 different ethnic groups, and over 100 spoken languages within the nation (with a population of 27 million)
-The Nepalese love art (shown in temples, statues, and paintings
-Festivals are extremely common, celebrating everything form national holidays and certain gods and goddesses, to good family values.
-Most Nepalese are in bed by 9pm, so most shops and restaurants don’t stay open last then. On weekends there are bars and clubs that are frequented by tourists, but you have to be out of them by 12 when they close up.
-The drinking age is 24, the highest in the world.
-Nepalese folk music is most popular, but recently more western beats have been added to give their music a more modern feel for the above mentioned dance clubs.
Needless to say, this is going to be an extraordinary trip, and with everything I’ve learned as well as my love for people and psychology, I know I’m going to have the time of my life and come back more enriched and enlightened. I will keep you all updated every step of the way (or at least every time I have prolonged access to wifi), and thank you for reading!!