September 3rd – September 8th
“Here I am, looking at the flight itinerary next to me, afraid to see who I will become after this journey; a feeling I’ve never felt before. Study abroad, an experience I have yearned for since a young boy is about to begin. If someone would have told me 10 years ago that I would be studying abroad someday, 10-year-old Quincy would have been in disbelief. Study abroad was an experience I was convinced not made for people like me–first-generation, low income, the child of immigrants–yet here I am. The problem remains my mind still inhabits the same mental space as my 10-year-old self, trapped in the thoughts of young Quincy. Am I ready to challenge the thoughts of my former self? Am I really ready to overcome my fears? Before me is a journey I have yearned, fought, and trained so hard for. Here I am pursuing a path no one before me has walked, anxious to see where it will take me.”
The paragraph above is an excerpt from my pre-departure writing assignment, the essence of the paper was to integrate my pre-departure feelings with one of the readings. The week prior to my departure was filled with an intimidating course-load of pre-departure assignments, coupled with feelings of uncertainty, excitement, and melancholy. In the midst of preparation, it occurred to me that the person I was when selecting this study abroad program and the person I am now are two different people. This confrontation awakened emotions of doubt and hesitancy. Am I ready to live in the collision of three cultures, learn two new languages, live with multiple new families, and conduct a one-month independent research project? Am I intellectually, physically, and mentally ready to confront these new tasks?
After nearly 35 hours of travel time, I felt defeated. I arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal around 11 am, where I went through immigration services, briefly introduced myself to my cohort, and got on a bus to Pharping, Nepal where orientation took place. The bus ride to Pharping swept away the feeling of defeat I initially began with–the Kathmandu valley, high hills, prayer flags, wide colored spectrum of buildings, and monasteries took my breath away–my eyes were captivated. We arrived at our destination, the Pure Vision Lodge late afternoon where orientation began.
The first days of orientation were filled with hours of Tibetan class, lectures, program overview, and introductions. In between sessions, we had 15-minute tea sessions where I journaled or had conversations. The Pure Vision Lodge in Pharping felt safe–my cohort and I spent time enjoying one another’s company, learning Tibetan, and eating every meal together. This routine was one I deeply enjoyed, I got the space to build relationships, explore, adjust to the new environment, and reflect.
After five days in Nepal, this routine came to an end and thus we departed Pharping, setting forth toward Boudha, Kathmandu where we were scheduled to begin official classes and homestays. I still remember how tense my body felt on the bus ride to Bouda–once again, the feeling of doubt and hesitancy I felt before coming to Nepal surfaced.
After just a few steps into Boudha, I immediately noticed the presence of the Tibetan diaspora–signs written in Tibetan filled the streets, Tibetan restaurants at every corner, a person dressed in Tibetan attire at every turn. Walking through the main gate into Boudha Stupa (the most popular place in Boudha) felt like walking into a different world. In front of me, was the Boudhanath Stupa, next to me were several shops, restaurants, and cafes, everywhere there were people. In just a few minutes, curiosity and inspiration conquered my mind–my mind knew that my time in Boudha will be filled with new exciting experiences and challenges.
Shortly after arriving in Boudha I met my homestay Pala (father), Tsering Wangyal. In the conversation we had while walking home, I learned that my Pala is a Tibetan language teacher, grew up in Bhutan, and studied in India for many years. When we arrived home, I met my Amala (mother) and Chochola (older brother) both welcomed me with the words Tashi Delek (hello) and a big smile. After introductions and milk tea with my host family, my Pala and I went to the Boudha Stupa where we had more milk tea–in our time there he further shared his journey, the history of Boudha and Nepal, and the Tibetan diaspora. We returned home around seven p.m. and had a family dinner, afterward I went to my room where I took a big breath, unpacked, and journaled. My first night in Boudha marked the end of my first week in Nepal.
Here I am, in Kathmandu, excited to see who I become after this journey–a feeling I am familiar with. Study abroad, an experience I have yearned for since a young boy, has begun. If someone would have told me 10 years ago that I would be studying abroad someday, 10-year-old Quincy would have been in disbelief. Study abroad was an experience I was convinced not made for people like me–first-generation, low income, the child of immigrants–yet here I am. The mentality that 10-year old Quincy had is now shattered. Am I ready to challenge the thoughts of young Quincy? Am I intellectually, physically, and mentally ready to confront these new tasks? Am I ready to overcome my fears?
I was reminded this week, that I will never be ready for anything; perhaps, that’s the beauty of the unknown. Finding the strength to set aside feelings of doubt and uncertainty to achieve my aspirations is a performance I have never been confident in performing, yet I still do it. Perhaps, the question I should ask myself more often is why do I do it? In reflection, I know deep down that the answer will always remain the same: I am more afraid of regret than I am of failure.
My first week in Nepal reconnected me with a phrase I repeat in times of hardship, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” It is important now more than ever to perform.