I believe that everyone should travel at least one during their lifetime. Traveling is such a great opportunity and so many people miss out on such amazing and enlightening experiences. Colleges offer a numerous amount of opportunities for their students to travel, but despite that, I feel like many students believe they can’t afford to travel.
For a project for my Digital Writing course, I create a traveling guide for students (and any traveler in general) for Nicaragua and Nepal. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to both countries and using my experience, I tried to show all the amazing things someone could go in the countries, as well as various traveling tips and guidelines.
So I present my Traveling Guide for College Students and I hope it helps show people that it is possible to travel, and to afford it. No one should miss out on an incredible life-changing opportunity because they believe they don’t have the money for it.
It’s the little rewards that keep on pushing you through the pain and through the struggle.
It makes it really worth it in the end.
While in Nepal near the end of 2 and a ½ week journey, the trekking became tough mentally and physically for most everyone on the trip. To one of my friends, Adrianne, the strain of trekking for several hours a day was getting to her, especially since she had never hiked before this trip into the Himalayas.
In one of our final days of hiking, it was the smallest of things that helped pull her through. She was lagging slightly behind with our professor and another student up the rocky and dirt hills. As we went through one of the villages, we stopped because we saw something that would keep her going. Baby goats. When she heard that they were just at the top of the hill, it pushed her to finish that small hurdle. Her reward? Being surrounded by five baby goats and even being able to hold one; basically a dream come true. It completely made the trip for her and she was able to push through the remainder of our trek, a happy memory forever embedded into her mind.
So sometimes it really is just the little things that keeps us pushing. Has anything so minuscule made such a huge impact like that in your life?
One of the most amazing things about traveling is the views that you’re able to see. Every place has its unique beauty within. One of the most remarkable that I had seen in my travels wasn’t in any particular country. It was on the plane, flying east towards Nepal.
We were able to watch the sun rise from the horizon of the world, as a pale rainbow encompassed the sky, as the sun spread its light among the sleeping. We were flying towards the waking world and behind us, everything was dark. It was incredible to see the difference in the sky, to see the time difference between places and it was a sight that I will always remember.
It just reminds me that there is beauty everywhere in the world. And it was fascinating to see it from such a perspective. It took my breath away as I watched the sun rise and bright its light into the world. What sights pierced your soul as your eyes fell upon them in wonder? What is always amazing about traveling for you?
As I was going through my journal from back in Nicaragua looking for something to write about, I came across Hank. I stopped right there and knew I had to write about him.
A blurry picture of Hank as he waited outside our hotel for us
He was an incredible dog. A stray dog that roamed the streets of Granada. We never fed him or pet him or gave him any sort of attention. Yet he started following us one night while we were out about the town. We tried to make him go away, but he never would. He would bark and even chase after cars as they drove by. We even, at one point in the night, stopped back at our hotel for a bit. He waited outside like a watchdog. And he followed us towards the bar. It was as if he took it upon his duty to watch over us, a group of college students very far from home, and make sure that nothing bad happened to us. So we named him Hank.
I sometimes wonder if anything would’ve happened to us that night if he weren’t there protecting us from harm. Although it was strange and so out of the ordinary for all of us, I can’t help but wonder if there was a reason he was following us around, like some greater force was watching over us.
Looking back at your own travels, has there been any incidents that seem like that? That you’re being watched out for?
While we were in Nicaragua, we went to León for one of the weekends. Between having a history lesson with amazing murals of art on the walls, visiting a majestic church, and even sliding down a volcano, it was the place where we stayed the night that had a huge impact on me. There, we met a little kitten named Dora that we all became immediate friends with. Her cute friendliness brightened my day and without a doubt could put a smile on anyone’s face. There were also turtles that crawled around the grassy opening in the middle of the place we were staying. We were able to watch them eat watermelon and that itself was an interesting experience. Although the weekend was packed with activity, it was the small things that stayed with me.
That little cat will always be remembered. I wonder now how big she’s gotten and if she is still a wild spirit, causing havoc to the turtles and welcoming every person that comes in.
It was the little things that made the trip even more amazing than it already was.
What little things have made your adventures so much greater?
You hear about customs, you watch videos about traditions, you can learn all you want about a culture, but the magnitude of it all doesn’t really hit you until you are there witnessing it for yourself. Our second day in Nepal was bursting will moments that left me awestruck as I learned about the traditions and the culture of the Buddhists and Hindus. We visited three different temples, a local, Qttara as our guide.
Funeral pyre just starting on right side
But what really got me was when we went to the Hindu temple, Pashupatinath. At this temple, they have funeral pyres where they hold cremations. We were there at a moment when there were a couple going on. On one side of the bridge, regular people had their cremations and that one was beginning.
On the left side, there were only two cremations spots that were reserved for people with high status or the royal family (but since the royal family isn’t in power anymore, people can pay to have a cremation there). A ceremony was just finishing.
So many people lined the bridge and the surrounding area to pay their respects. It was interesting to see their own version of a funeral, to see the Hindu way of respecting the dead. A custom for the men is to shave their heads when someone dies. It’s fascinating to compare our culture and theirs, to see the differences and to see what remains the same. Watching the ceremony with my classmates only just reminded me why I travel. Experiencing a culture firsthand and learning from it is what urges me to explore the world and its people.
What urges you to travel? What culture traditions have made an impact on you?
I consider myself a picky eater. There are certain foods I will not touch. Ever. (At least, I think so right now). Pickles, mustard, beans; all that gross stuff. Yet despite that, I force myself to go out there and try new and unique food when I travel. In Nicaragua, I actually attempted eating the rice and beans our hotel gave us with our breakfast. Still don’t like beans, so that was a no go. But while in Nepal, I tried Dal Bhat, a traditional meal of that area. It consists of a meat (chicken, beef, sometimes yak too (another food I tried)), rice, a bunch of sauces, veggies, lentils, and all sorts of food that you traditionally mix together into one big heaping and eat. Usually with your hands. Although some of my fellow travelers in Nepal delved in with her hands like the Nepali, I decided to keep some of my American customs and used a fork. It was delicious.
Its times like that that I wish I wasn’t such a picky eater. I feel like it holds me back from experiencing so many amazing foods. Maybe one day I’ll overcome it, but until then, I’m going to keep trying the food and dishes from other countries because it could just help me become less picky. And I’m also getting the chance to experience the culture and their customs by doing so. Sometimes I even wish I could create the dishes I’ve had in my travels because I found them much better than my own. Every so often, I wish I could eat Dal Bhat for lunch, even the Nepali way, just because. Food is such an important part of the adventure. Are there any foods that you crave for that you’ve experienced in your travels?