Every year, over 50% of the Middlebury junior class studies abroad, traveling to more than 40 countries and enrolling at more than 90 different programs and universities. If you’re unaware of study abroad percentages at other schools, just know these are crazy high stats. Plus, we’ve got our own Middlebury Schools Abroad in 37 cities in 17 countries, making us a national leader in foreign language and global studies.
BUT, more often than not, we don’t get to hear the real details of our friends’ abroad experiences. Of course we’re all asked “How WAS it?!” about a billion times upon returning, but, due to time, space, and perhaps interest, it becomes pretty customary to respond “Awesome!,” and leave it at that. Truth be told, no 5-month long experience of international immersion is just “Awesome” or “Great”; every individual’s experience is extremely complex, varied, tumultuous at times, and, hopefully rewarding, but in unique and often unexpected ways.
So, this year middbeat’s makin a serious effort to expose honest, detailed accounts of Midd students’ study abroad experiences, while they’re living them. We’re hoping to post stories/descriptions/reflections wrtiten by any and all Midd students abroad, covering as many countries as possible. If you’re interested in submitting a post, definitely contact us at email@example.com and we’ll set ya up.
For our first post, we’ll be hearing from Isabelle Stillman ’16, an English major from St. Louis who also runs The Orchard Arts Journal at Midd. Isabelle is studying in Kathmandu, Nepal this semester through SIT Study Abroad (a non-Midd owned study abroad many students enjoy). Isabelle’s wrote an incredible snap-shot description of Nepali life based on her experiences just last week. Read and enjoy:
Kathmandu’s streets are lined with open-front shops – sari shops, sweet shops, pet shops (fish only), shampoo shops, packaged biscuit shops, daalbhaat shops – and the keepers, along with an assortment of friends and family members, spend most of the day standing behind the counter or sitting on the stoop, which, in most stretches of road, also functions as a sidewalk and stray dog or cow bed.
Yesterday I walked up the stoop of a pharmacy in search of sleep aid; nothing unusual, I’m just not used to sleeping to the tune of dog fights, neighbors’ Bollywood movies, wounded cats wailing, roosters, and the daily 5 am parade. (Plus, yes, I’m a little overwhelmed, and my brain is slightly unsettled in general.) In the shop, a baby-faced man in a button-down shirt leaned on the counter, which doubled as a plexi-glass medicine case, talking to a cross-armed balding man who sat behind it. The case and the walls were lined with white cardboard boxes of things like “Mydol” and Glucose-D, an instant energy powder that also occupies as many shelves in the supermarket as do the produce and dairy sections combined.
“Namaste,” I said to the bald man. “Tapaaiko aushedhi suTnu chha?” (Boo-yah Nepali.) (What I’m pretty sure this means is “Do you have medicine to sleep?”)
“SuTnu? Sleeping?” I put my palms together, cheekside. “Like, sleeping medicine? Aushedhi? Medicine? Sleeping?”
After a moment of confused stares, the men conferred with each other in Nepali, and when the phrase “sleeping tablets” was used, I jumped in. “Yes, sleeping tablets. Sleeping tablets, do you have those?”