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Two Deakin students on Study Abroad trip to Nepal with local woman

20 February 2020

Rachel and Emma’s life-changing Deakin Abroad adventure

Have you considered studying overseas as part of your degree? Deakin students Rachel Grant and Emma Knowles recently did just that, travelling to Kathmandu, Nepal for a two-week trip organised by the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment. During their time in Nepal, the group worked with and learnt about a range of local social organisations.

In a trip full of incredible moments, a few experiences stood out. Rachel and Emma tell us what they remember most from their Deakin Abroad adventure and why the program is such an amazing opportunity for Deakin students.

Can you pick one highlight from the trip?

Rachel: Working with the women at Seven Women, which provides housing, education and employment to marginalised women in Nepal. We were blessed with the opportunity to meet and spend time with these lovely women throughout our stay. We took language, cooking and craft classes with them – a great chance to both learn about Nepali culture and practices, but also to empower the women by letting them use their skills to teach others.

Emma: Getting to know the Nepalese locals. Everyone was incredibly friendly, with warm welcomes of ‘Namaste’ to be heard everywhere we went. Spending time with the children at the Shree Kalika primary school laughing and playing games was such a bonding experience. It showed that you don’t need to speak the same language to be able to communicate and connect.

What was one moment that offered you a lesson you will apply to your future career?

Rachel: I learnt my most valued lessons from Anita, the director of Seven Women. She spoke to us about her life experience, including how she had gone from being an unemployed woman with no money to a director of a well-regarded company (something that is quite difficult in Nepali culture). She said that the ‘trick’ to success is building relationships, and that she does this by taking the time to get to know everyone who enters her life, regardless of their background.

I find that I often get so caught up in my daily life that I do not spend enough time appreciating the small things or getting to know the people around me, but I can now see that this is something that will help me to succeed both personally and professionally.

Emma: As nursing students, we are taught our care should be person-centered, meaning holistic care should encompass patient preferences, beliefs and spirituality. Having come from an agnostic background, I felt I had a superficial understanding of what this meant. One ‘lesson’ I took away from Nepal occurred at the Pashupatinath Hindu temple, where we witnessed traditional cremation ceremonies. Here, Buddhist and Hindu religions combine to form an incredibly spiritual and holy place. After death, the body is purified, cleaned and wrapped in white cloth before being placed on a stone block next to the Bagmati River to be burnt.

The process sounds morbid, but watching the love shown during this ceremony and learning the significance of the proceedings was incredibly peace-provoking. For me, this experience dissolved some of my cultural barriers and I was able to gain a deeper respect for individual values and beliefs, which I think will enhance my nursing practice.

Why should students do a Deakin Abroad program?

Rachel: There are two things that really differentiated this trip from a non-University travel experience. The first is that the itineraries are so carefully constructed and allow you to delve deep into local culture, in a safe and secure way. The second is that you are given the opportunity to meet a range of other students from varying backgrounds and disciplines, all of whom are travelling with the intention of learning and bettering themselves and their world around them.

Emma: A Study Abroad program is a financially aided chance for students to learn through immersing themselves in a different culture, and experience unique opportunities such as touring organisations like The Fred Hollows Foundation and Maiti Nepal. Students develop soft skills such as networking, teamwork and adaptability, while gaining an enriching experience that encourages personal growth, reflection and an appreciation for our own culture. My priorities were completely changed from this experience – I feel grounded and have learnt to appreciate interaction and connectedness, which I think has made me a better person.

Learn more about Deakin Abroad

There’s a range of Deakin Abroad programs on offer, including:

Find out more about Deakin Abroad, including costs and funding opportunities, info sessions and answers to frequently asked questions.

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