When staying in a foreign country for an extended period of time, it is important for a person to fully immerse oneself in the culture. The ability to experience cultural immersion can be a useful skill. When one can truly immerse themselves into another culture, it makes it easier to connect and understand the people in that culture and gain more practical knowledge. It can also make your stay more comfortable and enjoyable. GAPNepal has a simple model to help the participants experience full cultural immersion.
When you first arrive to Nepal, you will have a period to adjust. Nepal is quite different from other countries, especially those in the Western world. Participants will be given a broad introduction to the Nepalese social system. This includes an explanation of the pros and cons of the both the social system and the common practices found in Nepal.
Once you’ve been introduced to the country, hopefully you will be more open to the other aspect of the culture and ready to enjoy the full Nepal experience!
Integration is about moving you, the participant, into the culture. This can be achieved through experiencing traditional Nepali food – including learning how to cook some of it – and learning some simple Nepali words and phrases. It’s also suggested to participants to try and experience the common Nepali fashion. Experiencing the culture is different from simply reading or learning about it in some way, and can help increase your understanding and acceptance of the cultural practices. The homestay is an important aspect of this integration, as it allows for more opportunities to experience and participate in the Nepali culture.
Once the integration has begun, from there it is a seamless transition into full immersion. Once you begin integrating yourself into your homestay, you will eventually see a change in yourself. There comes a point where you will simply start to follow the traditions in the home without needing to be reminded of them. You will start using simple words and phrases in your everyday conversations. You will not question when people act a certain way. The Nepalese people are very open and welcoming, and once you can see and recognize that and understand that they are more than willing to share not only their culture, but their homes and their lives with you – and once you are able to do the same – you will be able to fully immerse yourself in Nepal and Nepali culture and enhance your experience(s) here!
It is important for you to remember that full immersion can take time, and trying to rush your understanding can be detrimental to that understanding. Take your time and go at your own pace. There are many differences between Nepal and other countries, and culture shock can take a little time to get over; there may be times when you feel some dissonance between what you are used to and what you are actively experiencing, and that’s okay! Take as much time as you need; the important thing is that there comes to be a mutual understanding between you, the participant, and the host country. The speed at which this understanding is reached is not critical to the understanding itself.
Final Note to the Participant
Any participants who feel that they have fully experienced and benefited from the full cultural immersion experience are encouraged to share their experiences with the Cultural Immersion team to help assist future participants with the experience!