March 7, 2006

A story for the ages (Part I)

The story of C and I is quite unique, one that will be fun to tell future generations someday. It's definitely one that not many people can copy, which is what makes it fun.

I started out my college years at Michigan State University, majoring in Agricultural Education. Pretty simply, I wanted to be a High School ag teacher. Yup, I am a dork. The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State has a couple of well known study abroad programs. At that time the two more popular trips were a summer break program to Australia and New Zealand and full semester program to Nepal. Most of my friends were interested in the Australia/New Zealand trip, but for some reason I was instantly drawn to the one in Nepal. I was fascinated by the pictures the professor would show in my World Agriculture class and I loved listening to Murari and Dr. Roberts talk about the trip. I decided that I would apply for the 1999 program.

It was a multidisciplinary trip so it was open to all students at MSU and encompassed all facets of Nepalese life. Any interested participants had to fill out applications and then go through an interview with the program coordinators. I was fortunate that two of the main coordinators knew me, as I had taken classes of theirs and had talked to them extensively about the trip. I found out shortly after my interview that I had quickly been accepted into the program. I was beside myself with excitement. My mom was thrilled to death about me going--I think she would have packed herself in my luggage to go with me if possible. My roommate and best friend was encouraging, although somewhat hesitant. My boyfriend, Kyle, appeared encouraging on the surface but I knew that deep down he didn't want me to go.

I should probably take a second to explain the boyfriend "situation" in a little more detail here, so it makes sense later on. Kyle and I had known each other since we were in High School through various school events. The first two years at MSU I was in a fairly serious relationship with another guy. Kyle would always tell me I needed to end the relationship so the two of us could go out. The beginning of my junior year we began dating and our relationship got serious quite quickly. At that time I could very easily see Kyle and I getting married after college. We casually talked about the idea while we dated. When we'd get married, where we'd live, etc. I knew that he was in more of a hurry than I was to make it official.

Preparations for the Nepal trip started early in fall semester of '98. Thirty-one students had been accepted to the program. We had language classes to help us prepare and we met periodically as a group to become more acquainted with one another. I knew a couple of people well, especially the girl who I would room with while there. Carrie and I were in the same major so we'd taken classes together already. Other than that, I didn't seem to mesh well with some of the others on the trip. Our interests seemed far too different from one another.

Mid-January '99 we embarked on a 28 hour flight, taking us from Detroit to Newark, Newark to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Singapore and then finally, Singapore to Kathmandu. We spent the first night in Kathmandu and were then quickly whisked away to the more laid-back community of Pokhara where we were introduced to our host families. The program coordinators had thought the students would gain more from the cultural immersion of living with families versus living in hostels. They were 100% correct about it too, we learned so much from the community we were in. We joked that we met on Monday and Tuesday we were loved like we'd been born into these households.

Our schedule was fairly simple--class 6 days a week, two lectures a day. We would spend most of our time in Pokhara but would take day trips to neighboring villages, week long trips to Kathmandu and Chitwan National Park and a trekking expedition in the Annapurnas.

The crossing of our paths shall come in the next installment...


Anonymous said...

This should be fun to hear again...
When I started reading it, I couldn't help but smile, remembering you tell it when you first got back. There was a new sparkle in your eyes that hadn't been there before and I knew you had found something (someone) special.. :)


Kristen said...

This makes you sound so worldly and cultured. I can't wait to read part 2. I keep meaning to write my story of how I met B, but this sure makes my story dull!