A group of seventeen strangers got on a small plane and emerged as a community. It’s hard to imagine that that was eight days ago. Within those eight days, our small community of what the Bhutanese call “chilips” has become a tight-knit family, facing jet lag, learning about cultural differences, and taking in the beauty of the landscapes together. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that Bhutan has exceeded every expectation possible and opened our eyes to a country that many of my friends hadn’t even heard of.

Within the short time spent here, our group has seen so many breathtaking sights, learned about Buddhist culture and Bhutanese landscape, and laughed and smiled until our mouths were sore. Some highlights include seeing the largest Buddha statue in Bhutan (Buddha Dordenma), buying traditional dress (ghos and kiras) in the capital Thimpu, visiting the inside of a Buddhist temple and receiving a blessing, and appreciating the countless beautiful vistas that can be seen constantly.

On our first full day here, Khempo Tashi Phuntsho, a Buddhist monk, came to speak to us about Buddhism and the environment; his words blew us away. The themes of impermanence, generosity, compassion, and mindfulness make their way back into conversations in and out of the classroom.

Overall, my Bhutan experience has been eye opening in so many ways. Eight days of traveling across a beautiful country has been more visually, emotionally, and intellectually stimulating than any of my past experiences. I am thrilled to be a part of this diverse group of peers, undergoing a study abroad program that makes me excited to learn and feel present in each moment, and I cannot begin to imagine the upcoming adventures that face the group over the next month or so.