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My Sherpa culture has inspired me to be adventurous and study abroad

Column by Pema Sherpa, a University of Evansville student, Harlaxton College

The smell of roasted barley never fails to have me reminisce about previous Sherpa gatherings and the sound of a sharp metal arrowhead landing on a plain wooden surface reminds of the Manangey archery festival.

My name is Pema C. Sherpa and I am an international student from Nepal at the University of Evansville (UE) studying abroad at Harlaxton.

Harlaxton Manor. (20619982)
Harlaxton Manor. (20619982)

During my sophomore year of high school in America, I feared drifting away from my two Himalayan cultures that are a part of my identity. Therefore, passing down my grandpa’s mountain climbing experiences while jaws dropped around me, lending our traditional wear to my foreign friends, and calling them over to celebrate traditions were some measures I took to recall and spread my culture.

Being located in such an unfamiliar setting, so distant from my motherland, I gradually found solace in my identity, my cultures.

After returning back to Nepal, a year of escaping the aftershocks of the big 2015 earthquake, from New York, I found myself back in the United States for my Bachelor’s degree.

Being a part of the international community at UE was eye-opening! Some of the best parts of university life are meeting and learning about people from all types of backgrounds. As I was already studying abroad, approximately 7,815 miles away from home, another study abroad program was not quite something that I had in mind.

Through frequent hikes and pilgrimage tours back home, my Sherpa and Manangey cultures have inspired me into being this adventurous, bold person who loves travelling and thrilling experiences. Perhaps this was what propelled me to apply for the study programme at the Harlaxton College.

The whole experience has not been much different as it merely seems like a replay of my freshman year at UE. In fact, the school system seems more familiar as the education in Nepal is fairly similar to Britain’s, when it comes to using British English or having the ‘sorting into houses’ system.

Nevertheless, it has been quite fascinating spotting random Nepali restaurants and people actually knowing about my country, probably as a result of our Gurkhas having visited this land before.

Before entering the United Kingdom, I never knew potatoes could be cooked in so many different ways, never seen so many red phone booths, nor had I ever tried the Scottish delicacy haggis. I have also been able to enjoy wonderful meals and conversations with Barbara and Kevin Lawry, a local family, or should I say my new family in Grantham.

Yes, there have been hard times, when my laptop autocorrects ‘colour’ to ‘color’ or vice versa.

My mind cannot seem to conform to one style of English for daily purposes. You may even find the two different spellings for the same words used above (hint: starts with a ‘p’).

Nevertheless, these past two months have brought various opportunities exposing me to numerous cultures and ideas. Blessed to come across such diverse communities, I shall treasure these rich experiences while embracing my own diversity.

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