Meeting with Professor Fynewever

October 22nd, 2015

Professor Fynewever with Nepali students
Professor Fynewever with Nepali students

This past Tuesday, the Nepal team met with Professor Fynewever of the Calvin chemistry department.  Professor Fynewever and his family lived in Nepal between January and August of 2015 on a Fulbright Fellowship.  He had a lot of great insights for us!
These are the topics we discussed:

  • How to dress warmly and with acceptable modesty

We talked a lot about wearing layers, especially upon arrival.  The weather in Nepal varies during the day with a high around 60 deg F and around 36-40 deg F at night time.

  • Nepali Greetings

Namaste is the usual greeting, sometimes accompanied by a slight bow.  Namascar is a greeting used when talking to a respected person. Finally, Jiya Masse is used when greeting a Christian.

  • What to expect for toilets

As funny as this topic sounds, this was very helpful. The general rule is to BYOTP (bring your own toilet paper) when you use the restroom.

  • What to do about drinking water

The tap water isn’t safe to drink in Nepal, but boiled water beverages like coffee and tea are perfectly fine.

  • What is not safe to eat 

Because the tap water isn’t safe, washed foods like fresh vegetables, fruits and salads aren’t safe to eat. Foods that have been cooked or peeled are okay!

  • What to do about air pollution

Because the air quality isn’t great in Nepal and we aren’t accustomed to it, Professor Fynewever recommended dust masks if we are sensitive to air pollution in Kathmandu.  However, since we will be mostly in Tansen, this should not be a problem.

  • Cultural expectations for physical space and physical contact

Personal space is vanishingly small. Public display of romantic affection isn’t done, but public display of friendship through physical touch is very common (i.e. holding hands).

  • How to get a SIM card for your phone and to call the US

Although we will have internet (most of the time) while in Nepal, there is a way to get a SIM card for a phone. All that is needed is an unlocked phone, a passport size photo, an address, and 150 NRs (which is the equivalent to $1.50).

  • How to charge your devices and what to expect about load shedding and internet speeds

The internet will be slow sometimes, but it’s very common. Electricity outages could happen and internet will be lost in that case.

We also talked about the vaccines needed for traveling to Nepal, which are listed by the CDC. In essence, we need to be up to date on all routine vaccines, have a flu shot, Hepatitis A and typhoid. There are a few more shots that can be helpful, but aren’t required.

Finally, we talked about things to take along with us when we travel. This list included things like small token gifts for kids, like beanie babies and things that represent where we’re from, as well as anything we might crave while abroad (gum, chocolates, pizza… hmm no pizza).

For all our blog followers, we’d also like to inform you that we have a list of people we are praying for that are currently living in Nepal. This list includes:

  • Troy & Faith Bierma
  • Arbin & Bimala Pokharel
  • Bipin & Sara Dungana
  • Suman & Maya Rawat

We’d like to ask our families and friends for continued prayers for our group as we prepare to travel across the world. Thanks for all of your support and God Bless.