Notes from 11/17/15 Packing Meeting


Opening video from Dr. Beels: The challenges of traffic in Kathmandu.

Take home message: the streets are very crowded, and traffic laws are more like traffic suggestions.  Recommendations: cross with a group, maintain eye-contact with drivers, and never move backwards.

What to bring to Nepal interim:

  1. Up to 50 pounds on Turkish Airlines. Try to bring things that are light and collapsible.
  2. Students should take only 1 checked suitcase (60”); this is easiest to carry around. Pack light and little, to leave room for hospital equipment.
  3. There will be laundry in Tansen, but it may take a few days to complete.
  4. WARM CLOTHING is a must. Layering is important.  Down jackets are recommended.
  5. Close-toed shoes are good for warmth, preferably ones that are easy to slip on/off. Slippers are also recommended.
  6. A small day pack/purse is highly recommended.
  7. For sun protection, bring adventure hats, sunscreen (zinc-based), sunglasses, water bottle (can fill with UV-purified water), light hiking shoes, socks (wool recommended), and a headlamp (petzel or black diamond recommended).
  8. Odds and ends: Bible, paper/pen, possibly computer/phone along with charger, converter plug, Kleenex (not available in Nepal)/bandanna, Iodine tincture, sleeping bag (possible, can rent, for around 30 degree weather), pillow (if needed), camera, safe place to carry passport/money (essential to prevent pick pocketing), musical instruments (to lead devotions/worship), small gifts related to Calvin (like t-shirts, Michigan calendar) and giveaways, small hand sanitizer, small face/hand towels, feminine hygiene products.

What not to bring

The official packing list.
The official packing list.
  1. Non-essential medications; Nepal medications can be cheaper than U.S., however there is a blockade which prevents some inflow of supplies to Nepal.
  2. Expensive jewelry.
  3. Toilet paper—widely available across Nepal.
  4. Large shampoo and soap-can buy locally or bring small hand sanitizer.
  5. Alcohol (for consumption). Drinking is highly frowned upon by the Nepali Christian Church.  No alcohol may be consumed during the trip, especially in Tansen.
  6. Towels—they are usually available.


  1. Bring around 2 pairs of pants, 4-5 shirts, undergarments.
  2. Packing list was provided by Prof. Sinniah; he will later provide strategies for managing jet lag.
  3. Grace volunteered to be a clothing consultant.
  4. When on the ward, jeans are not permitted. In the hospital, women are dress very modestly.
  5. There may be snow—be prepared.
  6. Nepali medication is sold at pharmacy without prescription.
  7. There are a 500 steps that we will need to climb in Tansen. The mountainous terrain requires a large amount of climbing when walking.
  8. To counteract jet lag, we are flying eastward, so shift bedtime 1-2 hours early, Prof. Sinniah will supply melatonin.
  9. To purchase trinkets, souvenirs, don’t use credit cards (they don’t work in Nepal). Bring US dollars.  Recommended to bring cash–$100-200 dollars, clean and unmarked bills, to exchange in the airport.  There are a few ATMs in Kathmandu, Tansen and Pokhara, but they are not guaranteed to work.
  10. Dressing for church is fairly casual.

For students to do (later):

Online visa program needs to be completed within 15 days of departure, money will be handled by Calvin, digital picture-homemade attached to an email, but also get a hard copy of the photo.  Address is on the packing handout.

Notes on Current Nepali Situation

Borders are closed, limiting supplies entrance to Nepal.  New constitution, issue of ethnic division, and India-Nepal conflicts, all contribute to issues of instability in the country.  Country has not collapsed, but there is limitations within the country.  Please keep this in prayer.  Recommendation from Dr. Beels: Pray regularly and diligently.

Meeting with Kashyap, a Nepali Calvin Student

On November 2, 2015, the Nepal team was blessed with the opportunity to hear from Kashyap (Kash), a Nepali Calvin student, on a variety of topics, including culture shock, common greetings, food and more.

Kash took time out of his busy engineering schedule to tell us about the differences he noticed when he came to the US. These included:

  • How big the US is
  • How we talk to strangers

In Nepal, people normally just pass by without saying hello or acknowledging one another.

  • Hugging or showing public displays of affection to the opposite gender

In Nepal, it is considered offensive for an unmarried man to hug a married woman.  Although uncommon, it is generally considered okay if two unmarried people of opposite genders hug if they are of the same age.

  • Drinking water out of the tap

In Kathmandu, it is most definitely not okay to drink water directly out of a tap!

  • We drive on the other side of the road
  • How informal Americans are

In Nepal, it is considered appropriate to refer to professors or other people of respect as Sir or Ma’am, but here it’s (sometimes) okay to say “What’s up, Prof?”

  • The jetlag will be difficult to adjust to

He recommended adjusting to the Nepal time zone immediately, even if it means staying up all day.

  • The infrastructure is much different

Kash reminded us that Nepal is a third world country and there isn’t heat, air conditioning or facilities that meet first world standards.

Kash also spent time telling us important things that he thinks we should be prepared for when we travel in January.

  • We will have difficulty communicating – and it’s okay
  • There is a high amount of pollution in Kathmandu – a mask is a must
  • Nepalese people are not punctual
  • People are going to stare at our large group of Americans
  • There isn’t a lot of privacy or personal space
  • Nepalese people will either be eager or reluctant to talk to us
  • Nepal can have crazy slow internet or random power cutoffs
  • Nepal is currently in a transition state, as in new political leadership, so strikes may be apparent (strikes may include: store closings, no vehicles going or entire areas closed)
  • The travel to and within Nepal may be tiring, especially because of the hills

Finally, Kash gave us a few suggestions for making the most out of our time in Nepal. This list includes:

  • Learning to say a few things in Nepalese, mainly greetings and common phrases, because the people will love our accents

“What’s up?” — k chha

“How are you?” — Tapai Sanchai Hunuhunchha

  • Be open minded & don’t make quick decisions about people
  • Try new foods!

Kash recommends momos, which are a type of dumpling.  Other common foods include rice, lentils, curries, but there is no beef.

  • Go with the flow in all situations
  • Bring glow sticks (to give as gifts but need to check with the airline)

Kash remembers as a child that some visitors from the US brought glow sticks and they were one of the coolest things he ever received!

Other Random Topics Discussed at the Meeting:

Music – Kathmandu sometimes listens to American Music (Professor Sinniah was especially happy that Taylor Swift would be appropriate!)

Kash estimates that 60-70% of us will want to go back, while Dr. Beels estimates 94% will want to go back. Very specific, Dr. Beels!

Thanks for reading our latest blog post, and please continue to keep our team in your prayers as we prepare for our journey abroad, as well as while we are there.  Please pray that the blockade of goods and fuel from India will be resolved as soon as possible.  God Bless!