Category Archives: Missions

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!

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.