Kathmandu is Nepal’s capital city and largest urban area with over 3 million inhabitants. Nestled in the mighty Himalayas at an elevation of 1,400 meters, the city is a gateway of exploration for many adventurous travellers. As an intern abroad in Nepal, living and working everyday in Kathmandu. you will dig deeper than most ever do to discover a spiritual, hospitable, and rugged culture with a great love of life in every form.
Most internships in Kathmandu will be centered around social and community development. Since Nepal is a developing country, Kathmandu is also a magnet for interns interested in interning in the areas of public health, urban planning, education, and social empowerment. You will likely be given the opportunity to travel to local villages and engage in projects in a more rural environment during your internship in Kathmandu as well. Working hands-on with a community in need will not only be personally fulfilling, you will also gain relevant job experience applicable to development work all over the world.
Not all internships in Nepal are related to public service though. Kathmandu exists in a heavily isolated region, so there are also a variety of available internships oriented toward nature and wildlife preservation. For the environmental or zoological guru, interning abroad in Kathmandu can prove to be an ecological paradise of otherwise unknown terrain. Placements in multiple specialties of the medical field are also common, from dentistry and nursing, to HIV/AIDS Work.
Summer programs last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months and are popular options for interning abroad in Kathmandu. Many programs are also available year-round though. The weather is actually quite moderate throughout the year, so don’t let illusory visions of Himalayan snow storms impede your decision to intern abroad in Nepal during whatever time your schedule frees up.
Life in Kathmandu
If you have never travelled to a developing country than you are positioned to experience a healthy dose of culture shock upon interning in Nepal. While Kathmandu is the most industrialized city in the country, it still lacks many elements of an advanced infrastructure, which foreign interns may have previously taken for granted. Expect rough roads, flooding after erratic storms, and large insects. It’s all part of the growth curve. Plus squatting in an Eastern latrine will soon becomes second nature.
Nepal is a very religious country, primarily Hindu. As a result you will see many beautiful temples and experience a relatively conservative culture. But even so you will find a lively counterculture to be very much alive in the streets of Kathmandu. Traveller-friendly districts, such as Thamel, are a Hippie’s paradise with no shortage of offbeat bookshops, hemp-made products, and funky bazaars. There is also a fun nightlife scene with a plethora of reggae bars and regular live musical performances. Just don’t plan to stay out much past 11 p.m., as the city tends to shut things down relatively early.
You will receive a lot of attention as a foreigner in Kathmandu. Most locals are friendly and eager to befriend you. But in many of the notorious tourist areas you will be frequently accosted by overly-eager salesmen. If you are interested in what they have to offer, let the bargaining begin. If not then a polite “no thank you” will generally suffice.
Salary & Costs
Most internships in Kathmandu will be unpaid as they tend to take on a more volunteerist form. The upside though is that life in Kathmandu is incredibly cheap. Kathmandu is ranked in the top five most affordable cities in the world to live in, and so you will enjoy leading a relatively comfortable lifestyle while you are there. Many programs fees include the costs of room and board as well, so you need not worry about these additional costs. Check out GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory for more information on available financial assistance for internships in Nepal too.
Accommodation & Visas
Most intern abroad programs will help you to find accommodations in Kathmandu, and are viable to organize some sort of group living with other foreign interns as well. Homestays are a popular option too. Expect to be made comfortable but do not expect many Western luxuries to be made available. You will acclimate to living a simpler lifestyle in no time, and find it to be less stressful than the Western world in many ways.
A tourist visa for up to 90 days can easily be obtained upon arrival at the Kathmandu airport. Just carry enough cash on you to prevent wrestling with a Nepalese ATM from being your first experience abroad. For more specifics on the different types of visas required of foreign nationals, consult our Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Interning abroad in Kathmandu will open your eyes to a lot you did not know about the world. High in the Himalayas you will have a life-changing experience amidst a friendly, laid-back, and spiritual culture which will invite you in with open arms. And whatever reason brings you to Kathmandu in the first, you will undoubtedly come back down the mountain a new person entirely - a little older, a little wiser, and a lot more prepared to live and thrive happily in the wide world beyond.