Student - March 7, 2019

Riding pillion through Kathmandu

Eva van der Graaf

Who? Christa van Oorschot (20), BSc student of International Land and Water Management
What? Internship at Nepal Engineering College
Where? Kathmandu, Nepal

What I did in Nepal was like an internship and research rolled into one. I did a study on the correlation between women’s voice in irrigation management and male out-migration. It’s common in Nepal for farmers to migrate from small villages to the big city or abroad to earn money. They then send money back to their families.

Interpreter and guide

On a normal working day, I went to the Engineering College, or I sat and worked in a café somewhere. I had accommodation in Kathmandu, but if I was on fieldwork, I often slept in guesthouses, lodges or in local homes. I always had my interpreter with me during field work, and he was my guide as well. In the countryside people don’t speak English so much. The women I interviewed responded to me quite positively. People are often eager to tell you things, and my interpreter was very chatty. It was always surprising how much we were told.

But I did have some strange experiences. On day we came into a little village somewhere where the schoolchildren were dancing to music out of doors. As soon as they saw me, they ran to me and wanted a photo. As soon as the photo was taken, they ran back again. That evening, in the same village, we were having dinner with our hostess, who was actually only two years older than me. She had made some tasty dishes, but also some things that weren’t so nice. Like deep-fried fish that they ate whole, skull and all. And snails. That’s a real delicacy there, so I just pretended to enjoy it.

Getting to know people

I lived near two other Dutch students. I already knew one of them from Wageningen. We often ate and went out together. I enjoyed having people nearby that I could talk to about my research. And together you get to know a lot more people. We’d be going somewhere and a friend would bring along another friend of theirs.

There is lots to do in Kathmandu. It’s a really big city. I rode pillion on motorbikes a lot. They’ve got an app in Nepal that’s a bit like Uber, but just for motorbikes and scooters. You can just say where you are and someone picks you up. That gives you a lot of freedom.

I also did a trek in Pokhara with a friend. We met some other people en route and walked on together.