I met Santosh Kunwar on a beautiful November day when the rain has taken a break for a few hours, and the sun is shining. Santosh moved from Nepal to Stavanger in August this year to study a master programme in Business Administration.
Tekst og foto: Isabelle Kongshaug
Facts about Nepal
Population: 26,5 million
Area: 147.000 km2
Main religion: Hinduism
Where do you come from, and can you tell us about your hometown?
I’ve spent most of my life in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. It’s a vibrant city with a lot of things happening. Kathmandu is a metropole with approximately 2,5 million people. I would describe it as a mix where the village meets the city. You have the old parts with traditional markets and trading, and the modern shopping areas. The city has a lot of historical monuments and temples. People in Kathmandu are very laid back, not so much in a hurry all the time. I like my hometown very much, it was fun growing up there.
Why did you choose to come to Stavanger to study?
I wanted to do my master in Business Administration, and I knew that the quality of education in Norway is good. Studying here in Stavanger will provide me with new perspectives and insights, especially since I’m interested in energy systems. It’s been an awesome experience so far, I’ve lived here for four month now. I’ve met so many different people from all over the world. Stavanger is very beautiful, and there are so many opportunities for hiking around the area. The city center is vibrant, especially during the weekend. And the best thing is that the library is such a cosy place for studying!
What traditions and holidays do you celebrate in Nepal?
Nepal has a wide diversity in culture and ethnicity, and there are many holidays and traditions being celebrated in the country, most of them related to Hinduism or Buddhism. An important Hindu tradition is dashain, a fifteen-day long festival celebrating the victory of truth and good over evil. Another festival is tihar, also a Hindu celebration. Most of the holidays celebrate and worship the gods and goddesses.
Can you share some music originating from Nepal?
There are many different ethnic groups with their own ethnic music and unique instruments. The folk music in Nepal is called dohori, and is performed like a conversation between boys and girls. It’s very popular, and people sing and dance the whole night when there’s a dohori event. Some bands playing traditional music is Kutumba and Sur Sudha, and a very famous artist is Narayan Gopal. His songs are very sentimental and all generations like him! Then of course we have influences from western music and genres like pop, rock and hip hop. In Nepal, you can find many Beatles fans!
What places and experiences would you recommend for someone travelling to Nepal?
That of course depends on the interests of the person travelling. Nepal offers a lot of adventures, hiking and sports, as well as cultural sites. Personality I would like to fulfil the famous Perfect Circle (Annapurna Circuit) – a hiking adventure that takes about 15-18 days to do. Another nice destination is the Rara Lake, which is the biggest and deepest freshwater lake in the Nepal Himalayas. If you want to try some typical Nepal dish I would recommend momo (dumplings) or dhindo (rice pudding) with spicy chicken soup.
What are the biggest cultural differences between living in Nepal and living in Norway?
The way of life is different. Everything is more systematic here, back home it’s a bit chaotic. Also, the fact that people here don’t have conversations with strangers is a bit unusual for me. It’s such a nice thing talking to people you don’t know, it makes you broaden your perspectives and learn new things.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I want to go back to Nepal when I’m done with my studies here in Stavanger. There are a lot of problems in my country, such as lack of education and an economy that’s not good enough. Due to that, many people leave the country to go abroad to study or to work. But that can be a problem, if many well-educated people leave and don’t come back. Nepal needs people who can contribute to the country and help developing it. If people who travel abroad instead chose to go back, they can bring experiences and new knowledge. That’s what I want to do. Even if I can only make a small contribution, that’s still something. I think we should focus on education, because educated people can make a change. And energy. I think Nepal has good opportunities for hydroelectricity. We could use that. That would be a good sector.
Learn some Nepali
Hi > Namaste > नमस्ते !
How are you? > Tapai lai kasto cha? > तँपाईलाई कस्तो छ ?
I’m fine > Ma lai thikai cha > मलाई ठिकै छ ।
Thank you > Dhanyabadh > धन्यवाद् !
See you later > Feri Vetaunla > फेरि भेटौँला !
My name is… > Mero naam…ho > मेरो नाम ……. हो ।