IEU Experience


A group of students recently went on a transformational trek through Nepal, scaling the Himalayas to the Annapurna Base Camp and learning invaluable lessons along the way.

It has made me a more open-minded person, more grateful for the wisdom and love of others, and aware of the magnitude of the world

Alfonso José Pérez López

At IE University, learning is more than just a theoretical exercise confined to the classroom. It’s an immersive, practical experience that combines intellectual exploration with hands-on projects and extracurricular activities that both provide a well-rounded education and holistically enrich our students’ growth in every important facet—academic, professional and personal.

That’s what students of the Bachelor in International Relations recently found out firsthand. In a trek through Nepal, they embarked on a unique journey of discovery, self-improvement and transformation. We caught up with two students, Seraphine Lesay and Alfonso José Pérez López, to hear about their experiences during the trip and how it changed their professional path for the better. 

Understanding the journey

The IE Transformational Leadership Journey is an unparalleled experience offered as part of the Bachelor in International Relations and its dual degree programs. Geared toward broadening our students’ global perspective, it’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity to apply their learnings to real-world challenges. Indeed, the overarching goal is self-actualization, helping them refine their practical skills, challenge their limits and learn new things about themselves in the process.   

This year, 26 students had the opportunity to go travel to Nepal for the Transformational Leadership Journey. This trekking trip took them across the Himalayas to the Annapurna Base Camp, at least 13,000 feet above sea level. Led by professor Edurne Pasabán and several local Sherpa guides, they learned about Nepali culture, economics and social development. 

Against stunning natural scenery and a lush mountain backdrop, the group was also guided through a series of mental, physical and professional challenges designed to push them past their comfort zones. Through these, they were able to strengthen their leadership and teamwork skills, gain valuable regional insights and, overall, grow immensely as individuals. 

Ready for transformation

Seraphine Lesay is in her second year of the Bachelor in International Relations. Originally from France, she decided to take the leap and participate in the “mind-blowing adventure with other IE University students” immersed in the vibrant life of the Himalayas. As someone who hadn’t visited Nepal before, she was eager to learn all about the country by “sharing traditional meals with the locals and learning bits of their language, religions and other cultural aspects of their daily life.” 

This trip has shown me the importance of mental strength, commitment and resistance.

Seraphine Lesay

On the other hand, second-year Alfonso Pérez, who studies the Dual Degree in Business Administration + International Relations, wanted to satisfy a long-held interest in the region. “I am the sort of person who finds it challenging to resist curiosity,” he says, adding, “The ancient cultures of Hinduism and Buddhism, together with the mists of the Himalayas, have long fascinated me.” So when he was finally eligible to join the Transformational Leadership Journey, he jumped right into the competitive process.  

However, for both of them, this was a chance to not only travel to a new place but to also test their limits, refine their worldview and discover new skills and insights that they could take with them to the professional world. 

Lessons from Nepal

I highly advise future students to embrace every opportunity that IE University has to offer.

Alfonso José Pérez López

“This trip has shown me the importance of mental strength, commitment and resistance,” Seraphine says—something that has transformed her outlook on resilience and perseverance. It’s also proven the value of collaboration and teamwork, not just in producing an excellent result but also in maintaining morale throughout the process. “It’s crazy to think how our mind can take over the physical struggles and pain, and how that motivation encouraged us not to give up, especially in a group setting. Supporting each other was key and made the difference on the last day of the trek when reaching the Annapurna Base Camp.” 

For Alfonso, it was an invaluable opportunity to get to the heart of Eastern cultures, which are often romanticized by the West. “The constant focus on the present has really stuck within me,” he admits. In particular, Alfonso reminisces on some advice he received from Tashi, one of the Sherpa guides on the trip: “Focusing on our current steps deters us from dwelling on the adversities of the future. It opens the gates to appreciating the beauty around you, even if a blinding snowstorm is striking you!”  

As he sees it, being able to introspect was a fantastic benefit of the trip; but more important are the competencies he developed along the way. “These skills will boost my productivity in the professional world, whilst helping me appreciate the small details in life in the overly stimulated world we live in.” He says it’s also made him a little more open-minded, grateful and slightly in awe of the enormity of our world. “On a side note, after learning about negotiation in one of our classes, we were able to put these skills to practice at the Thamel Market in Kathmandu,” he jokes.  

This trip will undoubtedly remain one of the most beautiful and vivid memories that IE University has offered me!

Seraphine Lesay 

Taking stock

Seraphine describes the trip as a “one-of-a-kind” trek toward the long-forgotten principles of success. “This journey proved to me how much our generation has forgotten perseverance. We have access to everything in a minute, thanks to Google or especially now with ChatGPT, and giving up when the answer is too difficult to get is part of the mechanisms we use far too often,” she posits. However, taking on a goal such as Annapurna reminded her of the importance of determination and ambition in the pursuit of a well-defined goal. “Without a doubt, the trip was hard but I will remember it my whole life.”

This trip will undoubtedly remain one of the most beautiful and vivid memories that IE University has offered me!

Seraphine Lesay