3 Gap Year StoriesJune 03, 2014
A gap year can be defined as a break from the professional world to pursue other interests. Often, this term is associated with volunteerism. Although intimidating, a gap year can provide an abundance of attitudes, skills, and knowledge that can help an individual excel once returning to the professional world. Here highlighted are three brave young women who took a gap year after high school, before college, and the advantages they gained from the experience.
Callie Orsini (University of Georgia)- For Callie’s gap year, she traveled to Central America. She ventured to Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Honduras. During the day she attended Spanish school and was immersed in the local culture. Often, she volunteered with various organizations in the region.
Sarah Rosen (University of North Florida)- Sarah divided her gap year in two. First, she traveled to Arusha, Tanzania where she volunteered at a day orphanage, teaching math and English. She would sometimes visit another orphanage at night to play and help with homework. She helped sponsor one of her students to attend private school before her time in Tanzania was done. Then, Sarah went to Costa Rica for another four months where she worked on a turtle conservation project, taught English to adults, and helped farmers develop their agriculture through various tasks like building chicken and pig coops.
Gina Hatchett (Western Kentucky University)- For most of her gap year, Gina was based in Vajta, Hungary, a small village outside of Budapest. Gina also did Mission work in nearby countries including Slovenia, Austria, Serbia, Romania, and Italy. She did various jobs while volunteering and interning abroad like cleaning, visiting mental hospitals, and teaching at Vacation Bible School for gypsy children.
All three women were empowered by the time they spent abroad; their confidence tremendously increased. Callie and Gina talked about budgeting money for the first time, a valuable skill most do not learn until after their college years.
Taking a year off of school made these ladies better students at their respective institutions. These women went to college with a unique experience most of their classmates did not have. Gina mentions that most of her professors are intrigued by her year in Hungary and take more interest in her. Sarah became a Spanish major after learning so much of the language from her time in Costa Rica. Callie and Sarah both stated that their grades significantly improved after their gap year. Callie made the Dean’s List her first semester. Sarah commented that high school was a struggle, but after her gap year, anything below a B in college is unacceptable. She said seeing people sacrifice everything for an education helped her see her educational opportunities in a new light.
Their gap year inspired and helped them to obtain campus positions and to join various organizations. Sarah competed against graduate students for the position of Volunteer Coordinator at her school. Due to Sarah’s unique experience, she was given the job as a freshman over the graduate students applying. Gina joined various organizations and balanced a challenging workload, claiming she already found herself in her gap year; she didn’t need to waste any time.
They all had different reasons to go abroad for a year. Callie said she was not excited about college, and a gap year reinvigorated her passion to learn. Sarah couldn’t wait to travel and experience a new culture. Gina wasn’t financial ready to commit to university. Gina said she sometimes still struggles with being a year behind all her friends in school, but she stands by her decision to take a year off. Callie commented she thought being a year behind her friends would make her feel like she was missing out, but this did not happen. Overall, none of them regret taking a gap year, and they believe they are all better for it.