If the usual path taken from high school straight to college doesn’t seem sensible to you, believe me, you are not alone.Read More
I urge you to take a bridge year, and not a gap year. Bridge that gap between high-school and college with an education that not only benefits you, but benefits the communities you will visitRead More
I came to realize that there is a myriad of things, apart from college experience, that shape us into who we are. It is the books we read, circumstances we overcome, people we love, moments of hesitation we experience, and roads we travel.Read More
Larissa Diaz is a Global Citizen Year fellow. Here, she shares her bridge year story.
Yes it is true, the road less traveled is hard to walk. So often the unpaved roads are the paths that we may not want, but certainly become the ones we need, and because of that the experience is not only worth it, but becomes a road you would choose to take all over again.
My senior year of high school, I was involved in so many different local organizations, projects and was doing many presentations on local issues. I was on top of my classes and made sure I did all my work and all my projects on time.
In the beginning of my senior year of high school, I thought I was supposed to know what I wanted to study, who I wanted to be and I thought I was supposed to have it all together after I turned 18 years old.
The truth is, I did not feel that way at all. I felt scared and nervous that perhaps I had done something wrong and maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough. I began to take on more work and volunteering at more places thinking perhaps all I had to do was work harder and try harder. It felt like it was really working at first, but soon the lack of rest caused to me to get really sick.
Juggling everything from school to extracurricular activities and family responsibilities made it impossible for me to stop and focus on my well being and myself. I began to feel very overwhelmed and began to dislike the work I was involved in. I lost my love for learning and was really concerned about feeling so lost and exhausted with no clue of what I wanted to do in my future.
One day, I was having such a rough time. It had been raining all day and the wind that was blowing was freezing. As I sat at the bus stop waiting to go home, I looked down at my clothes and noticed how damp they were and how cold my feet were in my wet shoes and socks. I was thinking about how I would have to rush home and quickly change in order to make it to a meeting I had shortly after school, but for some reason in that moment of feeling so cold and tired, I finally admitted that my method of “trying to get my life together” was really making me fall apart.
I didn’t go to the meeting that day and instead really sat with myself and thought about what I could be doing wrong.
As I was contemplating this question I noticed that it was not just me who was exhausted and over working herself. My other classmates were doing the same, thinking that it was normal to overwork yourself so much that most mornings we depended on highly caffeinated drinks just to stay alert in classes. We were made to believe that this was normal, and that this was the way you get into your dream college and go on to pursue your dream job.
Honestly, the whole method was a nightmare. And dream college? How could I think of a dream college when I was too exhausted to even think of the next day, let alone my future, and also still did not know what I wanted to do.
Shortly thereafter, I was on field trip with my principal and other students. While my principal went around asking everyone what they wanted to do after college, I dreaded the moment I would have to answer and admit “I don’t know”. When the question eventually came to me, I stayed quiet for a bit not wanting to be labeled that student who was “lost."
Surprisingly, when I said I was not sure of what I wanted to do my principal understood and encouraged me not to rush into a career or study in college. He gave me multiple ideas of what I could possibly do instead of heading straight into college feeling overwhelmed and unsure. He mentioned the daring idea of taking a gap year and going abroad. Hearing how it would open my mind, give me a whole new perspective on life and myself, and give me time to focus on myself, made me fall in love with the idea of taking a gap year.
After that conversation, I was very grateful that he had shared this idea and recommended Global Citizen Year to me. I knew it was not something students normally do after graduating high school, but then again I had never been very normal. When I spoke of the idea with my parents I was so happy and grateful that they supported my idea and, if anything, thought it would be a wonderful experience for me.
This idea of taking a gap year finally felt right and I was relieved to have found this amazing opportunity. I know what it is like to be exhausted and unsure of your future, and sadly that is many high school students today, but luckily there are amazing programs such as Global Citizen Year that is breaking that linear chain and helping students find their passions and also find their love for learning again.
As I type this I am heading to Quito, Ecuador to start my gap year journey, and I could not be more excited and more eager to face the unknown of my year to come. I know this is where I need to be, and I feel so blessed to have this opportunity and to also have all the amazing support from friends and family back home.
It is time to break the linear path to college and our futures and embrace the reality of the messy ups and downs life has to offer that create the most beautiful experiences and memories. I know there will be good and bad days, but I know that without the bad I could not appreciate the good and without the good I could not learn from the bad. This is why I deferred from college.
Rien Fertel is a historian and author originally from Lafayette, LA. In 2012, he hit the road with photographer Denny Culbert to capture the essence of BBQ in the south. Now, he’s turned that research into a new book, recently released by Simon + Schuster, called "The One True Barbecue: Fire, Smoke, and the Pitmasters Who Cook The Whole Hog."
At 18, Matt Redman took a gap year to focus on one of his largest passions: alpine skiing. While living on the mountain, he formed memories and learned lessons that still stick with him today.
Now, he looks to recreate those feelings and learnings as Global High School and Teach Abroad Director with CIEE (The Nonprofit Council on International Education Exchange).Read More
Abria Mattina and Dan Fachin live in Ottawa, Ontario, and for the last year, they’ve taken some great strides to make their dreams come true. After realizing that the schedule around their corporate jobs wasn’t going to allow them to write and publish a novel, they quit. But that’s not it.Read More
I spent my last semester of college studying in Istanbul, and instantly fell in love with the city. I explored the myriad boroughs, sipped on Turkish çay (tea), and often sat along the Bosphorous river, feet dangling like a small boy, gazing out across the expanse between Europe and Asia (the river divides the two).Read More
Abby Falik is the founder of Global Citizen Year, a company with lofty goals to build the next generation of global leaders through their innovative bridge year program. Abby says she’s had the idea for Global Citizen Year since high school, but she’s still taken plenty of twists and turns in her journey.Read More
Istanbul seemingly never, ever ends. Even beyond where my vision stops, I know high rises continue to puncture and swallow the horizon, towers sending strong signals to the rural poor as they flock to the gravity of a better life.Read More
In this episode, I chat with Alexander Harik who left the corporate finance world to become a food entrepreneur. We talk about the characteristics Alexander thinks are important to cultivating an entrepreneurial spirit and how his upbringing helped develop these traits.Read More
Declan WIlson runs the blog MillennialType.com, just published a book, works a full-time job and is married with a baby. The struggle to get it all done is real.Read More
Last week, Erin talked about how she decided to visit Zambia on her gap year. Here's what she did while she was there and what surprised her during her time away.Read More
When Erin started researching colleges, she couldn't bring herself to get invited. So instead of forcing it, she looked into other options, which led to a gap year in Zambia.Read More
Jordan traveled to Senegal and lived with a host family during his gap year. Here's what he learned - and what surprised him - during his time "on."Read More
When Jordan found out that he could get 85% of his gap year paid for through Global Citizen Year, he packed his bags and headed for West Africa to improve his French-speaking skills.Read More
Ever wished you could find out what other students at your school or in your city took a gap year? Now you can.Read More
India is an incredible place. But all those stories you've been told about it? That's only one piece of the real India.Read More