Questions from Mind the Gap
What did you do during your gap year?
I lived in the rainforest in Ecuador with a Kichwa family that had a community tourist project. I was helping with the project, which extended to simply helping the family any way they wanted. Sometimes that meant working on the chakra (aka farm). Other times that meant getting an official license from the government to do community tourism. Other times that meant taking care of the kids. It is hard to describe exactly what I did, but I am incredibly thankful I had the opportunity.
What program facilitated your year abroad, or did you take an independent year off?
Global Citizen Year.
How did your experiences and/or the lessons you learned during your year help you in your transition to, and life at Carleton?
I learned that life is more than what people tell you to do: YOU are in control of your life, and YOU are the one that makes it meaningful. If that means taking only two classes in a term so that you can do work you’re really passionate about in Northfield, you do that. If that means skipping an extracurricular to do homework you’re really passionate about, you do that. If that means putting aside all responsibilities to have a really good conversation with a friend, you better believe you are going to do that. Carleton can be a very structured environment, but taking a year off between high school and college has meant that I know how I can shape my life here to make it meaningful.
What suggestions do you have for incoming freshman who are interested in taking a gap year?
Ask yourself: why do I want to take a year off? If it has anything to do with being burnt out, wanting to know yourself better, wanting to know life better, do it! The finances can be tricky, but you can make it work, whether that means working before/during your year, doing a program with generous scholarships, or fundraising. Taking a year off takes initiative, and it’s scary and hard, but that’s true about every meaningful experience in your life.