Winterline might as well have been the newest edition to MTV's "Real World" series; one the could literally be titled "Real World: The World". Emotions ran high, credit card funds ran low, and love was in the air.
Still to this day, roughly 2-3 weeks after my gap year ended, I reminisce and think "There's no way that happened. There is NO WAY that any of that ACTUALLY happened"!
I never spent $20 on a video of myself bungee jumping from a cable car in Costa Rica, 500ft in the air, screaming notes so high and loud, they probably couldn't even be quantified by decibels.
I never ate chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 10 days straight in a small village in India, because I couldn't bare to swallow another grain of rice.
None of it felt real.
And yet, it is the realest and most genuine thing I have ever done in my 18 years of life. The experience was so valuable, and so fresh, it almost feels like the ONLY thing I have ever done in my 18 years of life.
I came into this program on a pedestal I had chiseled for myself- thinking I was above it all; thinking it was so cool and mature to not care about anyone or anything, and I learned really quickly that that is not a way to function. Apathy isn't cool. Apathy sucks, especially for the person constantly dishing it out. And yeah, I'm still young, still making mistakes, and still learning. But, I've finally gotten grasp on how to question the things around me and question the things inside of me.
And notice how I haven't mentioned once what the program's mission even is...because this program is so much more than that. It is so much more than just a "skill based program to teach young adults 100 skills, in 10 countries, over the course of 9 months".
It is a vessel for the ultimate sense of cultural immersion, the ultimate chance to be introspective, the ultimate way to travel, the ultimate way to figure out who you are and every facet of yourself-to get a closer glimpse at the imprint that you want to make in this world.
Now, I can get all oozy-gooey and say how omg i've changed blah blah blah my parents don't even recognize me blah blah blah i love myself now blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, but we all know that's gross.
So take it from me, a person who thinks that emotions and sappiness are creepy and who finds it all too easy to fervently despise people, places, and things.
I am so grateful for Winterline and find it hard to even sarcastically roll my eyes at the gap year experience they provided me.