I really, really enjoyed my semester in Central America (Guatemala and Nicaragua) with Where There Be Dragons. I actually decided to return to Central America withDragon's internship program, which was also a great experience!
During the Central America semester, we lived in home-stays, worked with local community organizers, and went to language school. One of my favorite highlights of the program was my time spent with my home-stay families. I was nervous going into the program about living with families, but it is such a special and uniques experience. I immediately felt a part of the family and was included in all activities. I think it is one of the best ways to gain insight about the country and also the best way to improve your spanish. I am still in touch with one of my families today--we talk by phone every couple of months.
The instructors are awesome. They are super supportive and caring and overall, just great people who love what they do. My group experience was also great! We all become close friends by the end and still keep in touch today. Even tough we mostly lived in separate home-stays, there was still plenty of time for group bonding as we would spend all day working together and had some free time on the weekends to explore in nearby cities.
I felt pushed out of my comfort zone many times throughout the trip, but in a good way. I felt myself being challenged, which made me feel stronger and more confident about myself, and my beliefs.
I could talk about my gap year for hours. I am now a junior in college and took a gap year right after high school (Fall 2011 and Spring 2012) and I am still so glad that I did. I really valued my time abroad and it shifted my interests as to what I wanted to study in college. If you're thinking about taking a gap year--do it!! One of the best decisions i've made!