From the first time I saw the website, it gave me butterflies. I’d never experienced that kind of thing before. My parents wanted me to take a gap year and asked me to check out programs. It was the one that made me decide I had to take a gap year. I read all of the blog posts and looked at all of the pictures. I felt like it was the kind of thing that was once in a lifetime. I had to get in on it.
Tait is a student at Skidmore College in NY who enjoys skiing and sailing.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
The website is so thorough and they send you emails with the packing lists and everything which was really helpful. After you get accepted in, they send you all the information about your passport, vaccines, and paperwork. They were helpful when it came to me trying to figure out what kind of dive gear I needed and what clothes I should pack. In the end, all I did on my own was book flights.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Make sure that you bring enough clothes, especially underwear. This program makes you tougher and a better survivalist but once you start smelling yourself it can get rough. Pack a whole lot of underwear.
I think a winter hat was also good because it can get cold on the water. A comfy sweatshirt and sweatpants are super important. When you get wet and cold, which you will, they are awesome to slip into.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
It’s hard to describe the average week because so much goes on. The constants are watch, class, meals, and showers. Those things cycle around to give you a bit of normalcy but it’s always exciting. In the average week, you’ll have at least five unforgettable experiences. The once thing you can always look forward to is hard work. It takes a lot to be on the program and it isn’t always easy. You’ve got to have a really positive attitude.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I was scared of swimming in the open water.
I knew that we would have to jump in showers in the middle of the Mediterranean and I was scared of the open water. I got over my fear by just letting it go and going for it. I jumped in the Mediterranean with no land in sight and ended up having a great time splashing around with my friends. We did it all the time after that and I never remembered my fear.
What was the biggest life lesson you learned on the boat?
I learned that the way that you look at something can change everything about it. Life on the boat can be really hard. It’s tough to be away from your family experiencing new things all the time. But if you laugh easier and harder, smile more, and build other people up, everything will be better. I think it was a positive attitude that carried me through the experience.