In the past seven months I have swum to the depths of the ocean and climbed up amongst the clouds; I have gained many new friends, a lot of students, a couple of sisters and another Aunt and Uncle; I’ve found experiences to last a lifetime and and a new place to call home; I’ve spent countless hours in various airports and on many different planes and further hours lying in bed sick; I’ve shed countless tears of happiness and sadness and struggle; I’ve let my money flow freely buying gifts and souvenirs and I’ve eaten only dal baht or beans and ugali for the majority of my meals for days on end; I’ve stood in front of classes and hidden from rhinos; I’ve lived in a tiny room with thirteen people and in a five star hotel; I’ve been totally alone in a new place and I’ve been surrounded by loving and supporting friends; I’ve taken endless pictures, written hundreds of journal entries and gained an abundance of fond memories.
My gap year hasn’t been easy but the challenges have been what made it worth it. I sit here filling out college forms and all I can use for my answers are experiences I’ve had on my gap year. I’ve been able to gain a wide range of experience whether it be trekking or scuba diving or teaching or eating with my hands. I doubt anyone in my college has had to live with 12 other people, cook every meal without a fridge or an oven or any such appliance, use a hole in the ground as the one toilet while unconnected from any other place in the world. And you know what, I loved it!
I can say with confidence that my gap year has been the best year of my life. And all of it could not have been possible if it had not been for Carpe Diem Education. I signed up for the Latitudes program excited for the prospect of a whole year of travel and getting to know myself and other cultures but not really sure what I was getting myself into. I made my way through Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania with an AMAZING group of 13 people (with two awesome Overseas Educators) and, after stopping over at home, I put myself on a plane for Nepal where I taught English in the mountains with an organization called Trek to Teach. I learned how to have no personal space and also have a lot of personal space and time to myself. I learned how to effectively problem solve on my own. I learned how to cross the language and cultural boundaries. I learned how to remove myself from the world and focus on the moment and the place where I was. I learned to appreciate certain aspects of home (like food!). I learned how to deal with homesickness and I learned how to deal with coming home (when I didn’t necessarily want to leave). I learned how to make friends in only 4 days. I learned how work with others and work by myself. I learned so much about the world, about myself and about life.
And throughout all of this Carpe Diem was there by my side. My Overseas Educators on my East Africa semester were always there to talk and made it a point to check in often with all of us. They taught us how to independently travel and how to go about volunteering in an appropriate way. In the end I consider them amazing friends not just leaders.
On my Focused Volunteer Placement Carpe Diem made sure to check in with me and give me support if I needed it. They encouraged me to challenge myself and do a program that had a little more work than others and I am so grateful. They helped me find what I was looking for and were always there for questions.
I cannot express in words how thankful I am for Carpe Diem Education. They allowed me to expand my horizons and meet the most amazing people. I have loved my gap year and it is honestly thanks to them that it was so great. So for those considering a gap year I whole-heartedly suggest looking into Carpe Diem Education (and also to simply take the leap and take a gap year because it is so worth it). They have so many amazing options and have the most amazing employees.
Thanks Carpe Diem for everything!