Taking a GAP year!

Carolyn StewartBy Carolyn Stewart|10/04/2011|4 Minutes

Initially, the gap year concept was foreign to me. I am naturally an independent and adventurous person, which is how I ended up at boarding school in the first place. Nonetheless, I felt intimidated by the realness of the opportunity to “gap it.” Not go to college right away? What? No one does that.

After four straight years devoted to critical essays, history research papers and lab reports, I was exhausted. I yearned for time to myself; time to catch my breath, experience something fresh and put my academics into perspective. Yes, I was eager to attend college and begin the next chapter of my life; but the idea of diving into four more years of academics made me feel restless and resistant. I hankered for a new experience. I itched for something other than studying myself to sleep every night. I wanted to be challenged outside the classroom for once. Nonetheless, by pursuing the unconventional option of a gap year, my primary intention was not to postpone university or the “real world,” but instead to reenergize my mind in order to enhance my college performance.

So now that I’m into the first month of “gapping it,” I have quickly come to realize that I did not postpone the real world for a year; I’m actually experiencing the real world. I’m traveling the world, seeing it with open and, I admit, innocent eyes, exploring new cultures and meeting new people. I know some people do what I’ve chosen after they’ve completed college, and some do so at later points in their lives. Most people never have the chance or the means, and I know and appreciate that my journey is a lifetime opportunity that will help me be a more informed and well-rounded individual (as well as student) and an even stronger contributor when I do get back to my academic studies.

First stop is Italy. I’m interning for a textile company where I’m learning the ins and outs of a family-run business in Florence. At the same time, I’m taking intensive Italian language classes, living with a family, and exploring the Italian culture and people. Of course as an avid pasta lover I can’t complain about the meals! I’ll be here through the end of 2011. While I’m enjoying every moment, I’m busily planning next semester. (I still think of time in school terminology!) A month each in India, South Africa and China! So much more to see and do, and even in one year, I know I’m just scratching the surface on all there is to discover in this enormous world of ours.

I am appreciative of and grateful for this opportunity. Trust that no second of the day is wasted. When I enter the halls of Bucknell University in September 2012, Nicole Meyers will have evolved into a more globally knowledgeable person, and also a more thankfully appreciative person for all I will have learned.

written by Nicole Meyers, in Florence Italy