Deciding to take a gap year after high school or during college is a big decision! That’s why we asked some of our gap semester program and Latitudes year alumni to share their experiences with you.
Introducing…Alex, Emily, and Patrick!
CDE: Hi, everyone! Let’s start with an easy question. In which gap program did you participate?
Alex: Latitudes Year: South Pacific group semester, and FVP in San Miguel, Mexico.
Emily: India group semester program.
Patrick: I participated in the South America Program to Ecuador and Peru.
CDE: A lot of students wonder what to do during a gap year. Can you talk about your Carpe Diem experience and share a favorite memory?
Alex: Honestly, I can’t choose just one favorite part. Through this program I loved learning new cultures, talking with the locals and hearing their stories. I also enjoyed exploring and eating different foods.
Emily: My favorite part of my Carpe experience was definitely my first semester in India. It was so incredible to see the insane and beautiful country. There were so many challenges and so many highlights that all of it just seems like a magical experience now.
Patrick: My favorite part of my Carpe Diem experience was salsa dancing! I learned in Baños, Ecuador from my host mom. After that it was a serious love affair. Dancing with others in my group in Baños, Quito, and many times in Cusco. During free time in the city, the whole group would go to internet cafes and when the others in my group were talking with family or friends, I was watching salsa videos! I love it all – dancing, listening or watching.
CDE: What have you been up to since taking a gap year?
Alex: I lived in Hong Kong for two years where I taught english. This opportunity allowed me to travel around different countries in Asia. Over the last couple years I have visited 30 countries, 20 states and 5 continents.
Emily: After being in India, I realized that the only reason I was going to college was because I was “supposed to.” I decided that that wasn’t a good enough reason and I knew I wouldn’t be as happy as I could be. After volunteering in Peru, I flew right to Paris to travel around Europe. I know that the more I travel, the more I challenge myself, the more I learn about the world, the happier I will be. Travel is the one thing I am sure of, and now I know that it is okay to do what I actually love and what actually makes me come alive, even if it outside of the box.
Patrick: My plans are to start my first year at San Diego State University where I will essentially go in as a Sophomore because of the classes I took with Portland State University during my semesters abroad with Carpe Diem.
CDE: To wrap up, how would you answer the question “should I take a gap year?”
Alex: Some days are harder than others but use your leaders as support. They quickly become big siblings to you. If this will be your first time traveling alone, bring something from home that is small. When you travel don’t leave your heart at home, bring your heart in the place that you are traveling too. I am saying have an open heart and don’t close it. If you have an open heart you will experience something amazing.
Emily: Choose a place that will push you outside of your comfort zone, even if it may not be your first choice. Choose India if you aren’t sure of where to go, you won’t be disappointed. Take every day one step at a time, work to improve yourself, be open to new cultures, be open to change, be okay with being uncomfortable, and most importantly: be open to dropping everything you thought you knew you wanted, because you might find that there is something out there that is greater.
Patrick: Do NOT miss out on this opportunity! Do it! You wont regret it! It will be the best experience of your life! What is there to lose?
Looking for Gap Year Options?
Anne is the Executive Director of Enrollment and Operations at Carpe Diem. When she’s not supporting students on their gap year journeys, she stays busy with her own travels (near and far), cooking, enjoying live music and hanging out with her backyard chickens.