Going, Going, Gone

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Three weeks ago, I was getting my heart broken by mountaintops and waterfalls at the bottom of the world. I had the opportunity to take an immersion course last semester, “On the Road Travel Writing: Patagonia.” The course enabled me to better myself as a writer and travel out of the country for the first time. I fell back in love with writing, scribbling in a tiny red journal and was bitten by the travel bug whilst marveling at the glacial blues of Torres Del Paine. My entire perspective shifted.

I remember looking down at my sneakers and noticing how dirty they had gotten from the hikes. Peppered with dirt and mud, tiny pebbles were wedged within the grooves of the bottoms. I promised myself (and my dirty blue Asics) that I would continue to travel, that this would not be a one and done. Standing before the dreamy landscapes around me, I could not imagine never being this enamored with the world again.

Then I thought about when.

By the time I graduate from college, I will have been in school for more than a decade. The idea of diving straight into another four to eight years of school is daunting and makes me nervous that I will burn myself out and lose the glimmer in my eye bound with my big dreams. While I want to continue learning and pursue graduate school, I do not think it needs to happen as soon as I graduate from New England College. Suddenly, all I can think about is a gap year.

Photo courtesy of Eric Simon

Julia Rogers, a founder of EnRoute Consulting, a firm that provides students with gap-year support, who herself participated in two post-college gap years, impresses: “It’s a very American mindset to keep going and going and going,” Rogers says. “I call it the ‘conveyor belt mindset.’ The conveyor belt mindset is obtaining degree, after degree, after degree until getting a career. It is an invisible path that I blindly follow.”

From 2014 to 2015, the GYA (Gap Year Association) conducted the first nationwide study on how a gap year influenced students. Although the survey focused on students who had participated in a gap year before starting college, some of the data can still be applied to pre-grad-school students, especially in regard to the motivation behind wanting to take a gap year.

92% of the students who took a gap year cited a greater desire to obtain life experiences and personal growth; 85% wished to continue travel, explore the world, and experience other cultures; and 81% wanted a break from the traditional academic track.

I want all of that. I might not end up where I thought I was going, but I will get there when I am meant to. Asic sneakers and all.

 

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Nevada is a Senior at New England College majoring in Biology and minoring in Environmental Communications. This is her third year writing for The NewEnglander, mostly about the environment around her. In the future, Nevada wants to travel, pursue a career in Marine Biology and spend her life on or in the ocean.
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