And so it begins…

Isabel Nardi - Ecuador


August 19, 2014

Only a few days lie between me and the start of my Global Citizen year. I would like to take you back to show you where my journey truly began. A few months ago I was lost. I felt out of place, I dreaded college talk, and I said the bare minimum when the topic arose. I took in the back seat and watched as my friends fell in love with schools, had the chance to apply to their dream colleges, and spent their spare time online shopping for dorm decor. At the time every part of me wanted to have those feelings, I craved them. However, they were not there nor were they coming any time soon.

Then, somebody or something introduced the idea of taking the year off. I returned to the drawing board putting college to the side and started to develop what a year “off” would look like. I started raw with just thinking about it. Then, I became more serious as it became more clear that going directly to college was not really what I wanted to do. A few things about the college process stuck out to me. It was apparent that everyone was involved in everyone else’s process. People felt inclined to know where others were applying, where they had and hadn’t gotten accepted. What frustrated me the most was those people were not there for the difficult conversations like sitting around the kitchen table to discuss financial aid, or raising your SAT scores 200 points in a month. Few to none were willing to talk about what no one wanted to talk about.  I decided to keep my gap year exploration low key until I had a better grip on it. I took it to the extreme and initially did not even tell my mom and dad, not recommended!! They are sitting around the kitchen table with you so definitely communicate with them!

I was quick to apply to any program that seemed even remotely appealing. I jumped at them eagerly because they wanted to know about me, my passions and accomplishments not just my grades and SAT scores. That made sense to me; FINALLY something made sense to me. It seemed logical that these folks wanted to know me as a person, not just a profile. Soon after, I was on Skype with interviewers asking about me. It was one question in particular that sold me on taking a bridge year. The interviewer simply asked, “What are you looking forward to in the upcoming week?” I had this ah-ha moment and realized that taking a bridge year was something I had to make happen. My motivation skyrocketed and finding the right program was my new goal for the year. This time I included mom and dad, highly advised. It was by no means easy to find a program that had both what I wanted to do and a comfort level for my parents. It was extremely challenging and I questioned myself at times throughout the process. However, since I made the decision to be a Global Citizen Year 2015 Fellow, I have not looked back. I would like to answer a question that I have been asked as many times as “Where are you going to college??” “Why not college?” My answer: Not yet. I need to learn outside a classroom. I want to explore and discover. I did not speak the college language this year but a bridge year made sense for me, it makes sense. If I were to give any piece of advice to someone approaching “the college process”: look at all your options and listen to yourself. Whatever your gut is telling you to go for it, do it. Be bold.

Welcome to my year!

Isabel Nardi