I was accepted into Global Citizen Year very early (the summer before my senior year of high school). Nobody in my family is an avid traveler, and I had previously only gone on short international trips, but I wasn’t phased.
I was in the midst of planning another (short) international trip, and 7 months later, I was boarding a plane to Peru with classmates. The trip was amazing. We visited archaeological Incan sites almost every day, went river rafting, and learned about the local culture. This entailed waking up very early (sometimes at 4 am) to make the most of each day. We would return to the hotel exhausted but usually would go out to explore the city around our hotel before going to bed. By the 8th or 9th day, I was completely drained. Not only was I sleep deprived, but as I was trying to stick to my vegan diet, the majority of my meals were rice and steamed vegetables–not an energy-filled combo.
To my surprise, I was ready to return home. I had never experienced this before; in all of my previous travels, I had wanted to stay, elongate my trip, yet here, after only a week, I was ready to go home.
Suddenly I was reminded of my upcoming year… 7 months in Brazil. If I already wanted to go home after a week in Peru, how was I going to survive 7 months in another country?
To make a long story short, I freaked out. I called my mom, talked to the teacher that chaperoned the trip, and nearly convinced myself that I wouldn’t be able to make it through the gap year.
I was advised to wait until I had got home, gotten a few good nights of sleep, and eaten a few good meals before I made any decisions. When I reached this point, I was still full of uncertainty, but there was a part of me that knew I couldn’t give up this opportunity.
Now here I am, almost a year later. I’m sitting in my room in São José, Santa Catarina, Brasil. My past six months in-country have challenged, rewarded, and transformed me (but that’s for a different blog). I can’t imagine my life if I had given in to that fear.
I wrote this blog because before I came, I read a blog that encouraged me. The girl wrote that she expected to be counting down the days until she returned home, but during her gap year, she didn’t want the days to run out. When I read this, I was skeptical as to whether I would have the same experience, but it encouraged me that other people felt similar to me. Luckily, I can relate to her. In no part of my time here did I count down the days, or wish for time to pass by quicker. I truly feel that I have thrived throughout my time here.
I want others to know that I had a lot of uncertainty before coming here, but making the decision to come was one of the most rewarding decisions I’ve ever made. To anyone reading this who is considering a gap year: don’t let fear keep you from an unforgettable adventure.
Até Mais! Beijos!