February 22, 2016

Gap Year Part 2: What's Next?

Meet Mia!! She started her gap year in the fall of 2015 on a group program that traveled throughout South America. With the support of like-minded peers, talented group instructors, and a very well-organized itinerary, Mia was exposed to Spanish lessons, community service, cultural immersion, and travel adventures.

After a semester like that, what happens next? Here at the Center for Interim Programs, we see amazing students, like Mia, then embark on the second part of their gap years with new-found independence, confidence, travel skills, and curiosity. Most students feel ready to stretch their comfort zones even further than they might have thought possible only months ago. This semester, many of our students have opted for placements to further their language skills, travel a bit further from home, or perhaps pursue a volunteer or internship opportunity that feeds into a possible college or career path.

Mia is one of those inspiring students. She knew that in this second part of her gap year, she wanted to gain fluency in Spanish, as well as work with kids. Mia chose a 10-week experience that would offer her both intensive language instruction, as well as an internship of her choosing. She just sent the following update from Costa Rica:

"I have moved onto my second part of my Gap Year in Costa Rica, and am loving it! During the first 3 weeks of my trip, I was living in San Jose and taking Spanish classes 5 days a week. The classes were very helpful, and my teacher didn't speak English, so I was immediately forced to speak Spanish! During this time, I lived with a host family who had 4 daughters. I felt like I was at home with all the girls in the house!!  Every morning I would catch a bus to the Spanish school and have classes. I ate lunch at the school with the other students, and in the afternoons we returned home to our host families. 

I enjoyed going to Zumba class every night with my host mom in the local park. My host family also didn't speak English, so I got lots of practice in! 

On the weekends, Jose (our director) would set up trips for us. We would take a bus to different beaches and mountains and have the weekend to explore the town. We would return on Sunday night to our families, happy and exhausted from a busy weekend. 

2 weeks ago I moved from San Jose to Santa Barbara and started an internship in a Montessori school. I have been working in the classroom with the 2 and 3 year olds and caring for 2 babies who are 9 months and 1 year old. I have been loving working with the kids. It is a bilingual school, and I have plans to help in the English classes starting this week! I will be teaching them songs, colors, numbers, and animals. Jose has continued to set up amazing weekend trips for us, and this past weekend we spent it at a Caribbean beach called Puerto Viejo.  

I am having an amazing time here. I love having more independence, and I am definitely enjoying the warmth and sun!"

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