Where are you originally from, and where do you live now?
I’m from Roswell, Georgia a small suburb north of Atlanta. I currently spend a large chunk of my time living up in Nashville, Tennessee, where I attend Vanderbilt University.
Why did you choose to take a gap year, specifically with Winterline?
As I came to the end of my time in high school, I was spending a ton of time focusing on applying to colleges and worrying about whether I would be accepted to the schools I wanted to go to. I remember sitting in my driveway and opening an acceptance email to my dream school. I was happy, but didn’t feel all that fulfilled. I had spent so much time in high school doing things geared toward this one big moment and I realized it was just another step in my life.
I began thinking I wanted to do something different. Something I chose for my own reasons and not to meet any external expectations. The concept of a gap year wasn’t very popular in my hometown, but I began looking around online. I wanted a year that would push me and let me explore as much as possible in the world. When I stumbled across Winterline, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. The program was an opportunity that would give me space to develop in all the different ways I wanted, and facilitate my growth all across the world. It was the perfect option for me.
What was your favorite skill you learned?
Has to be mindfulness and meditation, which I learned in an ashram in India. I was always an extremely extroverted person and spent most of my time talking with other people and filling my schedule. Learning to dive inward, slow down, spend time with my thoughts and understand them a bit more has been invaluable.
What was your favorite place you visited?
My homestay in Costa Rica. I was able to spend time living with a local family and working on a coffee plantation in Monteverde. The place was serene and the people were so warm and welcoming. Plus, I learned a ton about coffee!
Where have you traveled since Winterline?
Winterline has given me so much more confidence and know-how to travel more. I’ve been lucky enough to travel around in Spain, Italy, France and Switzerland. I also took a road trip across the U.S. to visit a ton of amazing spots right in my backyard!
How has what you learned on your gap year helped you in college, and your life beyond that?
Perspective is the one word I feel like has been the biggest takeaway from my gap year. It may sound cliché, but I’ve learned how many different ways of life and different types of people there are, and how to apply that to the ways I engage with my own life.
In university, it’s helped give me the confidence to pursue passions that really speak to me. I know there are people out there who share those same passions and I know I can find them amidst the sea of possibilities in college.
Tell us a little more about what you do now.
I just got back from Spain where I spent my summer working with an ecotourism business outside of Valencia while continuing work on my book. It was an awesome experience and I look forward to heading back sometime soon.
Can you tell us about the book you’re writing?
Definitely! The book is titled Bridging the Gap: An Investigation into Global Experience. It looks at how travel- be it gap years, study abroad, or travel throughout professional life, is essential to finding meaning in education and work. The book essentially gets at how travel is a key component to driving a fulfilling life.
I started the project about a year ago and have had an incredible time researching and writing about global experience. Travel has had a huge impact on my life and through the book I hope to give others the confidence to go experience travel as well. I’m excited to finish my final manuscript here soon and am aiming to publish this coming Fall!
What is something you’re curious about, and want to learn more about?
I’ve always wanted to become fluent in Spanish. Next year, I’ll be living and studying in Peru and Chile in hopes of learning more of the language and culture there!
What advice do you have for future Winterline students?
Just to head in to the year with an open-mind. It’s impossible to predict all the adventures and experiences you’ll have or what they’ll look like. Everyone will have their ups and downs, but the more you can keep yourself open to whatever comes your way, the more you’ll get out of the year. Don’t stress! You’ve already made the best choice possible if you’re planning on hitting the road for the year!
To learn more about what some of our awesome Winterline alum are doing, check out the rest of our blog posts.