Photos of the Week 11/16

While many of us are wrapping our heads around our first flakes of snow, our gap year students have been soaking up the sunshine and rainforest air in Costa Rica. For the past week, our two squads have been in Rancho Mastatal learning about sustainability, and Monteverde working on their Independent Student Projects, or as we call them, ISPs. Check out the photos below to learn more about the skills they’ve been learning and the adventures they’ve been having!

Every Friday we will be putting together our favorite photos and travel highlights from the past week. So be sure to check back again next Friday for another glimpse into our programs. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out last week’s photos as well.


Ready for the adventure of a lifetime?

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Abby on the bridges in the Moteverde Cloud Forest | Photo From: Abby Dulin
Abby on the bridges in the Moteverde Cloud Forest | Photo From: Abby Dulin
Abby, Cristina, and Katie on the bridges | Photo By: Katie Mitchell
Abby, Cristina, and Katie on the bridges | Photo By: Katie Mitchell
Jason on a bridge in the cloud forest | Photo From: Jason Smith
Jason on a bridge in the cloud forest | Photo From: Jason Smith
Squad 2 getting ready for diving in the Pacific ocean | Photo By: Susu Gray, Regional Director
Squad 2 getting ready for diving in the Pacific ocean | Photo By: Susu Gray, Regional Director
Sweet new friends | Photo By: Christian Roach
Sweet new friend | Photo By: Christian Roach
Beautiful shot of SCUBA Diving in the Pacific | Photo By: Emma Mays
Beautiful shot of SCUBA Diving in the Pacific | Photo By: Emma Mays
Nora in Costa Rica with a new friend | Photo From: Nora Turner
Nora in Costa Rica with a new friend | Photo From: Nora Turner
Jason surfing in Costa Rica | Photo From: Jason Smith
Jason surfing in Costa Rica | Photo From: Jason Smith
Benji on a boat in the Pacific during SCUBA | Photo By: Emma Mays
Benji on a boat in the Pacific during SCUBA | Photo By: Emma Mays
Maria ready to dive | Photo By Emma Mays
Maria ready to dive | Photo By Emma Mays
Diving | Photo By: Emma Mays
Diving | Photo By: Emma Mays
This is one of the projects Brogan created while learning the skill of upcycling.
This is one of the projects Brogan created while learning the skill of upcycling.
Brogan with one of his finished products from his Upcycling ISP in Costa Rica | Photo From: Winterline Staff
Brogan with one of his finished products from his Upcycling ISP in Costa Rica | Photo From: Winterline Staff
Ivan post dive | Photo By: Emma Mays
Ivan post dive | Photo By: Emma Mays
Sam ready to go | Photo By: Emma Mays
Sam ready to go | Photo By: Emma Mays
Be your own squad goals | Photo By: Maria O'Neal
Be your own squad goals | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
Stella and Christian | Photo By: Emma Mays
Stella and Christian | Photo By: Emma Mays
Our amazing Field Advisor, Jeremy | Photo By: Emma Mays
Our amazing Field Advisor, Jeremy | Photo By: Emma Mays
Ready to Dive | Photo By: Emma Mays
Ready to dive | Photo By: Emma Mays
Selfies at the baking ISP
Billy Selfie-ing at the baking ISP
Paris grinding chocolate | Photo By: Emma Mays
Paris making chocolate | Photo By: Emma Mays
Making Chocolate | Photo By: Emma Mays
Making Chocolate | Photo By: Emma Mays
Caedon making chocolate | Photo By: Emma Mays
Caedon making chocolate | Photo By: Emma Mays
Selfies at Upcycling
Selfies at Upcycling with Brogan and his mentor
Linnea | Photo By: Emma Mays
Linnea | Photo By: Emma Mays
Linnea and Yeukai on the SCUBA boat | Photo By Emma Mays
Linnea and Yeukai on the SCUBA boat | Photo By Emma Mays
Silks | Photo By: Maria O'Neal
Silks | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
Paris smiling | Photo By: Emma Mays
Paris smiling | Photo By: Emma Mays

Lastly, our student Will Vesey made this video about the issue with water in Monteverde. He connected with a local filmmaker who showed him some new tips and tricks to better his filmmaking. After about a week learning and shooting his video, Will made this video for a presentation. Check it out!

Interested in visiting Costa Rica and Monteverde for yourself? Apply today to visit on our next Winterline gap year. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

NOLS Quotebook: Highlights from the Field

In mid-September, our Squad spent eight days and nights hiking through the desert, climbing canyons, and trudging through rivers in the Gila  National Forest, New Mexico.

Be it thoughts, mental images, or sensations, each of us has unique memories of our course with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). In my case, the smell of our portable gas stove seems to have never escaped my nostrils…

In order to showcase our varied perspectives and experiences, I asked my fellow squad members to engage in a bit of self-reflection. The following collection of responses grants a glimpse into the thoughts of Squad 2 throughout our NOLS expedition.

What is your favorite memory from NOLS?

“My favorite memory from NOLS was when everyone arrived at camp at the same time on the fourth night. It had been a long and hard day, and along with the expedition of the tent pole retrieval there were a lot of doubts. To see everyone make it was amazing.” — Caedon

“My favourite memory was the river crossings in the canyon. It was a refreshing change from hiking through the more desert-like areas, and the scenery down there was worthy of postcards and desktop screensavers.” –Yeukai

“It was the last hour of the most grueling hike of my life. But singing Mamma Mia and relishing in old memories of McDonald’s McGriddles actually made the long, dark trek down the canyon really enjoyable.” — Sam

NOLS Canyon River Crossing | Photo By: Benjamin Kilimnik
Canyon River Crossing | Photo By: Benjamin Kilimnik

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

“I am proud of myself for completing the trip. It felt like a very long week, and our squad went through a lot…Forgotten gear at previous campsites, and a lot of miles to travel. We all finished the journey and came out with a new respect for nature, and for the industrial revolution.” — Caedon

“I’m happy that I was able to complete the course and still be mesmerized by nature rather than get distracted by the tasks at hand” — Ben

“Completing an 8-mile hike in a single day. It was my longest hike, with my heaviest pack on and the fastest travel group. The final descent was in the dark and the trail was ridiculously steep but we were all determined to reach the X on the map. It was the first time that we made camp after dark, so that was a new experience.”Yeukai

“Getting down that giant canyon after 10 hours straight of just hiking. Seeing camp and everyone waiting for us with the tent pole and piping hot ramen was the best thing ever. I’ve never had better ramen in my life.” — Sam

Nature’s Best Bath | Video By: Noah Bestgen

What was most challenging for you?

“There was this phrase we had for having to go to the bathroom, called “Trowel Time”. Basically, you and a trowel ventured far off into the woods and you had to relieve yourself without the comfort of a seat or toilet paper. You would use water to clean yourself. It was horrible and I hope I never have to Trowel Time again.” — Caedon

“Being cold at night was really tough. Even though I was wearing multiple layers, thick socks, gloves, a buff, and a hat, I’d constantly wake up cold and have to try to curl up and hold my freezing knees, whilst inside my sleeping bag.” — Yeukai

“Getting up in the morning. Giving up my nice, warm sleeping bag to a cold, wet morning with a grueling day of hiking ahead was hard to psych myself up for.” — Sam

If you were to sum up your experiences at NOLS with a single word or phrase, what would it be?

“Loco” — Caedon

“Worth the hardship” — Ben

“Stay hydrated everyone” — Yeukai

“Fulfilling” — Sam

 

To learn more about our programs and hear from our students be sure to check out the rest of our blog. We upload new posts three times a week!

Photos of the Week 11/9

Time flies when you’re exploring beautiful Costa Rica and learning skills like surfing, SCUBA, and woodworking. Can you believe there’s only a few more weeks left of Trimester 1?

Every Friday we will be putting together our favorite photos and travel highlights from the past week. So be sure to check back again next Friday for another glimpse into our programs. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out last week’s photos as well.


Ready for the adventure of a lifetime?

GET STARTED


Waiting for waves | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Waiting for waves | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Views from the cloud forest | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Views from the cloud forest | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Woodworking at Rancho | Photo By: Maria O'Neal
Woodworking at Rancho | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
Christian at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Maria O'Neal
Christian at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
SCUBA Diving in Costa Rica | Photo By: Abby Dulin
SCUBA Diving in Costa Rica | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Linnea at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Maria O'Neal
Linnea at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
Woodworking at Rancho | Photo By: Maria O'Neal
Woodworking at Rancho | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
Tyler heading into the surf | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Tyler heading into the surf | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Jumping in! | Photo By: Maria O'Neal
Jumping in! | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
Learning new skills at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Maria O'Neal
Learning new skills at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
Making chocolate | Photo By: Maria O'Neal
Making chocolate | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
Squad 1 in Costa Rica | Photo From: Abby Dulin
Squad 1 in Costa Rica | Photo From: Abby Dulin
Emma at Rancho | Photo By: Maria O'Neal
Emma at Rancho | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
Micah at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Maria O'Neal
Micah at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
Woodworking | Photo By: Maria O'Neal
Woodworking | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
Woodworking | Photo By: Maria O'Neal
Woodworking at Rancho | Photo By: Maria O’Neal

Interested in visiting Costa Rica and Rancho Mastatal for yourself? Apply today to visit on our next Winterline gap year. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Photos of the Week 10/5

Hello October & Hello Panama!

Last week our Global Skills Gap Year finished up their expedition with NOLS Southwest, and we have some amazing photos from their adventures. Earlier this week our students arrived in Panama where they will be working with our partners at ThinkImpact. Here our students will be doing homestays and brushing up on their social entrepreneurship skills. Wifi is limited, but we will be keeping you up to date on their adventures as best as we can!

Every Friday we will be putting together our favorite photos and travel highlights from the past week. So be sure to check back again next Friday for another glimpse into our programs.

Brogan on his NOLS expedition | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Brogan on his NOLS expedition | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Will hanging in his eno | Photo By: Emma Mays
Will hanging in his eno | Photo By: Emma Mays
Hiking | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Hiking | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Linnea with a new friend | Photo By: Emma Mays
Linnea with a new friend | Photo By: Emma Mays
The girls hugging on their expedition | Photo From: Abby Dulin
Brittany, Cristina, and Abby hugging on their expedition | Photo From: Abby Dulin
Tyler and Jason while hiking with NOLS | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Tyler and Jason while hiking with NOLS | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Hiking and smiling | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Hiking and smiling | Photo By: Emma Mays
Paris | Photo By: Maria O'Neal
Paris | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
Cooking at NOLS | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Cooking at NOLS | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Ben cooking | Photo By: Emma Mays
Ben cooking | Photo By: Emma Mays
Micah and Ben | Photo By: Emma Mays
Micah and Ben | Photo By: Emma Mays
Becky and Katie on their NOLS expedition. | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Becky and Katie on their NOLS expedition. | Photo By: Abby Dulin
The group cooking while on their NOLS expedition | Photo By: Abby Duling
The group cooking while on their NOLS expedition | Photo By: Abby Dulin
The boys posing on their hike | Photo By: Abby Dulin
The boys posing on their hike | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Benji smiling | Photo By: Emma Mays
Benji smiling | Photo By: Emma Mays
Tyler and Cristina cooking | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Tyler and Cristina cooking | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Spencer Hiking | Photo By" Abby Dulin
Spencer Hiking | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Becky, Alex, and Katie | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Becky, Alex, and Katie | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Ivan with an impressive lego octopus | Photo By: Emma Mays
Ivan with an impressive lego octopus | Photo By: Emma Mays
Jason reading the map | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Jason reading the map | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Yeukai and Cristina smiling in Arizona | Photo By: Emma Mays
Yeukai and Cristina smiling in Arizona | Photo By: Emma Mays
Will helping pitch the tent | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Will helping pitch the tent | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Reading and Resting | Photo By: Emma Mays
Reading and Resting | Photo By: Emma Mays
Brogan hiking | Photo By: Abby Dulin
Brogan hiking | Photo By: Abby Dulin

To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Photos of the Week 9/28

It’s the last Friday of September! Can you believe October is almost here? Our Global Skills Gap Year students have spent the last week on an expedition with NOLS Southwest, and we are so excited to hear about their adventures, now that they’re returning. While on their wilderness expedition, our students have been learning skills like how to sleep outside and stay warm, cooking over a single burner stove, navigation, and prior to their departure, they learned Wilderness First Aid. Next stop for these world travelers? Panama! Our students will depart for Panama later this weekend to start the first leg of their journey outside the USA.

Every Friday we will be putting together our favorite photos and travel highlights from the past week. So be sure to check back again next Friday for another glimpse into our programs.

Becky, Spencer, Josie, Alex, Luc and Katie in Arizona | Photo From: GSP Student, Spencer
Ivan, back from NOLS | Photo By: GSP Student, Emma
Abby and Jason during their 9 day trek with NOLS Southwest | Photo From: GSP Student, Abby
Stella, Nora, and Paris in Arizona | Photo From: GSP Student, Nora
Brogan, Noah, and Tyler on the sunset hike | Photo From: GSP Student, Tyler
Nora in Arizona | Photo From: GSP Student, Nora
Cristina, Billy, Spencer and Abby during their time with NOLS Southwest | Photo From: GSP Student, Abby
Josie backpacking with NOLS | Photo from GSP Student, Josie
Josie backpacking with NOLS | Photo from GSP Student, Josie
Linnea in Tucson, Arizona | Photo From: GSP Student, Linnea
Linnea in Tucson, Arizona | Photo From: GSP Student, Linnea
Jason during his time with NOLS | Photo From: GSP Student, Jason
Katie and Abby backpacking with NOLS Southwest | Photo From:GSP Student, Abby
Humphrey the camel enjoying his time in the Gila Forest with our students | Photo From: @humphreythecamelsadventures‘ instagram
Nora and Ben in Arizona | Photo From: GSP Student, Nora
Abby and Tyler on the sunset hike | Photo From: GSP Student, Tyler
Rainbows at the YMCA | Photo By: GSP Student, Tyler

To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Photos of the Week 9/21

Happy Friday! The past week was a big one for our Gap Year students. After getting to know one another at Orientation in Arizona, our students left for their expedition with NOLS Southwest! Last week our students met at the Triangle Y Ranch Camp in Tucson, Arizona. Here, they did team building activities, learned communication strategies, did a photo scavenger hunt, played games and participated in workshops lead by our all star field staff. After a trip to Biosphere 2 on Sunday, our students left the Y to go to NOLS Southwest. Currently, our students are on an eight day expedition with NOLS. We can’t wait to hear about and see photos from their adventures.

Every Friday we will be putting together our favorite photos and travel highlights from the past week. So be sure to check back again next Friday for another glimpse into our programs.

Our 2018-2019 Gap Year Students and Field Advisors
Our 2018-2019 Gap Year Students and Field Advisors
Winterline Global Education Gap Year Squad 1
Squad 1
Winterline Global Education Gap Year Squad 2
Squad 2
Squad 1
Squad 1
Winterline Global Education Gap Year Squad 2
Squad 2
Our amazing Field Advisors. Top: Jeff, Jeremy | Bottom: Hillevi, Eileen, Arielle
Our amazing Field Advisors. Top: Jeff, Jeremy | Bottom: Hillevi, Eileen, Arielle
Fist bumping a mantis. | This photo is from Caedon, Ivan, Stella, and Micah's photo scavenger hunt group.
Fist bumping a mantis. | This photo is from Caedon, Ivan, Stella, and Micah’s photo scavenger hunt group.
Emma, Christian, and Linnea in side the rainforest habitat of Biosphere 2
Noah and Yeukai hiking | Photo from Noah, Yeukai, Paris, and Shayan’s photo scavenger hunt group
Winterline
Ben “being a cactus.” | This photo is from Ben, Maria, Christian, and Emma’s photo scavenger hunt group.
Group picture fun during the photo scavenger hunt. | Photo By: Ivan Kuhn
Group picture fun during the photo scavenger hunt. | Photo By: Ivan Kuhn
Abby outside of Biosphere 2 | Photo by: Jess Bonner, Director of Marketing
Abby outside of Biosphere 2 | Photo by: Jess Bonner, Director of Marketing
Katie, Spencer, and Humphrey.
Maria taking photos | Photo By: Emma Mays
Maria taking photos | Photo By: Emma Mays
Lending a hand! | This photo is from Benji, Sam, Nora, and Linnea’s photo scavenger hunt group.
Caedon and Stella walking up to the ranch | This photo is from Caedon, Ivan, Stella, and Micah’s photo scavenger hunt group.
Tyler, Alex, Cristina, and Sam with their structure from the Marshmallow Challenge.
Luc while on a hike | Photo By: Alex Owens
Emily, Josie, Billy, Jason, and the Winterline Mascot, Humphrey, during the photo scavenger hunt.
Paris | Photo from Noah, Yeukai, Paris, and Shayan’s photo scavenger hunt group
Everyone very excited to head to Biosphere 2
Caedon doing sand angels. | This photo is from Caedon, Ivan, Stella, and Micah's photo scavenger hunt group.
Caedon doing sand angels. | This photo is from Caedon, Ivan, Stella, and Micah’s photo scavenger hunt group.
Arizona views | Photo By: Alex Owens
Arizona views | Photo By: Alex Owens
Some of the group outside of Biosphere 2

 

Luc, Brogan, Cristina, and Abby at the Y | Photo By: Brittany Lane
Luc, Brogan, Cristina, and Abby at the Y | Photo By: Brittany Lane
Playing in the pool | Photo by: Brittany Lane
Lydia and Will inside of Biosphere 2

To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

New Student Spotlight: Ben Kilimnik

The Winterline Global Skills Gap Year Program travels to 10 different countries over 9 months, where students learn 100 new life skills while traveling the world with their best friends.


Thinking about taking a gap year too?

LEARN MORE


 

THE CONCEPT OF A GAP YEAR PROGRAM IS STILL NEW FOR MANY STUDENTS. WHEN WERE YOU FIRST INTRODUCED TO THE IDEA OF TAKING A GAP YEAR?

To be honest, I can’t recall when I first heard about gap years… but the important thing is that I learned about them early enough to apply to Winterline!

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

By the time senior year rolled around, the idea of taking time off before college was already floating around in my mind. I had my fill of exams, extracurriculars and college applications and was itching to explore the world outside of school.

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

Definitely hiking and outdoor survival skills with NOLS (The National Outdoor Leadership School). Something about exploring a scenic landscape always refreshes me.

Hiking along the English coast (My brother started calling me “Cliff Goat” after this…)

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?

Right now I have more things I want to do than I may ever have time for. Maybe I’ll become an astrophysicist in the future? Or a mountaineer? A sous-chef? A captain of a cruise ship? Whatever I end up doing, I can’t imagine myself settling in one profession for the rest of my life. To start with though, I’ve deferred my acceptance to Brown University and will begin my studies there in the fall of 2019.

HAVE YOU TRAVELED BEFORE? IF SO, WHICH TRIP HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?

Never have I felt closer to nature than when I spent two weeks living in a lighthouse in Cornwall on the southern coast of England. There’s something to be said about watching waves crash against cliffs from your bedroom window and having the rocky coast to explore just outside your front door. As long as you don’t mind the foghorn blaring in the background every half hour, living in a lighthouse is great fun.

Exploring the crumbling cliffs of Cornwall

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO GAIN FROM YOUR GAP YEAR PROGRAM AND WHILE TRAVELING ABROAD?

I hope to try new things, explore my passions and generally figure out what’s important to me in life. Aside from specific skills, I think my gap year will teach me how to be self-motivated and how to learn in unpredictable environments.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WANT YOUR FUTURE WINTERLINE PEERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I’m a big fan of astronomy in all its forms. There’s nothing more mesmerizing than gazing up at a starry sky and pondering the mysteries of the universe. What that also means is that I’m used to staying up very late.

The view from my friend’s telescope on a cold Winter’s night

WHY WINTERLINE?

What drew me to Winterline was the incredibly diverse range of experiences that the program offers. Combined with the independent study projects (ISPs), Winterline offers a freedom of choice that is unique among the gap year programs I researched.

All Winterline staff I have interacted with so far have been super friendly, helpful and understanding, which is something I really appreciate.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

Ever since I started playing around with image editing, a few of my friends have called me a Photoshop whizz… Want to turn into a cat? Be featured in the New York Times? Have your face on a $1 bill? Make a wish and I will make it happen – digitally, at least.

The magic of Photoshop

New Student Spotlight: Paris Geolas

The Winterline Global Skills Gap Year Program travels to 10 different countries over 9 months, where students learn 100 new life skills while traveling the world with their best friends.


Thinking about taking a gap year too?

LEARN MORE


THE CONCEPT OF A GAP YEAR PROGRAM IS STILL NEW FOR MANY STUDENTS. WHEN WERE YOU FIRST INTRODUCED TO THE IDEA OF TAKING A GAP YEAR?

I first was introduced to the concept in my freshman year of high school and cast it aside almost immediately. For me it didn’t seem realistic and I’d had a fairly set track in my mind of what my future looked like, and I didn’t see pushing back college as a part of it.

Winterline Global Skills Paris Geolas
Paris hiking in Moab this summer.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

For my last two years of high school, I attended the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, a two year boarding school which you apply to your sophomore year and if accepted, take mostly college classes for the remainder of high school. Having moved out at sixteen and essentially done two years of college already, I was looking for something a little bit different and was excited for the opportunity to take a break from a classroom setting. I found Winterline and became more excited for my future there than directly back into a desk chair, and that’s when I knew I wanted to take a gap year. 

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I absolutely can’t wait for NOLS. I spent this summer living in the middle of the San Juan National Forest working as an ecology tour guide at a zipline retreat, which has been my first real exposure to living outside, so I’m excited for a little over a week of backpacking.

Winterline Global Skills Paris Geolas
The view from a bridge near Paris’ cabin in Colorado.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?

My favorite thing on this earth to do is write. No matter what I do or where I go, I’ll always be a writer. I’ve recently discovered a new sector of that passion, writing code. I’d like to go into computer science or political journalism. I know these are two very different fields but they excite me in ways that I want both of.

HAVE YOU TRAVELED BEFORE? IF SO, WHICH TRIP HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?

I went to Iceland in February with a team from NCSSM. I had just been accepted to Winterline and was deciding whether or not to just jump in and do it or go to UNC as planned. As part of the trip, we took a day to climb the glacier Sólheimajökull, and as we made our way up and began to see the vastness of the land and the snow, our guide turned to me and said, “I used to work an office job before this. I wonder how I ever made it.” I knew then that I had to re-evaluate the way I thought about learning, success, and my career path. I knew then that being outside would always need to be a big part of my life. That trip taught me a lot about myself and the way I characterize the world, and helped me see things in a different light.

Winterline Global Skills Paris Geolas
Paris in Iceland

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO GAIN FROM YOUR GAP YEAR PROGRAM WHILE TRAVELING ABROAD?

I hope that over the next year I gain the ability to be comfortable doing things by myself. I tend to gravitate towards social situations and I love talking to people, but I’d like to be content living, thinking, and traveling on my own. I’m excited to get close with my peers, but I’m also excited to get closer with who I am.

what is one thing you want your future winterline peers to know about you?

I love ultimate frisbee so I’m always ready to throw a disc around!

why winterline?

None of the other programs I looked at even came close to Winterline. Ten countries in nine months? I will likely never get the chance to do that again in my lifetime. It was the only program I wanted and the only one I applied to.

Winterline Global Skills Paris Geolas
Paris in her bear hat!

tell us something fun about you!

I have this bear hat I like to wear that basically goes everywhere with me.

3 Things You Need to Do After You Return From Your Gap Year.

1. Manage Any Reverse Culture Shock.

Most people are familiar with regular culture shock, the feeling that you get during your travels where you realize you’ve truly left home. I’m sure you probably felt this while traveling on your gap year. You’re experiencing foreign and new things which sometimes are a blast and sometimes aren’t as fun (hence the word shock). But reverse culture shock isn’t talked about as much. It can be disorienting and uncomfortable when you come back from your time abroad and realize your idea of home isn’t quite the same anymore. As our Field Advisor, Mischa, outlined in his blog on reverse culture shock,

“After 9 months on the road, traveling to over 10 countries and learning 100 new skills, our students on the Winterline Global Skills Gap Year Program have one more river to cross — coming home.”

So how do you deal with it?

Accept and understand that you’ve grown as a person. This isn’t always a quick process, but understanding how you’ve changed will help you adjust your “new” self in your “old” surroundings. Additionally, it’s important to connect with others who have shared your experience. Know that you’re not alone when it comes to feeling reverse culture shock. If you find that a text or a snapchat doesn’t meet your need for connection…reach out to your travel friends! Don’t be afraid to press the call button on your phone and just talk to your friends you spent time traveling with. After all, on a program like ours, you just spent 9 months seeing each other, every. single. day.

You may also find that journaling, blogging, or vlogging helps you keep your experiences alive and eases your transition into coming home. These activities can help you integrate your travels into your daily lives. And don’t forget, if you really love travel you can always work in the industry. Just because you spent the last 9 months traveling doesn’t mean you can’t make it your lifestyle or go abroad for an extended period of time again!

winterline global skills reverse culture shock

2. Tell Your Story!

As we mentioned above, journaling and blogging can help you with your transition from travels to coming home. As many of you may be discovering, your family and friends may have a limited capacity to relate to your experience abroad. As Mischa mentioned in his blog,

“Go easy on these people. You will have to find a sweet spot in your story telling. You don’t want to be that person who flips every conversation into “well… when I was in India…” But you also don’t want to keep your experience to yourself and let it fade into memory.” 

A great way to find the “sweet spot” in your storytelling is to be intentional. Ask people to come over and watch your GoPro videos with you, look at photos, and share stories. Create the space for it so they know that it’s your time and it’s important to you. Another great way is to share your experiences on social media or with other students who plan on going abroad. Do you remember your own uncertainty, anxiety, and excitement as you researched the perfect gap year program for you? Wouldn’t it have been great to have a review from someone like you, who’s been in the exact same situation, had a great experience traveling, and come home to share their story.

By leaving a review on websites like Go Overseas or Go Abroad, you’ll give back to the global travel community. You’ll help future students like you feel more confident making their travel decisions and you’ll be encouraging more people to go abroad and share in experiences like you had.  Seriously, it’ll give you warm fuzzies and make you fall in love with your gap year all over again.

Not to mention sites like these will reward you for your reviews with contests where you can win travel abroad again. Check out this one that Go Overseas is hosting now. 

3. Travel the World, AGAIN.

Once you’re home and adjusted, you may notice this itching feeling in your stomach. It’s the travel bug! Now that you’ve experienced such amazing adventures abroad, you know what to expect when you travel the world again. Right? It’s time to start planning your next trip. Maybe you’ll head back to that amazing town in Costa Rica, or use your new certification to go SCUBA Diving near the Great Barrier reef–whatever the case is, we’re sure you have a head full of ideas, and we can’t wait to see where you wanderlust takes you.

Need help going abroad again? Check out that Go Overseas contest we mentioned above. This contest runs from literally right NOW through June 15th, and there are prizes available every week — including the grand prize, which is $1000 toward your next trip overseas.

New Student Spotlight: Maria O’Neal

Gap Year students on the Winterline Global Skills Gap Year Program travel to 10 different countries over 9 months, where they learn 100 new life skills while traveling the world with their best friends.


Thinking about taking a gap year too?

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THE CONCEPT OF A GAP YEAR PROGRAM IS STILL NEW FOR MANY STUDENTS. WHEN WERE YOU FIRST INTRODUCED TO THE IDEA OF TAKING A GAP YEAR?

The idea of taking a gap year came up when I told my parents I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to study in college, they suggested a gap year to learn more about myself and what I like to do. I have since kinda figured out what I would like to study but would still want to learn more about the world and myself.

maria o'neal winterline gap year student

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

I love to travel and want to see a bit of the world and have an adventure before I go back to school.  It could also help me figure out what I want to study.

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

All of the skills look super fun and interesting though I am looking forward to learning to cook in Thailand; I would love to be able to have some culinary skill besides just pasta, pancakes, and quesadillas.

maria o'neal winterline gap year student

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?

I will be going to Colorado State University (GO Rams!) and the current plan is to get my Master’s in physical therapy with a minor in sports psychology, but I am still open to a lot of different career paths.

HAVE YOU TRAVELED BEFORE? IF SO, WHICH TRIP HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?

I don’t know if this counts as traveling but I was born in Spain and lived there until I was seven. During that time we traveled a lot throughout Europe. Since moving to the states I have been back to Europe a couple of times and have also been to San Carlos, Mexico. My favorite trip was back to Spain when my family and I spent a week sailing around Mallorca and had an amazing time.

maria o'neal winterline gap year student

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO GAIN FROM YOUR GAP YEAR PROGRAM AND WHILE TRAVELING ABROAD?

I hope to learn about the amazing different cultures around the world and I hope to find more activities that I enjoy and could use the rest of my life.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WANT YOUR FUTURE WINTERLINE PEERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I am always looking forward to new adventures, I consider myself pretty optimistic, I am hardworking and looking forward to the challenges this trip presents. I love to laugh and make cheesy jokes, and I can’t wait to meet new people.

maria o'neal winterline gap year student

WHY WINTERLINE?

I loved that Winterline focuses on exposing its participants to more careers, teaches new skills, and offers a chance to meet fellow adventurers.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I am a mountain girl at heart. As mentioned above I was born in Spain but now reside in a small mountain town where I enjoy skiing, trail running, and many different types of adventuring. I dabble in photography and weird dancing.

To learn more about our students be sure to check out other posts on our blog. We upload new posts three times a week! Also, be sure to catch up with us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

New Student Spotlight: Tyler Trout

The Winterline Global Skills Gap Year Program travels to 10 different countries over 9 months, where students learn 100 new life skills while traveling the world with their best friends.


Thinking about taking a gap year too?

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THE CONCEPT OF A GAP YEAR PROGRAM IS STILL NEW FOR MANY STUDENTS. WHEN WERE YOU FIRST INTRODUCED TO THE IDEA OF TAKING A GAP YEAR?

I first heard of people taking gap years when I was in middle school. I thought it was a really cool idea and I kept it in the back of my head through high school. When I started applying to various colleges, I wasn’t feeling very excited about it and knew I didn’t want to go straight to four more years of school. I decided that I wanted to take a gap year and through some research on the topic I discovered the Winterline Global Skills Program.  

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

I chose to take a gap year because I wanted to travel to new places and have new experiences. I have always loved traveling. I also love learning, but sitting in a classroom isn’t my idea of fun. Learning skills without having to be in class sounds like a fantastic opportunity.

Tyler trout winterline

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I am most excited to learn how to cook with ingredients in different countries! I love to cook at home and I make various meals for my friends and family, so learning to expand that talent is something I really look forward to.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?

I’m not entirely sure what I want to do in the future. I have always liked the idea of being a veterinarian because I know I would be happy helping animals. Overall I just want to have fun and do what I feel passionate about.

Tyler trout winterline

HAVE YOU TRAVELED BEFORE? IF SO, WHICH TRIP HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?

I have traveled to various places with family and friends, but my favorite trip was when I visited my uncle in Colombia, South America. It was a really cool experience to be fully immersed in a foreign country. I went to three cities: Medellín, Cartagena, and Santa Marta. Each city had a completely different feel. I saw one of Pablo Escobar’s hideouts in Medellín, hiked to a remote jungle beach in Santa Marta and conversed with Argentine cowboys in Cartagena. It was a really cool adventure with my uncle and, while traveling, I was able to practice my Spanish speaking skills.

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO GAIN FROM YOUR GAP YEAR PROGRAM AND WHILE TRAVELING ABROAD?

I would like to make lifelong friends, get a better understanding of the world, and make great memories. Going to ten different countries and seeing so much of the world is an amazing opportunity that not many people will ever get so I really want to make the most of it.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WANT YOUR FUTURE WINTERLINE PEERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I’m a fun and outgoing person who tries to see the best in everything! I love meeting new people and making friends! I enjoy trying novel things and am open to unique opportunities!

WHY WINTERLINE?

No other program gives you the chance to see so many different places and learn so many new skills and talents. I looked at a few other gap year programs and they were all only one semester or only went to one location. Winterline is a one-of-a-kind experience that you can’t find anywhere else.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I love dogs and a good game of pick up football!

To learn more about our students be sure to check out other posts on our blog. We upload new posts three times a week! Also, be sure to catch up with us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Winterline Graduation 2018 Highlights

At graduation this year, our students not only celebrated completing their program, but also presented “story slams” about their time abroad. Story slams are brief presentations highlighting students’ favorite moments during their gap year. These presentations were given in front of everyone at graduation as a final part of the program.


Thinking about taking a gap year too?

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We are so proud of our students for their ability to express themselves and command a room. The following photos and videos are highlights from the story slams and graduation ceremony. We hope you enjoy!

Blue Cohort Story Slams

winterline gap year graduation
Elaine presenting her story slam on bungee jumping.

The day kicked off with story slams from our Blue Cohort. Elaine was the first to present. She told us about her adventures bungee jumping on a rest day in Costa Rica. Her advice? “Don’t tell people your plans before you go bungee jumping. They will spend all of the time leading up to you going trying to scare you.” Despite her friends trying to scare her, we can tell she had a blast! In Samir’s clip above, he highlights the importance of experiential learning. We have to say, we are very impressed with our students polished public speaking skills. It’s clear that we have some great presenters, and possibly some future stand-up comedians, in our newly graduated class!

winterline gap year graduation
Cody presenting his story slam
winterline gap year graduation
Proud Field Advisors watching the Blue Cohort’s story slams.
winterline gap year graduation
Meagan presenting her story slam at graduation.

While some students chose to talk about activities and experiences, Meagan chose to talk about the relationships she made within her cohort. The blue squad’s “Girl Gang” was a tight knit group of all the girls from the Blue Cohort and the Blue Field Advisors Erica and Patrick. Meagan told us about how having such a solid support group changed her life. She also shared many funny stories about their time traveling abroad.

Fellow girl gang member, Savannah, honored those who had mentally and physically supported her during her gap year by naming the best piggy back ride providers. Winners included Erica, Patrick, Meagan and Whitaker who received the participation award. Dini spoke after Savannah, highlighting her time in Costa Rica at the environmentally conscious and sustainable community, Rancho Mastatal. She also shared her singing talents with us. Check out the video below!

winterline gap year graduation
Savannah sharing her story slam
winterline gap year graduation
Dini describing her time at Rancho Mastatal

Green Cohort Story Slams

Blue’s story slams were followed by the Green Cohort. Andrew was the first up for green. He kicked the group off on a fantastic note and was followed by Alice, who made everyone laugh while she recounted her story of falling off a bike in Cambodia. (She didn’t get hurt, we promise!)

winterline gap year graduation
Andrew presenting his story slam
winterline gap year graduation
Alice making light of a then scary moment, falling off a bike in Cambodia.

Patrick shared how sports allowed him to connect across cultures while traveling the world. Through watching and playing sports with the people he met abroad, Patrick was able to form new relationships. Following Patrick, Hayden shared with us what she would tell her past self about taking a gap year. At the start of the program she wrote herself a letter which she shared with us. Now at the end of the program she wrote her past self a reply.

winterline gap year graduation
Patrick sharing his thoughts on sports and travel.
winterline gap year graduation
Hayden reading her letter to herself.

Graduation Ceremony

For the graduation ceremony itself, students were called up individually and presented with a khata. A khata is a traditional Tibetan scarf that is symbolic of purity and compassion. It is common for these to be worn at major life events, like graduations. After receiving their khata, our students were given their diplomas and were honored by their Field Advisors and other Winterline staff.

winterline gap year graduation
Elaine being presented with her khata.
winterline gap year graduation
Dini after receiving her diploma.
winterline gap year graduation
Patrick congratulating Sophia on graduating and her completion of the Winterline Program.
winterline gap year graduation
Nick congratulating Alex on her graduation.
winterline gap year graduation
Green Cohort boys, post Graduation.
winterline gap year graduation
Silly Grads! Our Blue and Green Cohorts together.
winterline gap year graduation
Our Blue Cohort
Winterline gap year graduation
Our Green Cohort

After the ceremony, we took group photos of our students and celebrated with a reception. For more graduation photos be sure to check out our Facebook album here.

Want to hear first hand from a Winterline alum? We’re always happy to set up prospective students with alumni for them to get a better understanding of our program. If you have any questions about the Winterline program or would like to be connected with an alumni, reach out to us at admissions@winterline.com! Applications are open for our Fall 2018 Gap Year program. Now through May 25th we are offering $1000 off in honor of gap year decision day.

 

Introspective Reflection in India

The Creator, The Sustainer, and The Transformer. These three deities make up “Trimurti,” the trinity of supreme divinity in the religion of Hinduism. When they come together like this, they form one singular being that Hindu followers, and followers of other Indian religions, worship and highly revere. Despite the fact that I am not a follower of Hinduism, I find personal value in each of these three deities. The ideas behind Trimurti continue to teach me about myself and the roles I play in others’ lives as well as my own.  

I learned about Trimurti when I stayed at Atmasantulana, an Ayruvedic health center and ashram, during my independent study project in Lonavala, India. Ayurveda is an ancient practice of medicine that began in India. One of its main principles is to treat and cure the body holistically, as opposed to simply treating symptoms and ignoring root causes. They attempt to do so through diet, meditation, yoga, exercise and various Ayurvedic treatments. Over my five-day stay, I learned more about myself than I have in any other singular week on Winterline, which is saying a lot. I didn’t expect to have such an intense week of introspective reflection, especially given that the environment was so unorthodox by my standards.

Anna expressing herself with color in India | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Anna expressing herself with color in India | Photo By: Anna Nickerson

Sunil, one of our clinic program directors, told us about Ayurveda on our first day. He taught us about the elements of the body, which are Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space. He explained that when all of our elements are in perfect symbiosis and alignment, the body will have no problems, but when one or more of the elements is misaligned, ailments and symptoms of the body will occur. The goal of Ayurveda, he explained, is to use natural methods to bring these elements back into alignment, therefore healing the body directly. As I went on the next few days, I kept what Sunil said in mind and stayed open to the idea that yoga, meditation, and following basic Ayurvedic principles could heal some of my body’s ailments. I quickly realized that my mindset was preventing me from healing, and I needed to change that.  

I had an appointment with an Ayurvedic physician during the middle of the week to discuss my chronic joint pain, digestive issues, and recurring acne, which have all plagued me for years. She went through my medical history with me, asked me questions about my lifestyle, and then “felt my pulses.” As silly as it may sound, she was feeling the pulse in my wrist for my “energy.” Within 30 seconds of this, she looked at me and said, “You get angry soon.” She meant that I have a quick temperament, and get upset with very little reaction time, which is true to an extent. I asked her to tell me more about this and how she felt it in my energy. She told me that I have too much “Vata,” which is responsible for the elements of air and space, and determine overall movement in the body. She prescribed me all-natural ayruvedic medicine and told me to meditate and practice yoga every day. I proceeded to go to the yoga sessions each morning and meditation each evening. After each session, I felt lighter and more comfortable within my own body. I didn’t feel any desire to worry or to stress, and I just felt good. When I thought about the stuff that had bothered me the previous week, it all seemed more trivial to me. And I seriously wondered if my temperament was really preventing me from healing and being a more productive person. I wanted to keep this feeling of calmness and stability, which was so new to me. 

anna kayaking
Anna kaying in India. | Photo From: Anna Nickerson

I have attained, and am still attaining, more calmness and less temperament in my daily life. I have a deeper understanding of what I need to keep myself grounded, and I am more comfortable being “selfish” when it is necessary for me to take care of myself, especially while living with a large group of people. Meditation is now a part of my routine, and yoga is something I sometimes incorporate when I have enough floor space in my hostel room.

The thing I often come back to is the idea behind Trimurti, which has deeply resonated with me since I first learned about it. We all have aspects of the creator, the sustainer, and the transformer within us. I’ve found that it’s by looking at those aspects of ourselves that we are able to identify what we do well, and what could be improved. I am a great creator and sustainer within most realms of my life, but when it comes to “transforming,” I have a difficult time. By actively recognizing that, and framing it in an intuitive way that works for me, I am able to work on myself and let go of so much.

India | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
India | Photo By: Anna Nickerson

I am my own creator and my own sustainer and my own transformer. The biggest lesson for me in the last few weeks has been this idea, but applied to my mindset and attitude about my life. I create my mindset. I am the creator of my own environment and my own reactions to what happens in my life. I sustain my mindset. I am able to look at the grand scheme of things, believe that what I am doing in this moment is helping me now and in the future, and actively sustain my progress. And I can transform my mindset.  I hold the power to transform my own life. And it’s liberating.

 

To learn more about our students be sure to check out the rest of our blog. We upload new posts three times a week!

 

New Student Spotlight: Emma Mays

Gap Year Students on the Winterline Global Skills Gap Year Program travel to 10 different countries over 9 months, where they learn 100 new life skills while traveling the world with their best friends.


Thinking about taking a gap year too?

LEARN MORE


THE CONCEPT OF A GAP YEAR PROGRAM IS STILL NEW FOR MANY STUDENTS. WHEN WERE YOU FIRST INTRODUCED TO THE IDEA OF TAKING A GAP YEAR?

I was only really introduced to the idea of taking a gap year a few months ago. I’d heard of them in the past but they seemed to be a thing mostly in europe and I’d never personally known anyone who decided to take one. A few months back my Mom actually mentioned the idea to me and we just went from there.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

I’ve been burnt out on the education system for a very long time now and I think my family and I realized that I just needed some time away from a traditional classroom setting to regain my passion for learning.

Emma-Mays-gap year student
Emma

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I’m really excited about everything to be honest. That being said I’m weirdly excited about glass blowing, I’m not particularly sure why it just seems so interesting and something no one I’ve ever met has done.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?

I’m not sure what exactly I’d like to do in the future but I’d definitely love to work in a creative field. Right now I’m considering majoring in film production but I’m interested in seeing what direction the next year pushes me in.

Emma-Mays-gap year student
Legend Titan Front Ensemble at Grand Nationals 2017

HAVE YOU TRAVELED BEFORE? IF SO, WHICH TRIP HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?

I haven’t traveled extensively, mostly just to visit family, but when I was 15 my school’s marching band went to London. It was the first time I had traveled without my family and it was a really great experience. My friends and I got lost in the city and we had to find our way back. It was a really fun experience and it changed my perspective on a lot of stuff.

Emma-Mays-Winterline-gap year student
Emma (far right) with friends.

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO GAIN FROM YOUR GAP YEAR AND WHILE TRAVELING ABROAD?

I think if I knew what exactly I expected to get out this experience it almost wouldn’t be worth going, but I do hope to get a bit more adaptability out of the adventure.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WANT YOUR FUTURE WINTERLINE PEERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I’m pretty quiet at first but as I get more comfortable I’ll start making a bunch of jokes and you’ll probably want to punch me in the face but that’s alright because I made a really good friend that way.

Emma-Mays-Winterline-gap year student
Emma (middle) with friends.

WHY WINTERLINE?

I don’t think I could articulate it if I tried, when I found Winterline’s site I just had a feeling in my gut that this is where I should be.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I’m a ridiculous person, I do goofy stuff all the time. For example last october I had a half day of school and I dressed up the plastic skeleton we had for halloween and put him in my passenger seat and drove around. His name is Franklin.

To learn more about our students be sure to check out other posts on our blog. We upload new posts three times a week! Also, be sure to catch up with us on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

Photos of the Week 4/20

What an adventure it has been! Our students are on their way back from Europe and will be landing in Boston this evening. They have spent their last week in Europe on Spring Break in Prague. Once they are back in the U.S. they will finish up Trimester 3 by giving presentations on their Europe Independent Study Projects, they will also do a Startup Bootcamp focusing on business skills, prep for life after Winterline, and of course celebrate their graduation! We are so excited to see our blue and green cohorts in person and can’t wait to celebrate their success at their graduation ceremony.

Tell us which photos are your favorite in the comments below! Don’t forget, every Friday we post photos of the week. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Hayden in Italy | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Hayden in Italy | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Alex and Elaine at the John Lennon Wall | Photo By: Savannah Pallazola
Alex and Elaine at the John Lennon Wall | Photo By: Savannah Pallazola
Anna and Patrick during Trimester 3
Anna and Patrick during Trimester 3
Prague | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Prague | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Liam and Alice at the Spy Museum in Berlin
Liam and Alice at the Spy Museum in Berlin
Anna and our Field Advisor Nick at BMW Driving Experience
Anna and our Field Advisor, Nick, at BMW Driving Experience
Winterline tagged on the John Lennon Wall
Winterline tagged on the John Lennon Wall
Anna and Leela during Trimester 3
Anna and Leela during Trimester 3
Elaine, Savannah, and Alex at the John Lennon Wall.
Elaine, Savannah, and Alex at the John Lennon Wall.

Hope you enjoyed our photos of the week! Remember we post new photos every Friday. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Social Entrepreneurship: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

The term, “social entrepreneurship” comes up almost every day as I travel through Southeast Asia. People interpret this term differently, which makes sense given that the buzzword combines two complex ideas; society/social causes and entrepreneurship. As someone who wants to become a social entrepreneur, I want to break down the meaning of this term and what I have gained by looking at it through a cross-cultural lense.

I personally define social entrepreneurship as a mindset, rather than a component of a business entity. I believe that all social enterprises must start as social enterprises. This mindset cannot be an afterthought, rather the foundational aspect of any successful social enterprise.

Anna cutting the ribbon at Clarity’s launch event last year!
Anna cutting the ribbon at Clarity’s launch event last year!

During my senior year of high school, I was the CEO of a social enterprise, called “Clarity.” My peers and I started the business to bring awareness to teenage suicide within our school district. Our mission was to decrease factors in our school and district that played a role in teen suicide by promoting positive future-seeking visions in every student. We achieved this by selling unique water bottles and stickers that acted as conversations starters within our school. From my own personal experience of having friends and family members suffer from suicidal thoughts, I feel strongly about the issue and I wanted to make a change, even if it was on a small scale within in my high school. The name “Clarity” was inspired by the lack of clarity that many teenagers face in their lives, and that they struggle to find. Our slogan “See Your Future” encouraged students to look past these clouding visions and see their own unique futures.

Our enterprise was successful, both socially and fiscally. We nearly quadrupled our initial investment, which we then donated to a local mental health center and our high school’s business department. We also had better results from students, regarding mental health and conversations about suicide, in our post-business survey. We only attained success because we were passionate about our mission, and we were involved primarily for the social outcome. We succeeded because of our entrepreneurial spirit and passion for achieving our mission.

Clarity goes international
Clarity goes international

I recently interviewed Max Simpson, a social entrepreneur and SEN (special educational needs) teacher who co-founded “Steps with Theera.” This restaurant/café is located in Bangkok, Thailand and is on a mission to create a place where everyone is accepted for who they are, which they attain by supporting special-needs people through sustainable employment and other measures. Max didn’t move to Bangkok in search of business opportunities nor did she have any idea that she’d ever become an entrepreneur. She was an SEN teacher in Bangkok for 4 years until she discovered the lack of social and educational support for adults with SEN. She then decided to leave her job as a teacher and collaborated with her co-founder, Theera, to build the social enterprise they have today.

Theera and Max
Theera and Max

Max defines the term “social enterprise” as, “Helping a social cause whilst developing sustainable business opportunities – which in turn creates wider awareness and acceptance.” Max’s answer varies from my own personal definition of social entrepreneurship, and probably varies from your very own definition. But that’s okay. What I’ve learned while traveling in Southeast Asia, and working with many social enterprises, is that we all define this term differently.

Steps with Theera
Steps with Theera

Despite the disparity amongst definitions, there is a common theme amongst the international definitions of social entrepreneurship. And I believe that it is finding the symbiotic relationship between one’s chosen social cause and their means of entrepreneurship. It’s all in the balance between the two, which can vary from business to business. Social enterprises that you’ve most likely heard of such as Seventh Generation, Newman’s Own, and even Teach for America, all have different missions and their own unique ways of defining “social entrepreneurship” for themselves, but they all have mastered the balance between their social and fiscal goals.

All successful social enterprises, corporate or small-scale, have an unbreakable passion for their chosen social cause and a foundational mindset of what social entrepreneurship means to them. Throughout this trimester I have learned more about what social entrepreneurship means to me personally and to others that I’ve met in different countries. And after what I’ve seen in, I know that the entrepreneurial spirit is something that no one can take away from me, or anyone else who has it.

To learn more about Winterline’s relationship with social enterprises, please contact us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos of the Week 4/13

We cannot believe that the past Trimester is coming to an end! Our students have spent the last week working on their Independent Study Projects (ISPs) across Europe. Now they are headed to Prague to meet for their Spring Break, and before we know it they’ll be back in Boston with us at HQ! Check out the photos below from our students time in Europe. ISP photos are still rolling in so be sure to keep an eye out for a blog dedicated specifically to our students projects!

Tell us which photos are your favorite in the comments below! Don’t forget, every Friday we post photos of the week. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Alex showing some shoe at Castel dell'Ovo | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Alex showing some shoe at Castel dell’Ovo | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Erica making mosaic | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Erica making mosaic | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Alice hanging out with some swans at Leeds Castle
Alice hanging out with some swans at Leeds Castle
Anna in Italy
Anna in Italy
Meagan partnered with the Austrian National Council for her Independent Study Project (ISP)
Meagan partnered with the Austrian National Council for her Independent Study Project (ISP)
Caroline making mosaic | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Caroline making mosaic | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Alice in London's China Town
Alice in London’s China Town
Alex in Naples
Alex in Naples
Savannah checking out some mosaic tiles | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Savannah checking out some mosaic tiles | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Leeds Castle | Photo By: Alice Hart
Leeds Castle | Photo By: Alice Hart
Anna enjoying some escargot while on her ISP in France!
Anna enjoying some escargot while on her ISP in France!
Erica checking out some mosaic tiles | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Erica checking out some mosaic tiles | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Alice at Leeds Castle
Alice at Leeds Castle
Savannah making mosaic | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Savannah making mosaic | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Covent Garden London | Photo By: Alice Hart
Covent Garden London | Photo By: Alice Hart
Patrick making mosaic | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Patrick making mosaic | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat

Hope you enjoyed our photos of the week! Remember we post new photos every Friday. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

 

What to Expect from Trimester 2: An Interview with Alice Hart & Sophia Mizrahi

From left to right: Sophia, Alice and Anna at the National Museum of Cambodia
From left to right: Sophia, Alice and Anna at the National Museum of Cambodia

As our group finishes our second trimester, we’ve been doing some reflection about the last few months in Southeast Asia. I interviewed two of my best friends on the trip, Alice and Sophia. They each reflected on their own experiences in Cambodia, Thailand, and India, which was a lot of fun to see…

Why did you join Winterline this year?

 Alice: “I had known I was going to take a gap year and once I saw Winterline’s skills and the variety that they offered, I decided that I wanted to use this year to figure out what I want to do in the future. I wanted to use the skills to put me on track for my future career.”

Sophia: “I wanted to go to college immediately, but my mom was very open to the idea of a gap year and encouraged me to look into it. I was looking at gap year options, and I knew that I didn’t want to stay at home and work before college. At first, I was scared of being away from home for 9 months, but once I looked into the program I knew that it would provide me time to mature before college and allow me to grow, which it’s done.”

Alice cooking at Paul De Brule
Alice cooking at Paul de Brule

What has been your favorite place we have traveled to in the second trimester and why?

Alice: “It’s definitely between Cambodia and India. I loved Siem Reap in Cambodia. It was quiet, but at the same time there was a lot of access to different activities. I loved the different cultures and it was a great place to people watch, especially on Pub Street. I also loved learning to make different Cambodian dishes at Paul de Brule Cooking School and learning about hospitality.”

Sophia: “I loved Bangkok, Thailand. I spent a couple winters there as a child, so it was great to be back. Even though I was sick there with a sinus infection, I loved it so much. I really enjoyed the hustle-and-bustle of a really big city. I also enjoyed doing cooking school in Bangkok!”

Alice and Anna celebrating Holi, the Festival of Colors, in India.
Alice and Anna celebrating Holi, the Festival of Colors, in India.

What has been the greatest challenge during second trimester for you personally?

Alice: “I think living with other people is a challenge I’m still dealing with. It never becomes magically easy to do. I am also still figuring out how I can speak my truth to the group, but I also am learning to accept that people won’t always listen to me.”

Sophia: “Honestly, it’s been challenging to be sick a lot of this trimester. I really wanted to take time to appreciate where we have been, but I had a hard time doing that when I was constantly so physically sick.”

What has been the greatest reward during this trimester for you?

Alice: “I think still being able to learn new things about my peers even though we have all been together for so long. It’s been interesting to see new sides to these people, who I’ve lived with for so long, and I always learn something new from everyone.”

Sophia: “Even though it was a nightmare, my reward was getting through most of the bike ride in Siem Reap. I never thought I would be able to get through it, but it was really satisfying and a personal accomplishment for me.”

Taking a bike ride and making new friends| Photo By: Alice Hart
Southeast Asia Bike Ride| Photo By: Alice Hart

What advice/words of wisdom would you give someone who is contemplating taking a gap year with Winterline?

 Alice: “To have realistic expectations. A lot of people think that this program is a way to escape their own lives. And the truth is that your personal problems will follow you and you’re going to have to learn how to navigate these problems, especially with people you can’t walk away from. Learn to have the sympathy and empathy to manage your relationships within the group.”

Sophia: “You may want to go home. The whole year won’t be unicorns and rainbows. Your group is going to go through so much together as a family, but also remember to rely on people in your group for support. Also, keep your socks dry on NOLS and don’t get trench foot like I did!” 

Anna, Alice, and Sophia having lunch together in Asia.
Anna, Alice, and Sophia having lunch together in Asia.

Is there anything you wish you had known before going into this trimester?

Alice: “People will surprise you.”

Sophia: “I wish that I had packed a real jacket because it’s going to be so cold in Europe. Also, I wish I had known I would get more bug bites on my body and face in Southeast Asia than in Belize and Costa Rica. I was the only one!”

Alice and Sophia at the National Museum of Cambodia | Photo By: Anna Nickerson

Last question… What experience or expedition has been the most fun for you, during second trimester?

 Alice: “Sophia, Anna, and I had a “tourist” day on one of our rest days in Phnom Penh. We went to the National Museum of Cambodia, got massages, had lunch at a local restaurant, and explored some of the temples. It’s one of those days that will always be one of my favorite memories and just picture-perfect. I love my two best friends.”

Sophia: “My favorite day was when we went to the Bai Pai Cooking School in Bangkok, and then explored the mall afterwards. I was very proud of my cooking capabilities and for also navigating the huge city using public transportation.”

 

To learn more about our students be sure to check out the rest of our blog. We upload new posts three times a week!

Photos of the Week 4/6

Can you believe another week has come and gone? As of today all of our students are traveling on their ISPs. This means our students are traveling independently across Europe as they focus on a specific skill or skill set that interests them personally. We’ll have more photos from those adventures next week, but this week we’re sharing our favorite photos from our students finishing up their time traveling as a group together in Europe. Check out blue cohort behind the wheel at BMW and green cohort brushing up on their creative side in Venice.

Tell us which photos are your favorite in the comments below! Don’t forget, every Friday we post photos of the week. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Green Cohort all together | Photo By: Nick Manning
Green Cohort all together | Photo By: Nick Manning
Green Cohort all together | Photo By: Nick Manning
Green Cohort all together | Photo By: Nick Manning
Rebecca and Nick, Green Cohort FA's
Rebecca and Nick, Green Cohort FA’s
Andrew enjoying Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Andrew enjoying Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Alice enjoying Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Alice enjoying Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Blue Cohort at BMW Driving Experience | Photo From: Patrick Galvin
Blue Cohort at BMW Driving Experience | Photo From: Patrick Galvin
Blue Cohort at BMW Driving Experience | Photo From: Patrick Galvin
Blue Cohort at BMW Driving Experience | Photo From: Patrick Galvin
Blue Cohort at BMW Driving Experience | Photo From: Patrick Galvin
Blue Cohort at BMW Driving Experience | Photo From: Patrick Galvin
Erica and Cody at BMW Driving Experience
Erica and Cody at BMW Driving Experience
Blue Cohort at BMW Driving Experience
Blue Cohort at BMW Driving Experience | Photo From: Patrick Galvin
Blue Cohort at BMW Driving Experience | Photo From: Patrick Galvin
Blue Cohort at BMW Driving Experience | Photo From: Patrick Galvin
Meagan and Caroline at BMW Driving Experience
Meagan and Caroline at BMW Driving Experience
Blue Cohort at BMW Driving Experience | Photo From: Patrick Galvin
Blue Cohort at BMW Driving Experience | Photo From: Patrick Galvin
Blue Cohort at BMW Driving Experience | Photo From: Patrick Galvin
Blue Cohort at BMW Driving Experience | Photo From: Patrick Galvin
Erica and Cody at BMW Driving Experience
Erica and Cody at BMW Driving Experience
Climbing trees | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Climbing trees | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Authentic Italian Snacking | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Authentic Italian Snacking | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Alice enjoying some authentic fish and chips
Alice enjoying some authentic fish and chips
Savannah, Meagan, and Dini with their Robot | Photo From: Meagan Kindrat
Savannah, Meagan, and Dini with their Robot | Photo From: Meagan Kindrat
Robotics | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Savannah, Meagan and Dini’s Robot | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Having fun with masks in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Having fun with masks in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Andrew and Liam making masks in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Andrew and Liam making masks in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Masks in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Masks in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Mask making in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Hayden painting a mask in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Mask making in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Mask making in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Mask making in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Mask making in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Liam making a mask in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Liam making a mask in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Mask making in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Mask making in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Mask making in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Mask making in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Mask making in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Mask making in Venice | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Hayden and Alex in Venice
Hayden and Alex in Venice

Hope you enjoyed our photos of the week! Remember we post new photos every Friday. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

New Student Spotlight: Spencer Holtschult

The Winterline Global Skills Gap Year Program travels to 10 different countries over 9 months, where students learn 100 new life skills while traveling the world with their best friends.


Thinking about taking a gap year too?

LEARN MORE


THE CONCEPT OF A GAP YEAR PROGRAM IS STILL NEW FOR MANY STUDENTS. WHEN WERE YOU FIRST INTRODUCED TO THE IDEA OF TAKING A GAP YEAR?

I never thought taking a gap year was something I was ever gonna do, but as the school year went by and college decisions started coming out I decided taking a year to explore and find out what I wanted to do in life would be my best option.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

I chose to take a gap year because I wanted to avoid another year of generic education and expand my horizons by learning skills and experiencing all kinds of new cultures.

Spencer and his sisters on a family vacation in the snow
Spencer and his sisters on a family vacation in the snow

WHAT skill are you most excited to learn?

I can’t pin-point an exact skill I’m most excited to learn because all of them seem so fun and interesting to me.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?

As I’m closing in on the end of my senior year, I’ve realized more than ever that I really have no clue what I want to do in the future and I believe through this program I will gain knowledge that will better prepare me for my future.

HAVE YOU TRAVELED BEFORE? IF SO, WHICH TRIP HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?

Yes, but never outside the country. My favorite trip would have to be our family vacation to Hawaii. We did a lot of fun things including snorkeling, surfing, and swimming with manta rays.

Spencer Holtschult Winterline Gap Year
Spencer walking on the beach on the Big Island of Hawaii

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO GAIN FROM YOUR GAP YEAR PROGRAM AND WHILE TRAVELING ABROAD?

Something I expect to gain from my gap year is a new perspective on the world surrounding me. For my whole life I’ve grown up with the same friends, people, and always the same routine. I think finally breaking out of that bubble will give me a whole new perspective about the world and my place in it.

pencer with his twin sister and older sister
Spencer with his twin sister and older sister

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WANT YOUR FUTURE WINTERLINE PEERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I like to think I have a great sense of humor, I’m always down for an adventure and want have as much fun as possible even when in a bad situation!

Why WINTERLINE?

I felt that Winterline offered something that no other gap year program really offered…besides the amount of countries and skills you get to experience and learn, Winterline offers a sense of community and friendship within the group of kids that participate in this program and that was the one thing that really made this program stand out to me.

Spencer enjoying the sunset at a local beach
Spencer enjoying the sunset at a local beach

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I love listening to music, and although my moves are pretty bad it doesn’t stop me from dancing and having a great time!

To learn more about our students be sure to check out other posts on our blog. We upload new posts three times a week! Also, be sure to catch up with us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

 

Healthy Travel Tips

I have an impressively weak immune system and a knack for getting bizarre diseases and sicknesses. I have gotten a number of eye and ear infections while in Hawaii and California, stomach bugs in the Dominican Republic and Canada, and I even discovered I had a MRSA staph infection on my leg two days before leaving for Tanzania. I take my own health precautions more seriously when I travel to foreign countries to avoid malaria, the dreaded “Montezuma’s revenge,” and other travel-provoking illnesses. But unfortunately, within the last two months of trimester 2, I have gotten sick in every city that we’ve been to. Along the way, I’ve learned some things about my own health habits that I’d love to share.

Whether you decide to take a gap year with Winterline, or a family vacation, these tips will help you stay healthier and happier abroad…

#1) Take Daily Probiotics

I always take daily probiotics, whether I am traveling or at home, but it can get easy to slack off on remembering to take these pills every morning. Set a reminder on your phone for the same time every day (and adjust it when you change time zones) so that you remember to take that probiotic every day. Your gut will thank you.

#2) Exercise Regularly

I find it extremely difficult to fit in time (or space) for exercise while traveling. Spending only 20 minutes a day to go on a long walk, roll out the yoga mat, or go for a swim will keep your body so much stronger and up for the toll that travel has on the body. I have found many simple exercises that you can do without any equipment online and recommend coming up with a plan that will keep yourself accountable to your physical wellbeing while traveling.

Anna biking in Cambodia with Winterline student, Alex. | Photo from: Anna Nickerson
Anna biking in Cambodia with Winterline student, Alex. | Photo from: Anna Nickerson

#3) Everything in Moderation (even moderation, sometimes)

One of the biggest challenges for a lot of people this trimester has been eating healthy. With all the amazing new food in different countries, there are plenty of healthy options to explore. But there are also Burger Kings on every corner of Phnom Penh and 7-11’s in Bangkok, which can be tempting, especially when you’re homesick. The way I have been able to avoid this issue is to allow myself “treats” such as an ice cream bar on a particularly hot day or a soda with dinner. It has helped me immensely to not be strict with my diet, but to keep in mind that almost everything I eat should be in moderation. Encourage yourself and your travel buddies to try the local street food and skip the McDonalds.

Anna enjoying a local cafe with fellow Winterline Gapper, Alice. | Photo by: Anna Nickerson
Anna enjoying a local cafe with fellow Winterline Gapper, Alice. | Photo by: Anna Nickerson

#4) Get Good Sleep!  

This is a huge one that I am convinced has caused a lot of my sicknesses this trimester. I have gotten into the pattern of staying up late to watch Netflix, talk to friends, or work on my writing, and then needing to get up early for program days. I try to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night, program day or not, and reserve my late nights for the weekends. It’s easier said than done, but once you get into this habit, which can be aided by incorporating melatonin or meditation into your nightly routine, you will avoid getting sick.

#5) Drink CLEAN Water

I may or may not have gotten sick in Phnom Penh because I wasn’t careful about where my drinking water/ice was coming from in restaurants. It’s obviously important to drink water, whether you’re traveling or not. For me, this looks like carrying around a Nalgene and filling it up with bottled or filtered water in the hotels and hostels. Don’t be afraid to ask your waiter if their water is filtered or bottled, and even ask them to see their water filter. It’s your health, and it’s your responsibility to make sure that you are consuming clean water and ice. I learned that the hard way, so don’t make that mistake!

Anna exploring with water in tow. | Photo From: Anna Nickerson
Anna exploring with water in tow. | Photo From: Anna Nickerson

#6) Go to the Hospital (if necessary)

My automatic assumption was that healthcare in Southeast Asia was bad. I had to put this stereotype to the test when I went to an international hospital in Bangkok due to my incessant cough attacks and fatigue. It was the most beautiful hospital I had ever been to and the staff was amazing. I was diagnosed with acute bronchitis, got my medication, and was on my way. Obviously not all hospital experiences around the world will be like this, but don’t push the idea of going to a hospital aside, especially when you really need it. Do your research before going to the hospital, and have a friend evaluate you to see if you really even need to go.

This brings me right to my most important tip…

#7) DO YOUR RESEARCH

Before I left for Southeast Asia, I had a check-up with my physician. I showed her the list of the countries and cities I’d be visiting and she showed me how to look up medical facts about each place that are vital to know if you want to be an informed traveler. All of this information is available through the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov). If you want to stay healthy, you absolutely have to do your research well before traveling to a new country.

Anna researching the next steps of her adventure while abroad.

I will be the first person to say that being sick while traveling is not fun. The physical toll it has taken on my body also infringes on my ability to be present on Winterline somedays, and I wish I had taken even more precautions before entering Southeast Asia. Make your health a priority, and I promise your experience anywhere in the world will be so much more worthwhile!

Photos of the Week 3/30

During their time in Vienna, our blue and green cohorts got to share in learning about robotics. Their time together was a blast and we are excited for our groups to be combined again later in the Trimester. Green cohort is now in Venice where they are learning about mask-making and mosaics while Blue cohort has headed to Germany to test their skills behind the wheel at BMW Driving Experience.

Tell us which photos are your favorite in the comments below! Don’t forget, every Friday we post photos of the week. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Dini and Savannah in Italy. | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Italy | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Italy | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Elaine in Venice | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Patrick in Austria | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Patrick in Austria | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Savannah and Elaine making masks in Venice | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Hayden in Austria | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Andrew and Alice in Italy
Andrew and Alice in Italy
Dini making a mask in Venice | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Learning about Robotics in Austria | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Meagan in Italy
John making a mask in Venice | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Italy | Photo By: Alice Hart
Italy | Photo By: Alice Hart
Whitaker making a mask in Venice | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Learning about Robotics in Austria | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Liam, Lex, and Andrew in Italy | Photo By: Alice Hart
Liam, Lex, and Andrew in Italy | Photo By: Alice Hart
Playing in Austria | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Italy | Photo By: Alice Hart
Italy | Photo By: Alice Hart
Learning robotics in Austria | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Savannah making a mask in Venice | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Mosaic tiles in Italy | Photo By: Alice Hart
Mosaic tiles in Italy | Photo By: Alice Hart
Learning about Robotics in Austria | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Elaine making a mask in Venice | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Austria | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Austria | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Blue cohort making masks in Venice | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Savannah making a mask in Venice | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Learning about Robotics in Austria | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Italy | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Whitaker making a mask in Venice | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Whitaker, Lex, and Sam in Austria

Hope you enjoyed our photos of the week! Remember we post new photos every Friday. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

New Student Spotlight: Abby Dulin

The Winterline Global Skills Gap Year Program travels to 10 different countries over 9 months, where students learn 100 new life skills while traveling the world with their best friends.


Thinking about taking a gap year too?

LEARN MORE


THE CONCEPT OF A GAP YEAR PROGRAM IS STILL NEW FOR MANY STUDENTS. WHEN WERE YOU FIRST INTRODUCED TO THE IDEA OF TAKING A GAP YEAR?

I first learned about a gap year in high school and it struck my interest. I did further research on it and found out that a gap year is exactly what I wanted to do. I never thought I would take one because I didn’t know there were programs that gave you the opportunity to travel and learn new skills.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

I chose to take a gap year because I really have no idea what I want to do with my life. I am almost finished with a year of community college. I got most of my gen ed classes out of the way, but I don’t know what to do next. With everything Winterline has to offer, I know I will come out confident in what I want to do.

Abby Dulin Winterline Gap Year 2018-2019
Abby with family. 

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

Honestly, it’s hard to pick just one because so many of them excite me, but if I had to narrow it down I’d say photography, videography, or scuba diving.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO IN THE FUTURE?

I’m really not sure what I want to do in the future, which is why I am taking this gap year.

Abby adventuring.

HAVE YOU TRAVELED BEFORE? IF SO, WHICH TRIP HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?

Yes, I mainly travel around the states and I started traveling alone when I was 15. I have been out of the country once to Costa Rica and that was my favorite trip. From snorkling to body surfing, Costa Rica just gave off a really good vibe that made it a fun time.

WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO GAIN FROM YOUR GAP YEAR PROGRAM AND WHILE TRAVELING ABROAD?

I hope to become more independent and overall a more well-rounded person. I am excited to see all of the different cultures and environments and learn from every experience.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WANT YOUR FUTURE WINTERLINE PEERS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU?

I am a little shy when I first meet people, but I really open up once I get to know them. Don’t be surprised if you see me laughing at absolutely nothing because my mind runs wild, you’ll get used to it. Oh yeah and don’t take anything I say seriously because I am very sarcastic.

Abby (right) smiling with a friend.

WHY WINTERLINE?

Winterline offers everything that I’m looking for from the skills to the travel. I looked at other gap year programs, but nothing compared.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I’ve lived in 6 different states, which opened my eyes to traveling. I love photography and videography, so I will definitely be taking lots of photos and videos on this trip. One last thing, I can say the alphabet backwards and juggle, but not at the same time.

To learn more about our students be sure to check out our blog. We upload new posts three times a week!

 

Backcountry Medicine as a Life Skill: An Interview with Shantanu Pandit

Backcountry medicine is easily one of my favorite skills we’ve focused on during Winterline. One of our first skills during 1st trimester was with NOLS in Lander, Wyoming when we spent two days learning in our Wilderness First Aid course. And most recently, we completed a three-day Aerie course in the Mahindra United World College Institute, located in a rural part of Maharashtra, India. The course included both lecture-style and hands-on learning in the areas of disaster response and austere/backcountry medicine. I had the pleasure of interviewing one of our three instructors, Shantanu Pandit. He shared some of his personal experiences with backcountry medicine and his passion for working and living in the outdoors… Thank you, Shantanu!

Who are you? What motivates you?

Shantanu: “I [am] an outdoorsperson who is also interested in outdoor education. I have derived immense joy and happiness in the outdoors – hiking, climbing, a bit of rafting, ‘outdoor educating’ and …many a times just doing nothing! I know that each time I have been out I have benefited tremendously as a person. What motivates me today is to have people experience the outdoors in such a way that it is safe and enriching for not only us visitors but also our various environments (e.g., natural, socio-cultural, archaeological, etc.). I believe that it is essential for us to keep experiencing the natural environment and help sustain that environment.”

Winterline Back country medicine
Shantanu working on the Himalayan section of the Aerie WEMT semester, on search-and-rescue navigation exercises. | Photo by: Iris Saxer and Shantanu Pandit

What sparked your passion for being and working in the outdoors?

Shantanu: “I have always lived close to a mountainous area near Mumbai, India. This region is extremely rich in its cultural ethos. I started hiking when in school. Things that I had read in books started coming alive for me as I continued going outdoors… and this soon was a ‘more real’ reality for me than the urban setting that I was brought up in. Eventually, experiencing the Himalaya sealed it. If I have to name the most important aspect that provided the reason for working in the outdoors then it is the sheer sense of comfort that I felt being in the outdoors. This was home.”

 

What is the best outdoors trip you’ve ever done?

Shantanu: “How can one ever answer that question?! The most rewarding bird-watching trip I have had till now was in Sikkim… the most memorable rafting trip I had was not because of the rafting, but because of the riotous group that I was a part of… there have been several life-changing experiences (being a part of the team that attempted the third highest mountain in the world & the NOLS Instructor Course, to take but two examples)… I am afraid I cannot name one trip, sorry!”

 

Can you give the overview of Aerie Backcountry Medicine? What does it teach and what is its mission?

Shantanu: “Aerie Backcountry Medicine is a Montana based for-profit organization that teaches wilderness and rural first aid in the United States and other countries. I think Aerie is enriched because people from various walks of life work with its courses. I see Aerie as an agile organization that adapts to various geographies and cultures in order to effectively teach and spread safe practices. Despite its national and international presence, I have experienced Aerie as an organization that is kind of small enough to have an extremely warm and friendly organization culture… The stated mission of Aerie Backcountry Medicine is ‘Caring for injured or sick people is a privilege. Preparing people for this service is Aerie’s mission.’”

Winterline Back country medicine
Shantanu working on the Himalayan section of the Aerie WEMT semester, on search-and-rescue navigation exercises. | Photo by: Iris Saxer and Shantanu Pandit

 

When were you first introduced to backcountry medicine?

Shantanu: “I was introduced to backcountry medicine in 1987 when a friend who is a doctor-mountaineer started teaching us first aid in the context of outdoors. When I took my Wilderness First Responder course in 2000 (through WMI of NOLS), I got to know the richness of backcountry medicine in its formal and vibrant form. On a peak climbing expedition, while hiking up to the base camp, one of our porters got hit in the face by a falling rock that had bounced off the ground in front of him. This person was ‘responsive to verbal stimuli’ when I reached his camp in the night. After I gave first aid, I cautioned his brother to have the patient sleep in the ‘recovery position’ only and keep a tab on his breathing and explained the reasons behind this. I think that was a good call. The patient was successfully evacuated the next day (fortunately he was LOR x 4 by that time).”

 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Shantanu: “Being a part of a community that teaches safe practices that influence safety of people in the outdoors and the environments that we derive so much pleasure and joy from. Teaching/instructing also keeps me on my toes in terms of updated knowledge and practices, skill-levels, etc.”

Winterline Back country medicine
Shantanu hiking on a NOLS course | Photo by: Iris Saxer and Shantanu Pandit

What advice do you have for people who haven’t taken any first-aid or medical training courses?

Shantanu: “Take any course that you can afford, ideally a ‘wilderness first aid course’ (‘wilderness’ is defined as being one hour away from definitive medical care – a definition that fits so many urban situations also). First aid skills are a ‘life skill’.”

 

What advice do you have for our own group of Green Cohort students moving into our last months of traveling together?

Shantanu: “Develop the skill and habit of ‘reflection’… make it a part of your daily life. Reflection on one’s experiences – be it a small incident, a day or a course/project – leads to tremendous learning and growth. Shared reflection and/or feedback from others is more powerful. All the Best!”

 

If you have any questions about taking a backcountry medicine course, please visit the NOLS and Aerie sites, or feel free to contact us!

Photos of the Week 3/23

Earlier this week our green cohort arrived in Munich, Germany while our blue cohort has settled into Venice, Italy. The past week has consisted of much excitement in regards to cooler weather, new skills, and of course amazing European food! Yesterday green cohort got into the driver’s seat with BMW where they learned defensive driving and spent most of the day behind the wheel of a beamer. Blue cohort has been focusing on the arts in Italy. Mask-making, photography, and glass blowing are just a few of the skills they will touch on while they’re there. In addition to getting the creative juices flowing, they got the chance to celebrate the birthday of our student, Savannah. Can you think of a better place to celebrate your birthday than Venice? We’re not sure if we can! Check out the photos below to get a look into the past week for yourself!

Don’t forget, every Friday we post photos of the week. Come back next week to see photos from our students time in Europe! To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Munich | Photo By: Alice Hart
Munich | Photo By: Alice Hart
Savannah in Venice | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Savannah in Venice | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Green Cohort at BMW Driving Experience
Venice | Photo By: Savannah Pallazola
Venice | Photo By: Savannah Pallazola
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Savannah celebrating her birthday in Venice
Savannah celebrating her birthday in Venice | Photo By: Erica Schultz
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Meagan gliding through Venice | Photo By: Savannah Pallazola
Meagan gliding through Venice | Photo By: Savannah Pallazola
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Venice | Photo By: Savannah Pallazola
Venice | Photo By: Savannah Pallazola
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Natanielle behind the wheel at BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Hayden and Alex at BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Andrew at BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Andrew at BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Alice and Liam behind the wheel at BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Alice and Liam behind the wheel at BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Munich | Photo By: Alice Hart
Munich | Photo By: Alice Hart
Munich | Photo By: Alice Hart
Munich | Photo By: Alice Hart
Munich | Photo By: Alice Hart
Munich | Photo By: Alice Hart
Anna in Munich | Photo By: Alice Hart
Anna in Munich | Photo By: Alice Hart

Hope you enjoyed our photos of the week! Remember we post new photos every Friday. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

The Highs and Lows of Time Traveling

The following blog contains graphic descriptions of the Cambodian Killing Fields and strife Cambodian people experienced. Though I highly encourage you to read on, their stories can be extremely intense and might not be suited for all readers.

One month ago, our little Green Gang reunited in the Los Angeles airport to embark on the larger portion of our nine-month travel program. Next stop: Cambodia. 3 plane rides, 30 hours of travel, and the loss of January 21st (rest in peace). It was a draining day, but most of us were just happy to see each other again. There were so many questions to ask about our time spent apart; the air was buzzing with intrigue and excitement. For a lot of us it was our first time in Cambodia, or Southeast Asia itself, and no knew quite what to expect.

The first thing that hit me when we got off the plane was the familiar smell that is unique to the environment of Southeast Asia. I relaxed immediately as a combination of dust, fried foods, tropical plants, warmth, and faint hints of the sheer cloth of pollution that envelops the region filled my lungs. Contrary to what you might think, it’s inviting, and as someone who’s grown up travelling back and forth from India, it felt like home.

Photo By: Leela Ray
Photo By: Leela Ray

The air was thick with humidity and heat; sweat beaded on everyone’s temples as we clamoured to get on the large (air conditioned) charter bus sent to take us to our hostel. Finally, in a sleep-deprived stupor, we lugged our backpacks, duffle bags, daypacks, and spare miscellaneous objects into our respective rooms and, save for some 3am wake-up calls courtesy of jet-lag, we slept for the next twelve hours before diving into our second trimester.

To say I’m unaffected by most things would be an overstatement, however I can say that travelling for four months and constantly experiencing new things has created a me that is far less anxious or attached to trivial matters. I’m by no means enlightened, but I am far better at seeing the big picture, and I breathe easier knowing that this too, whatever it is, shall pass. All that being said, I was struck by the intensity and grief that presented itself to me at the Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre in Phnom Penh. We’d been in Cambodia all of three days and I already was seeing things I never expected, let alone was aware of.

I’m not necessarily well versed in world history, it’s a small stain on my otherwise acceptable school record, but it was astonishing to find that only a small handful of us knew about the Cambodian genocide that occurred from 1975-1978. Communism was on the rise, and with some of the US bombings of Vietnam spilling into Cambodia, there was a perfect opportunity for one Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge to quickly rise to power. With the intent of returning Cambodia to an agrarian society, Pol Pot persecuted the educated intellectuals and those who rejected his ideals, along with the sick, old, young, and weak. Those persecuted were sent first to prisons, and then to killing fields, where a third of the Cambodian population perished.

Photo By: Leela Ray
Photo By: Leela Ray
Photo By: Leela Ray
Photo By: Leela Ray

We witnessed one of these mass graves. I still don’t have all the words to describe it. I will forever struggle to fathom the scale on which so many people were not just murdered, but tortured and maimed. Though I’ve seen memorials like this, in Israel and India, they never fail to stop me in my tracks. The tyranny and sadistic acts of Pol Pot the Khmer Rouge rivaled those of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime, and yet rarely anyone in westernized nations knows what happened.

Victims of Choeung Ek were men, women, children, and infants; they were mostly from Sector 21, a Khmer Rouge operated prison. Kept in the dark, both literally and figuratively, these tortured and starved individuals were shuttled to the repurposed orchard in the middle of the night under the guise of being brought to another prison. Upon arrival, they were immediately sent to a violent death. Because bullets and gunpowder were deemed too expensive, officers of the Khmer Rouge made use of the farming tools that previous inhabitants had left behind. Everyday items such as backhoes and shovels became weapons of mass murder, and chemicals were sprayed upon the dying to seal their fate. Pop music blared on loudspeakers that hung from a large tree in the centre of the camp to drown out the screaming. It was this and the ominous hum of a large diesel generator that serenaded these souls to their death. Corpses were packed tightly into pits not much larger than king sized beds, with bones upon bones upon bones, their graves just as ghastly as their living conditions. Despite being excavated a few decades ago, heavy rains still drag bones up through the soil, and scrapes of clothing protrude from the dusty earth.

It was difficult to start out our trip with such a harrowing experience, but ultimately it made me look at each Cambodian person with an elevated sense of respect. After all, you could look around and it was apparent that an entire generation was missing from the streets. Every face you saw knew someone who either perished or was still lost to them, yet somehow the Cambodian people still found a way to smile and live life to its fullest.

Leela's mixology instructor in Cambodia | Photo By: Leela Ray
Leela’s mixology instructor in Cambodia | Photo By: Leela Ray
Alice in Cambodia | Photo By: Leela Ray
Alice in Cambodia | Photo By: Leela Ray

Following our history lesson, we spent the next two weeks learning how to draw, use animation software, sharpen our bargaining skills, mix the perfect drink, explore and navigate different communication styles, and live purposefully. Though I wish I could write a little about everything, that many words would keep even me struggling to stay attentive. So here is where I leave you, at the end of Phnom Penh and the beginning a five hour bus ride to the Siem Reap. I’ve made new friends, strengthened relationships with old ones, gained more insight and respect for different cultures, and finally begun to settle into the routine of once again living my life from seventy litres of canvas. At the end of it all this much is certain: even being 8000 miles away from everything I know, I feel more at home than I ever have, and I can’t wait to see what antics we get up to next.

T0 hear more from our Leela and our other students check out our student voices page.

Photos of the Week 3/16

Seems like just yesterday our students were arriving for orientation in Colorado, and now they’re wrapping up Trimester 2! At the beginning of next week our students will be off to Europe to take on the adventure that is Trimester 3. There time in Southeast Asia the past couple months has been eye-opening, life-changing, and quite frankly..FUN! To hear more about their adventures be sure to check out the student voices page on our blog. To see their travels for yourself, take a look at these photos from their last couple days in India. In this post you’ll also find some photos we just received from other places they visited in Southeast Asia. We can’t wait to see what these groups do next!

Don’t forget, every Friday we post photos of the week. Come back next week to see photos from our students time in Europe! To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Our students are always learning new skills! | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Our students are always learning new skills! | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
One of the best things about visiting a new place is learning from the people who live there. | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
One of the best things about visiting a new place is learning from the people who live there. | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Learning new skills together. | Photo from: Meagan Kindrat
Learning new skills together. | Photo from: Meagan Kindrat
Dini learning new skills | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Dini learning new skills | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
India | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
India | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Cody enjoying India | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Cody enjoying India | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
How beautiful is this photo of Dini in India? | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
How beautiful is this photo of Dini in India? | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Dini enjoying the view | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Dini enjoying the view | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
A new little friend is watching | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
A new little friend is watching | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Elaine and Cody doing some food prep. | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Elaine and Cody doing some food prep. | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Elaine in India | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Elaine in India | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Liam in Thailand | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Liam in Thailand | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Patrick and Anna at a soccer game back in Thailand | Photo from: Anna Nickerson
Patrick and Anna at a soccer game back in Thailand | Photo from: Anna Nickerson
Kayaking at Mahindra United World College | Photo By: Erica Schultz (Field Advisor)
Blue Cohort Kayaking at Mahindra United World College | Photo By: Erica Schultz (Field Advisor)
Kayaking at Mahindra United World College | Photo By: Erica Schultz (Field Advisor)
Kayaking at Mahindra United World College | Photo By: Erica Schultz (Field Advisor)
Kayaking at Mahindra United World College | Photo By: Erica Schultz (Field Advisor)
Elaine Kayaking at Mahindra United World College | Photo By: Erica Schultz (Field Advisor)
Anna working on a bike in Cambodia | Photo From: Anna Nickerson
Anna working on a bike in Cambodia | Photo From: Anna Nickerson
Liam, Anna, and Patrick serving up some world class hospitality in Cambodia. | Photo From: Anna Nickerson
Liam, Anna, and Patrick serving up some world class hospitality in Cambodia. | Photo From: Anna Nickerson
Glitter Latte in Mumbai | Photo By: Savannah Pallazola
Glitter Latte in Mumbai | Photo By: Savannah Pallazola
Learning new skills in India | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Learning new skills in India | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Farming and cooking at Santulana | Photo By: Alice Hart
Farming and cooking at Santulana | Photo By: Alice Hart
Hayden in India | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Hayden in India | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Natanielle making a new friend in India | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Natanielle making a new friend in India | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Cow Kisses | Photo By: Alice Hart
Cow Kisses | Photo By: Alice Hart
Blue cohort having fun at laser tag! | Photo By: Erica Schultz (Field Advisor)
Blue cohort having fun at laser tag! | Photo By: Erica Schultz (Field Advisor)
Laser tag! | Photo By: Erica Schultz (Field Advisor)
Laser tag! | Photo By: Erica Schultz (Field Advisor)
Blue cohort ready for some laser tag! | Photo From: Erica Schultz (Field Advisor)
Blue cohort ready for some laser tag! | Photo From: Erica Schultz (Field Advisor)

Hope you enjoyed our photos of the week! Remember we post new photos every Friday. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Thank you, Cambodia.

I had just finished my delicious seafood fried rice and dragon fruit smoothie at a local Khmer restaurant down the street from my hostel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I started heading back to the hostel to fill up my water before going back to the yoga studio where programming was that day. As I made it into my room, I quickly realized that I had misplaced my sunglasses (an absolute necessity under the scorching southeast Asian sun). I tore my room apart trying to find them, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. I half-heartedly accepted the loss, but as I walked back I stopped at the restaurant anyways. I asked the hostess if I had left my sunglasses at my lunch table, but she told me the staff hadn’t seen any. I thanked her and walked away from the restaurant. I crossed a couple busy streets with tuk-tuks, motorcycles, taxis, and people on bicycles weaving in and out of the traffic, and I eventually made it to a sidewalk when I heard someone behind me yelling. Assuming it was a street vendor or tuk-tuk driver trying to get my attention, I ignored it. But after a few seconds, I turned around curiously. A man on a motorcycle stopped next to me and waved. I recognized him from the restaurant as he handed me my sunglasses. He smiled as I thanked him repeatedly, and then we both carried on in our opposite directions.

This all took place on my first full day in Cambodia, and I feel that this little anecdote fully encapsulates my 3-week experience in Cambodia. Earlier that same morning, we had been with our regional director who was giving us an orientation of the country. He told us the precautions we needed to take in order to prevent theft and assault, and how to maximize our personal safety. Given that it was my first day in a new city, country, and continent, I had my guard up, especially with my newfound knowledge of Phnom Penh’s dangers. My experience with the man and my sunglasses completely altered my view of the Cambodian people, and shifted my perception of where I was.

Phnom Penh | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Phnom Penh | Photo By: Anna Nickerson

As most of my friends and family know, I hate big cities. They tend to be overcrowded, loud, dirty, and congested, all of which are things that stress me out. I hardly find myself going out of my way to get into a city; typically, I do just the opposite. Being from both Washington State and Colorado, I have become accustomed to living in more rural and natural environments with easy access to the ocean and rivers and forests and mountains. First trimester’s somewhat rural settings of Wyoming, Belize, and Costa Rica were right up my alley. But upon arriving to Phnom Penh, I knew it would be a challenge for me to assimilate to “big city living.” After my encounter with the man from the restaurant, I found myself looking for more positive aspects of being in a big city rather than dwelling on the things I hated about it. No longer afraid or extremely weary of my environment, I naturally became more accustomed to Phnom Penh, and genuinely appreciated what it had to offer, even though it wasn’t where I was actively choosing to live.

Tuk Tuk | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Tuk Tuk | Photo By: Anna Nickerson

I went out of my way to break through my own discomforts about being in the city, which didn’t come as naturally to me as it did to most people in my group. I forced myself to cross the street without hesitation, holding my ground with the motorcycles and tuk-tuks zooming in and out around me (and not letting myself freak out). I stayed open-minded about eating the local cuisine by eating at different restaurants and cafes, night markets, and street vendors. I even made an effort to take Natanielle’s advice of “speaking smile” by smiling at the locals, even if I couldn’t speak with them in their native language.

The overarching lesson I learned from that occurrence on my first day in Phnom Penh is that both receiving and giving little acts of kindnesses, especially while traveling abroad, can become pivotal moments that alter your view of where you are, how you act, and the culture around you. I want to thank that man from the restaurant, wherever he is and whatever he is doing. His act of hospitality and kindness allowed me to see Cambodia for what it is: an amazing country that has gone through immense loss, yet is filled with some of the kindest and genuine people I’ve encountered.

Thank you to that man, and thank you to Cambodia.

To hear more from our Anna check out our student voices page, as well as her personal blog.

 

 

 

 

Photos of the Week 3/9

Can you believe Trimester 2 has almost come to an end? Over the past couple months our students have traveled across Southeast Asia where they’ve tried their hand at skills like animation, mixology, cooking, and navigation. They also had a great time celebrating Holi, the Hindu festival of colors and spring, with the students of UWC. For those who are unfamiliar, Holi marks the end of the winter season and the beginning of abundance that will come with the upcoming spring harvest. People celebrate Holi by smearing colored powder on each other’s faces, spraying colored water, and dancing. Sound like a blast? It looks even more fun than it sounds. Check out our students photos below from their celebration. We cannot wait to see what the last bit of Trimester 2 holds for our cohorts, and we’re even more excited to see the adventures they embark on during Trimester 3.

Additionally, to hear more from our students abroad, check out our student Anna’s blog! She has recently updated her site with a post about her time in Cambodia. Let us know your favorite photos of the week in the comments below! To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Andrew walking in Maharashtra | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Andrew walking in Maharashtra | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Sweet new friend abroad | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Sweet new friend abroad | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Elaine and Whitaker celebrating Holi at MUWCI | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Elaine and Whitaker celebrating Holi at MUWCI | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Happy Holi from Green Cohort and Friends! | Photo By: Leela Ray
Happy Holi from Green Cohort and Friends! | Photo By: Leela Ray
Natanielle and Alice covered in colors after Holi | Photo From: Alice Hart
Natanielle and Alice covered in colors after Holi | Photo From: Alice Hart
Meagan celebrating Holi at MUWCI | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Meagan celebrating Holi at MUWCI | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Patrick and Liam having a blast celebrating Holi | Photo By: Leela Ray
Patrick and Liam having a blast celebrating Holi | Photo By: Leela Ray
Savannah having fun at Holi at MUWCI | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Savannah having fun at Holi at MUWCI | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Alice and Anna enjoying Holi | Photo From: Alice Hart
Alice and Anna enjoying Holi | Photo From: Alice Hart
Alice and Anna post Holi | Photo From: Anna Nickerson
Alice and Anna post Holi | Photo From: Anna Nickerson
Patrick covered in paint while celebrating Holi | Photo By: Leela Ray
Patrick covered in paint while celebrating Holi | Photo By: Leela Ray
Blue cohort's girl squad having a blast at MUWCI | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Blue cohort’s girl squad having a blast at MUWCI for Holi| Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Blue Cohort celebrating Holi at MUWCI | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Blue Cohort celebrating Holi at MUWCI | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Liam and Patrick celebrating Holi | Photo By: Leela Ray
Liam and Patrick celebrating Holi | Photo By: Leela Ray
Caroline and Erica celebrating Holi at MUWCI | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Caroline and Erica celebrating Holi at MUWCI | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Patrick, Liam, and Leela at Holi | Selfie from: Leela Ray
Patrick, Liam, and Leela at Holi | Selfie From: Leela Ray
Natanielle and Anna rocking their Saris. | Photo From: Anna Nickerson
Natanielle and Anna rocking their saris. | Photo From: Anna Nickerson
Anna and Alice also not sorry* about sporting their beautiful saris. | Photo From: Anna Nickerson
Anna and Alice also not sorry* about sporting their beautiful saris. | Photo From: Anna Nickerson

Hope you enjoyed our photos of the week! Remember we post new photos every Friday. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Photos of the Week 2/23

Another week has come and gone and so have many adventures for our gap year students! Both cohorts have finished up their time in Thailand and Cambodia and they are now beginning to arrive in India. Blue arrived in India on the 21st and green cohort began their journey their last night. During their time in India they will get to tour and connect with students at the United World College there as well as learn many new skills. We are so excited for what the remainder of Trimester 2 is about to bring! Check out these photos from their last week of adventures across Southeast Asia.

Let us know your favorite photos in the comments! To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook!

Beautiful shot of Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Beautiful shot of Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Thailand | Photo By: Susie Childs
Thailand | Photo By: Susie Childs
Thailand Views | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Thailand Views | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Students navigated to 10 sites in Bangkok with Bangkok Vanguards. Really fun race on all different modes of transportation. | Photo By: Susie Childs
Students navigated to 10 sites in Bangkok with Bangkok Vanguards. Really fun race on all different modes of transportation. | Photo By: Susie Childs
Monkey in Thailand | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Monkey in Thailand | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Green with Bangkok Vanguards | Photo courtesy of Susie Childs, Dean of Students
Green with Bangkok Vanguards | Photo courtesy of Susie Childs, Dean of Students
Cody chilling out in Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Cody chilling out in Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Thailand eats | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Thailand eats | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Sleepy kitty in Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Sleepy kitty in Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Green with Bangkok Vanguards | Photo courtesy of Susie Childs, Dean of Students
Green with Bangkok Vanguards | Photo courtesy of Susie Childs, Dean of Students
Thailand Views | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Thailand Views | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Green with Bangkok Vanguards | Photo courtesy of Susie Childs, Dean of Students
Green with Bangkok Vanguards | Photo courtesy of Susie Childs, Dean of Students
Patrick and Lex at the Thailand soccer game
Patrick and Lex at the Thailand soccer game
Green Cohort with our Partner Organization Bangkok Vanguards | Photo By: Susie Childs
Green Cohort with our Partner Organization Bangkok Vanguards | Photo By: Susie Childs
Thailand eats | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Thailand eats | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Thailand Views | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Thailand Views | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Thai cooking | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Working with The Jump organization to learn about customer service practices. | Photo Courtesy of Susie Childs, Dean of Students
Working with The Jump organization to learn about customer service practices. | Photo Courtesy of Susie Childs, Dean of Students
Arriving in India | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Arriving in India | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Green Cohort after arriving in Pune, India | Photo Courtesy of Susie Childs, Dean of Students
Green Cohort after arriving in Pune, India | Photo Courtesy of Susie Childs, Dean of Students

Hope you enjoyed our photos of the week! Remember we post new photos every Friday. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Home, Sweet Home? A Teenager’s Guide To Reverse Culture Shock

I’m back, and I have a lot of feelings.

Previously on “Leela’s Winterline Adventure” you took a step inside an amazing in-home bakery. What happened next? We drove to San Jose, spent a few final days debriefing, and then dispersed back across the United States and Europe to our respective families and friends. For seven weeks. I was ready to go home. Though trimester one was amazing, it was also one of the hardest periods of time in my life.

The biggest oversight I had when preparing for Winterline was that living with eleven other people wouldn’t be difficult. I’d been a part of multiple different programs where I was living as part of a larger group, and the social aspect of things had never been an issue. I feel like it should’ve been obvious, but it didn’t occur to me that when you take a dozen people from different states, ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and lifestyles and ship them over two thousand miles away from everything they know, there’s going to be some issues.

Reality set in, and suddenly I was hyper aware that everything I thought I knew about myself was a reflection of everyone else around me. In simpler terms? I discovered that 90% of my values and ideologies were just echoes of the people in my life.

Photo from Leela’s Holiday

Flash forward two months and I finally had a grasp on what I meant to myself. Two months of almost giving up. Two months of sitting by myself wondering if anyone would ever want to sit next to me. Two months of the most profound self-growth I have ever experienced. I became someone whom I didn’t recognise, and it was awesome. The woman looking back at me in the mirror stands taller, speaks clearer, and creates the world around her, rather than the world projecting onto her.

Yet, right when I felt like a new person, I was stuck with the reality of returning to a home where not much had changed. Before we left, we all got together to acknowledge how far we’d come, and we were forewarned of the dreaded “sameness” we would encounter upon our homecoming. Equipped with this knowledge, I braced myself, but the mental preparation was to no avail.

My parents asked me maybe four questions about my adventure, and my friends, save for those few special beings, asked me zero. It was like I had never left, and it was infuriating. As much as I love my friends, they were living the same days they always had. Granted, for some of them that meant fruitful productive lives, but I’m talking about the ones who spent more time envying my life (and then proceeding to either make resentful comments or completely avoid asking me about my travels at all) than focusing on what they could do to make theirs better. In fact, there’s a part of me that wishes I hadn’t told certain people when I’d be home, because ultimately, they wanted to hang out with me, but never found anything to do when we did. When I finally conceded to being in the company of these particular individuals they wouldn’t tell me about their lives, most likely because they were comparing our experiences, but wouldn’t ask me about my adventures either, probably for the exact same reason.

Photo from Leela’s Holiday

So yeah, that sucked, there’s no amount of eloquent wording I can use to disguise that, but it wasn’t all in vain. There wasn’t immediate acknowledgement of my growth, nor was I celebrated with fanfare and confetti. My recognition came in the form of a holiday party I wasn’t even planning to go to, full of food I couldn’t eat and drunk adults gambling with alcohol minis. It was my first appearance at any event since returning home, and I was immediately roped into conversation with a family friend. It was in this conversation that I received the most validating compliment I’ve ever gotten.

“You stand different,” she said, and I inflated like a balloon. Someone was finally noticing the person who now looks back at me in the mirror, I was elated. My struggles weren’t all for naught, because though she couldn’t pinpoint it, she saw me as I wanted to be seen. My outsides reflected my insides, and it wasn’t all in my head.

That excitement lasted all of five minutes, because pleasure is a temporary high, and I went home that night noticing I didn’t feel any different than from before I was given that compliment. Then I realized that it wasn’t a bad thing, because I felt good. I had always felt good, regardless of what was said. I knew intrinsically that I was different, and it was enough. I was chasing after something that ultimately just enabled me to see how much happier I was after my two months with Winterline.

Photo from Leela’s Holiday

Moral of the story (because you know there always is one): if you feel different, like really truly different, after having a life experience, chances are you are. The experience doesn’t have to be taking everything you know, throwing it out the window, and living out of a backpack for three months (although I won’t lie to you, it is a pretty good launch point). It can be as simple as starting a daily practice of something beneficial to your health and overall well-being. It doesn’t have to be a lot; making a mental note of people’s passions and mannerisms or making an effort to be extra intentional with your words is enough. In fact, these are the changes I made, travelling the world just gave me the right platform for commitment.

I’ll leave you with a quote from my high-school math teacher, who said the following: “Say you draw an infinite line from a vertex, and then draw a second infinite line just one degree off from the first. Although initially there is an almost undetectable distance between the two lines, ultimately you would find, if you were to follow them, that two points equidistant from the vertex would be miles from each other down the road.” In non-mathematical terms: it’s the littlest change that can make the biggest difference in the long run. So even if you’re not on a course like Winterline, try making a commitment to changing something small in your life, you never know where it will take you.

 

To hear more from our Gap Year students be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook. We’re also on Snapchat (@Winterliner).

Photos of the Week 2/16

Our students have had many adventures over the last week. Our blue and green cohorts were together in Cambodia earlier this week where our green cohort used their new cooking skills to cook a meal for our blue cohort. Much fun was had during their time spent together. Now our green cohort is off to Thailand where they will learn skills like urban navigation, customer service, and restaurant operation. Their time in Bangkok has been kicked off with Chinese New Year activities and city exploration. We can’t wait to hear more about their adventures as they unfold! Blue cohort is staying in Cambodia where they will explore temples at Angkor Wat and visit the countryside before heading to India on Tuesday. Check out the photos below for a first hand look at their skills and adventures.

Let us know your favorite photos in the comments! To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook

Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Blue Cohort | Photo By: Susie Childs
Blue Cohort | Photo By: Susie Childs
Dini enjoying Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Dini enjoying Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Cambodia | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Cambodia | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Cody in Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Cody in Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Whitaker exploring Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Whitaker exploring Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Sunset in Cambodia | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Sunset in Cambodia | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Pablo taking a selfie on Anna's camera in Cambodia
Pablo taking a selfie on Anna’s camera in Cambodia
Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Meagan and Samir in Cambodia | Photo From: Meagan Kindrat
Meagan and Samir in Cambodia | Photo From: Meagan Kindrat
John having fun in Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
John having fun in Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Our Field Advisor, Patrick, exploring Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Our Field Advisor, Patrick, exploring Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Charlie exploring | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Charlie exploring | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Monkey in Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Monkey in Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Meagan in Cambodia | Photo From: Meagan Kindrat
Meagan in Cambodia | Photo From: Meagan Kindrat
Anna and Lex biking in Cambodia | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Anna and Lex biking in Cambodia | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Field Advisor, Patrick in Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Field Advisor, Patrick in Cambodia | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Beautiful Cambodia | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Beautiful Cambodia | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Anna and Andrew in Cambodia
Anna and Andrew in Cambodia
Blue dining on the meal Green Cohort made them | Photo By: Susie Childs
Blue dining on the meal Green Cohort made them | Photo By: Susie Childs
Blue dining on the meal Green Cohort made them | Photo By: Susie Childs
Green Cohort together | Photo By: Susie Childs
Green Cohort together | Photo By: Susie Childs
Andrew learning archery | Photo By: Susie Childs
Andrew learning archery | Photo By: Susie Childs
Green Cohort Learning Archery | Photo By: Susie Childs
Green Cohort Learning Archery | Photo By: Susie Childs
Alex excited to be in Bangkok
Bangkok | Photo By: Alice Hart
Bangkok | Photo By: Alice Hart
Selfies in Bangkok | Photo By: Alice Hart
Selfies in Bangkok | Photo By: Alice Hart
Susie smiling in Bangkok

Hope you enjoyed our photos of the week! Remember we post new photos every Friday. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Living on Purpose: Interview with Matthew Fairfax

During our time in Phnom Penh, we had the privilege of meeting and learning from Matthew Fairfax, an inspiring entrepreneur and wonderful human being. We were first introduced to him in our mixology class and then took part in his 3-day course, “Living on Purpose.” We learned about a myriad of ideas that all built upon each other, leading us to consider how we can live our own lives with more purpose. During this interview, Matthew imparted wisdom and great insight with me… Thank you, Matthew!

How would you describe your job title/what you do for a living?

 Matthew: “This is a tough one.  I am a salon owner, Founder/Country Director of the Justice and Soul Foundation, and educator/trainer.  I also am a coach.  So, on any given day I may be wearing several hats.”

Why do you do this for a living? What drives and motivates you?

Matthew: “To get my intrinsic driving needs met! I love the variety I have, the feeling of giving back and helping people, the constant changing, and watching individuals discover new things about themselves.”

Matthew at a salon opening
Matthew at a salon opening

 When was the first time you were introduced to the idea of “Living with Purpose?”

 Matthew: “I think I’ve always operated on intuition, but when I took courses provided by Context International (now BeMoreU) my whole thought process shifted.  At that point, I started to redefine my life based on my driving needs. I created strategies that got these needs met constructively and started feeling very fulfilled. I moved from resent/revenge to creating a purpose-filled life.”

Since starting your own personal journey of learning to live on purpose, what are some of the most important lessons that you’d like to share with our audience?

 Matthew:

  1. Don’t run from the lesson or it will keep presenting itself to you – harder each time.
  2. Relationships are important and it is most important to embrace the reality of who that person is. Change your mind about them and watch great things happen.
  3. How I feel about me, determines how I feel about you. When I start to feel negative feelings about others, I stop and look at what might be lacking in me.
  4. Don’t let others make you wrong for how you create and find fulfillment. Not everyone needs “alone time” and not everyone wants to be around people and on the go all the time.  Find what works for you. I no longer listen when someone tells me to slow down.  I am living at the banquet table of life and there is no need to slow down for me.
  5. I determine what I am allowing to be most important to me based on my results. If I don’t have the results I want, I look at what I am giving my attention to.
  6. You can’t rush self-esteem.
  7. Listen twice as much as you speak. Ask good questions.
  8. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.
  9. Listen to your intuition – it is usually right.

 Can you briefly explain communication styles and why they are so important to understand and utilize in any context (work, social, relationships, etc.)?

Matthew: “Communication styles are at the core of all my training.  It is learning the language by which we all communicate.  Most conflict has its roots in communication styles.  When we learn to recognize other styles, we can modify our style temporarily to create better results.  At work, I get better team experiences and more productivity.  In my relationships, I get deeper, more meaningful relationships.  I tend to have way less conflict when I take the time to understand the needs of the styles I am communicating with.  Of course, it all starts with my choice and I cannot rely on the other person to change to meet my needs.  If I want the results, I must make the choice to meet their needs.”

Matthew at his hair salon in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with staff members
Matthew at his hair salon in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with staff members

What advice do you have for young adults, like students on Winterline, as they learn to navigate their lives independently?

 Matthew: “Be willing to risk, always stay open and ask questions EVEN IF YOU BELIEVE YOU ALREADY KNOW.  Remember, our filter is filled with input from others and we cling to those attitudes, opinions, and beliefs so we can be right.  I have seen too many people be right all the way to the wrong results.”

Do you have any specific advice for our green cohort of Winterline?

Matthew: “I LOVE YOUR ENERGY.  I love that you don’t always live in the boundaries.  Continue to be loud, ask good questions, challenge the status quo, but be respectful and law abiding in the process.  Learn to listen, drop your image, let people get to know the authentic you – that is where rich fulfilling life begins!”

 

—If you have any questions about this interview or Matthew’s philosophies, please contact us in the comments and we will be happy to provide resources and answers!—

 

 

Photos of the Week 2/9

Trimester 2 is all about people and culture, during this trimester our students have been mostly exploring urban landscapes and bigger cities in Asia (This week Cambodia). During the past week, our Blue cohort has been in Phnom Penh and they are now headed to Siem Reap where our Green cohort has been the past few days. Our students have been trying their hand at cooking, bike repair, new communication techniques and they have even been practicing with the circus! Check out the photos below to learn more about their skills and adventures.

Let us know your favorite photos in the comments below! To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook

Hayden exploring. | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga
Hayden exploring. | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga
Green cohort got the chance to practice their baking skills this week.
Green cohort got the chance to practice their baking skills this week.
Lotus Farms at Sunset | Photo By: Alice Hart
Lotus Farms at Sunset | Photo By: Alice Hart
Lotus Farms at Sunset | Photo By: Alice Hart
Lotus Farms at Sunset | Photo By: Alice Hart
Lotus Farms at Sunset | Photo By: Alice Hart
Anna exploring the Lotus Farms at sunset | Photo By: Alice Hart
The Green Cohort with the Circus
The Green Cohort having a blast with the Circus
Alice and Anna enjoying the sunrise at Angkor Wat
Alice and Anna enjoying the sunrise at Angkor Wat
Alice and Anna enjoying the sunrise at Angkor Wat
Cambodia | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga
Cambodia | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga
Taking a bike ride and making new friends| Photo By: Alice Hart
Taking a bike ride and making new friends| Photo By: Alice Hart
Hayden working on her bike skills | Photo By: Alice Hart
Hayden working on her bike skills | Photo By: Alice Hart
Cambodia | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga
Cambodia | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga
Cambodia | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga
Cambodia | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga
Cambodia | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga
Cambodia | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga
Savannah and Whitaker | Photo By: Caroline Dore
Savannah and Whitaker | Photo By: Caroline Dore
Cambodia | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga
Cambodia | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga
Pablo, Hayden, and Patrick enjoying the BBQ. | Photo By: Alice Hart
Pablo, Hayden, and Patrick enjoying the BBQ. | Photo By: Alice Hart
The Green Cohort enjoyed some traditional Khmer BBQ this week. | Photo By: Alice Hart
The Green Cohort enjoyed some traditional Khmer BBQ this week. | Photo By: Alice Hart
Anna and Andrew at Ankgor Wat
Anna and Andrew at Angkor Wat
Hayden mixing it up | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Hayden mixing it up | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Alex and Susie showcasing their cooking skills.
Lex and Susie showcasing their cooking skills.
Alice practicing cooking | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Alice practicing cooking her cooking skills | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Pablo, Lex, and Natanielle at Cooking School | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Pablo, Lex, and Natanielle at Cooking School | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Pablo at cooking school | Photo By: Alice Hart
Pablo at cooking school | Photo By: Alice Hart
Cambodia | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga
Cambodia | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga
Cambodia | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga
Cambodia | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga

Hope you enjoyed our photos of the week! Remember we post new photos every Friday. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Language Immersion in a Foreign Country: An Interview with Jessie Zúñiga Bustamante from the Monteverde Institute in Costa Rica

As one of our final skills in Costa Rica, our group had the opportunity to do 5-day “Independent Study Projects” of our choice. I chose an intensive Spanish course and absolutely loved it. I have taken Spanish in school for a total of six years, so I wanted to take advantage of this week because I want to become more fluent in the language. For five days, I met with two different professors, Evelyn and Jessie. We conversed entirely in Spanish for hours on end, focused on the verb tenses I struggle with, and even did cooking and dancing classes. I enjoyed my time with both my professors immensely and cannot express my gratitude for the two of them enough. Jessie kindly answered some of my questions about her position as a Spanish teacher and shared her take on education and language immersion.

How long have you been a Spanish teacher?

 Jessie: “I started teaching SSL (Spanish Second Language) in 2005 when I was a Spanish & Latin American Literature student in college, so I have 12 years of teaching now. Wow! I’m old, haha!”

Why are you a Spanish teacher? What inspired you to become a Spanish teacher?

Jessie: “[It’s] funny because I would not have thought about it, but one day, one of my professors at University of Costa Rica told me about a Spanish Academy that needed teachers during my college summer break, so I went there and got a job for that summer. I had a group of 4 students: Joe from the United States, Martina from Austria, and Damian and Anna from Germany. We were together for a month and it was awesome! We had so much fun and we learned so much [about] each other from cultures to languages, food, [and] personal space! At that moment, I learned that I love teaching. I love the chance of getting to know people from all over the world. So far, I have had students from the US, Canada, Brazil, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, India, Israel, Jordan, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, France, Italy, some African countries, Romania, Russia, China, South Korea, Japan…and so on. This is amazing because, through our conversations, I could learn a lot about their cultures…it’s like being in those countries somehow. These experiences made me a better person, more open and aware that differences are a good thing for humanity… So, I have been doing it since then! [I feel] so lucky!”

Winterline_Spanish_Immersion
Learning verb conjugations on day two! | Photo By: Anna Nickerson

How long have you been working at the Monteverde Institute?

Jessie: “I first came in January 2015 for a 4-month college course (I did the same in San José), then back to San José, and returned to Monteverde in December 2015 for a permanent position in the Spanish Department as a teacher and coordinator. Although I never thought I wanted to live outside San José, I decided to leave my comfort zone and try a different place and job position. It was a wise decision because I have learned a lot about my job, nature and conservation, grassroots projects, sustainability, etc. It is a pleasure to live and work in such a special and beautiful community like Monteverde.”

 What is your favorite part about working at the Monteverde Institute?

Jessie: “My favorite part is working with students in projects. I totally love the fact that MVI is a non-profit organization, so we do a lot for the community. Many courses have projects for building, interacting with elders or children, giving lectures on climate, conservation, etc., for the people here…It makes me feel proud to be part of an institution that cares so much and is involved with the people.”

What is something you find rewarding about your job?

Jessie: “I strongly believe in education. Education is the key for a better future. Not only for our country, but for our world. There are so much things we need to learn in this life, beginning with ourselves. So, being part of it somehow makes me feel happy and rewarded. If my work contributes to make someone connect with others through language or better culture understanding and respect, I’m more than happy. And since education is a two-way street, I also learn a lot from my students… this is where my satisfaction [in teaching] comes from.”

What advice do you have someone who is trying to learn a new language?

Jessie: “First, do not be afraid of an immersion program. This is the best way ever to learn anything…but also, it takes a lot of practice and studying. Like any other thing in life, if you want to learn a language, desire is a must. If you really want something, you must go for it. Be in a country that speaks the language, live with a family, and make friends. A language is [a part of] culture too.  The most important thing is to enjoy [learning] while doing it!

What advice do you have for our Winterline cohort going into the next two trimesters of traveling?

Jessie: “Attitude is everything. No matter if something bad happens, what matters the most is what you do with it…cheesy, I know, but true. Your attitude could make people open their hearts, or close them forever. Take advantage of every single thing you will find in this journey, and as we talked in class, be a beautiful bridge between your country and culture and the rest of the world. Do not let language or any other cultural issue be an obstacle for your learning. Be open minded. Be grateful for what you receive from people everywhere, and for    all the things you have back home. Give love. Smile. Offer your help. Communicate! Sometimes a smile says more and is better than words.”

Winterline_Anna Nickerson
Anna with the “Tarzan rope” at the suspended bridges tour. | Photo From: Anna Nickerson

Thank you so much for your time with my ISP and for teaching me so much. I had so much fun with you on the bridges and in the classroom. I hope we can stay in touch and I promise to practice my Spanish in the future!

Jessie: “Thanks to you too! I enjoy our time together a lot, and I really hope you learned many things for your life and future! You are good in Spanish, I hope you really continue with it! Have a wonderful trip around the world, chica. Learn as much as you can. You have a once in lifetime opportunity. Treasure it!”

 

To hear more from our Gap Year students be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook. We’re also on Snapchat (@Winterliner).

Photos of the Week 2/2

Our blue and green cohorts are both in Cambodia now! After having a life changing time in Thailand blue headed to Phnom Penh to join green cohort in learning what it’s like to be in the circus. Time spent together doesn’t stop there, our groups had a laser tag battle (photos to come) where green came out on top in a friendly battle of the cohorts. Green also ventured to the National Museum of Cambodia, where they learned a lot about the country and it’s history, while also taking lots of photos basking in the country’s beauty. Check out these photos taken by our students during their most recent adventures. We will be back again with more of our favorite photos next Friday!

Let us know your favorite photos in the comments below! To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook

Charlie hanging in the pool at the Aquarius Hotel & Urban Resort
Charlie hanging in the pool at the Aquarius Hotel & Urban Resort 
Charlie living his best life at the Aquarius Hotel & Urban Resort
Charlie living his best life at the Aquarius Hotel & Urban Resort 
New friends in Phnom Penh featuring Andrew | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
New friends in Phnom Penh featuring Andrew | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Cambodia | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Cambodia | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Blue and Green came together for a "turquoise" day at the circus | Photo By: Nick Manning
Blue and Green came together for a “turquoise” day at the circus | Photo By: Nick Manning
Green Gang took over the circus | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Green Gang took over the circus | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Leela at the circus | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Leela at the circus | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Leela at the circus | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Pablo at the circus | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Our mixology location | Photo By: Leela Ray
Our mixology location | Photo By: Leela Ray
Royal Palace, Phnom Penh | Photo By: Alice Hart
Royal Palace, Phnom Penh | Photo By: Alice Hart
Royal Palace, Phnom Penh | Photo By: Alice Hart
Royal Palace, Phnom Penh | Photo By: Alice Hart
Royal Palace, Phnom Penh | Photo By: Alice Hart
Royal Palace, Phnom Penh | Photo By: Alice Hart
Samir taking in beautiful Thailand last week | Photo By: Charlie Dickey
Samir taking in beautiful Thailand last week | Photo By: Charlie Dickey
Natanielle and Sophia traveling in Cambodia | Photo By: Leela Ray
Natanielle and Sophia traveling in Cambodia | Photo By: Leela Ray
Alice and Sophia at the National Museum of Cambodia
Alice and Anna at the National Museum of Cambodia
Alice and Anna at the National Museum of Cambodia
Alice and Sophia at the National Museum of Cambodia
Alice and Sophia at the National Museum of Cambodia
Alice and Anna at the National Museum of Cambodia
Anna and Alice at the National Museum of Cambodia
Anna and Sophia at the National Museum of Cambodia
Anna and Sophia at the National Museum of Cambodia
Sophia, Alice and Anna at the National Museum of Cambodia
Sophia, Alice and Anna at the National Museum of Cambodia
"Today's classroom" | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
“Today’s classroom” | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
"Today's classroom" | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
“Today’s classroom” | Photo By: Alex Messitidis

Hope you enjoyed our photos of the week! Remember we post new photos every Friday. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Catch us on the road!

If you’ve been following us on Facebook and Twitter then you know we’ve been on the road with USA Gap Year Fairs since the beginning of January. For the next couple months our team will be traveling across the country to over 40 gap year fairs to meet students, parents, and counselors like you. And when we say across the country we mean everywhere. We will be hitting up Boston, Northern and Southern California, Vermont, Colorado, Texas and even Canada. With a gap year fair almost every day it’ll be hard to miss us! We would love to meet you this season so stop by our table at the event to say hello! Also, be sure to check out the USA Gap Year Fairs schedule to find an event near you.

Winterline Gap Fair
Remember to stop by our booth for information, smiles, and swag!

What to know before you go

  • The gap year fairs Winterline will be attending are part of an annual circuit hosted by the organization, USA Gap Year Fairs.
  • Students who attend will get a broad exposure to Gap Year Programs and the opportunity for face-to-face conversations with professionals in the field.
  • Students, Parents, and Counselors are all welcome to attend
  • At every USA Gap Year Fair there is a speaker presentation (30-60min) to give a unique perspective on Gap Year and to answer any questions students and parents might have.
  • You’ll be able to meet alumni from past programs and ask them questions at some fairs.

2018 Quick Schedule

For more information be sure to check out the USA Gap Year Fairs Website and to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We can’t wait to meet you!

Photos of the Week 1/26

Blue cohort has settled into Bangkok, Thailand and has been having a blast with our partner organization, Bangkok Vanguards. Meanwhile, green cohort has been learning skills like animation and mixology during their time in Cambodia. Check out these photos taken by our students during their most recent adventures. We will be back again with more of our favorite photos next Friday!

Let us know your favorite photos in the comments below! To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Patrick and Andrew in LA before heading to Cambodia | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Patrick and Andrew in LA before heading to Cambodia | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Thailand
Dini, Savannah, and Whitaker enjoying Bangkok | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Elaine at Wat Arun
Elaine at Wat Arun
Elaine at Wat Arun
Elaine at Wat Arun
Welcome to Cambodia! | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Welcome to Cambodia! | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Pablo and Andrew | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Pablo and Andrew | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Alice, Sophia, and Hayden | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Alice, Sophia, and Hayden | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Green Cohort taking in the view in Cambodia | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Green Cohort taking in the view in Cambodia | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Liam in Cambodia | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Liam in Cambodia | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Charlie, Savannah, and Meagan
Charlie, Savannah, and Meagan
Aquarius Hotel & Urban Resort Alex Messitidis
Aquarius Hotel & Urban Resort | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Winterline Global Education
Killing Fields | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Winterline Cambodia
Green cohort experienced a humbling tour of the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center. It was simultaneously heartbreaking and awe inspiring to witness the perseverance of both the Cambodian people and their culture. | Photo and Caption By: Susie Madden
Savannah and Samir
Savannah and Samir | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Thailand
Thailand | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Green Cohort enjoying Cambodia | Photo By: Leela Ray
Green Cohort enjoying Cambodia | Photo By: Leela Ray
Leela and Hayden | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Leela and Hayden | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Andrew enjoying Cambodia | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Andrew enjoying Cambodia | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Dini Thailand
Dini enjoying Thailand | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Savannah Thailand
Savannah | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Mixology Partner Photo By Alex Messitidis
Mixology Partner in Cambodia | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Alice and Sophia practicing mixology | Photo By: Alex Messitdis
Alice and Sophia practicing mixology | Photo By: Lex Messitdis
Andrew and Anna at mixology | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Andrew and Anna with the results of their mixology course | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Meagan Kindrat
Beautiful Shot of Thailand | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Savannah and John
Savannah and John | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Thailand
Caroline in Thailand | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Blue Cohort playing in the mud during their time learning about mangroves | Photo By: Bangkok Vanguards
Thailand blooms | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Savannah and Dini
Savannah and Dini enjoying delicious Thai noodles | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Andrew, Natanielle and Susie | Photo By: Lex Messitidis
Thailand
Blue Cohort traveling in Thailand | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Winterline Thailand
Charlie and Savannah at a Thailand flower market | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat

Hope you enjoyed our photos of the week! Remember we post new photos every Friday. To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Our Experience with TIDE in Belize: An Interview with Martin Ack

While we were in Belize, we had the opportunity to work with the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE), an internationally recognized organization. During our time there, we learned how to plan a kayaking expedition, surveyed locals to conduct research regarding the invasive lionfish, and earned our open-water SCUBA certification. We had the pleasure of learning about Belize from our tour guide, Martin Ack. After spending three weeks with him, we sat down to talk about his experience working with TIDE. He shared interesting insights with us and gave us both a greater respect and understand for not only his job, but for the work TIDE does as a whole.

How long have you been working for TIDE and how did you come about working for TIDE?

Martin: “I have been working with TIDE for 4 years as a full-time tour guide, but I used to work as a part-time tour guide when I started in 1997. The founder of TIDE is a friend of mine so he comes to my village a lot. He reached out to my community in the same way that TIDE does now. I was working at the shrimp farm at that time until I got tired and bored of it, so I switched to part-time tour guiding. It’s something that I always wanted, but the tour guide course was never available when I was working at the shrimp farm. As soon as that TIDE course came to my community, I resigned from my job and took the course, got my license and submitted at a time when TIDE was hiring. Thankfully, I was the one who they picked and I’m now their main guide.”

Can you explain what TIDE does or what they aim to do as an organization?

Martin: “TIDE stands for Toledo Institute for Development and Environment, so it is aimed at conservation, developing local communities, and working with locals within the boundaries of the conservation and protected areas in Toledo. Initially when TIDE started, many of the locals were using resources such as the marine reserve for fishing. That used to be an area open for anyone to use. TIDE claimed that as a protected area, which ultimately had a positive effect on the livelihood of these fishermen. They didn’t really like the idea at first, but now they are really happy because they are catching fish about a mile away from town. Before, they had to go four miles away and would come back with very small fish. So, TIDE is here to help the locals.

Photo Contest, Skills, Anna Nickerson
Winterline Students with TIDE in Belize | Photo By: Anna Nickerson

In your opinion, what is the best thing that TIDE has done?

Martin: “I think TIDE has created a lot of opportunities for locals, and has also caused local businesses to experience an influx of commerce, especially in regards to tourism. TIDE is the mother organization of TIDE Tours. Though I am the main guide, we also contract other guides to help us out. So, TIDE provides jobs for many locals through creating alternative livelihoods, specifically for fishermen and fisherwomen so they can stop relying on fish and natural resources. Instead, they can rely on alternatives like food drying, craft making, bartending, tourism, hospitality, and landscaping. TIDE helps to provide all of these trade opportunities through funding from its subsidiary bodies.”

Personally, what is your favorite thing about working for TIDE?

Martin: “I love what I’m doing right now as a guide. I love green. I love the natural resources. And without these resources, I wouldn’t be able to talk about birds and animals. A lot of people come to Belize and TIDE is really helping to protect the natural resources, and when they do that it makes me very happy to work for them. They have what I can use to teach people. I love meeting people, great people like you all, so it has really been fun. I do student groups, private tours… all different ages. It’s not just being a tour guide. I do reception work, I run errands, I do diving, community research, and I also get the opportunity to develop myself with different trainings that TIDE offers. I am very happy that TIDE has been so good to me and given me so many opportunities. I have to make good use of them.

Anna Diving | Photo By: Alex Messitidis

Is there anything you would want to change about TIDE?

Martin: “I think TIDE has been really accomplishing their mission, but what I would like to change would be the amount of funding for the organization. I want it to be bigger so we can accomplish more. Activities, training, and all that. I want us to reach as many parts of Belize as possible. TIDE is one of the biggest organizations for it [conservation efforts] so far, it could be the biggest in the country.”

We all really enjoyed coming to your house to learn about the Mayan chocolate making. We’re wondering if they are any other traditions you take part in?

Martin: “My culture is not always appreciated by many. I see it because many young people want to blend into other cultures, which is okay, but they forget their roots. But the Maya is one of the great civilization that many have questions about who we are because a lot of our information is not written in books, only passed down from generation to generation. So with us, we go with it and then we practice. We have celebrations like planting. That’s our way of living. We use incense, which my grandfather still uses. And he taught me about it. Because I work with TIDE I don’t have time.

There is a lot more in terms of food and also music. A lot of it is still practiced, we only focused on chocolate when you visited. It’s been around for thousands of years. You know, cacao is supposed to be spelled kakawa, [it means] our God.  But because the Spanish could not spell it the way it is pronounced by us, they just wrote, “cacao.”

leela cacao
Leela making chocolate.

Do you have any advice for our Winterline cohort moving forward or words of wisdom?

 Martin: “Make use of your opportunity. You never know where you will end up next, so make every day count. I’m sure you all have been enjoying it and I see the potential in all of you. I am so glad you made it down here because a lot of people do not get this kind of opportunity to see places like this or meet our people. You all get an authentic experience in that sense so keep on. Like my mom used to tell me, “Reach for the stars. You may not get there, but aim for them.”

 

*This interview has been edited for clarity and length*

 

 

 

4 Reasons to Head to India This Spring

This spring we are heading to Mumbai, India for a 9 day Global Entrepreneurship Intensive Program. Will you be joining us? We have four reasons that this is a program you will NOT want to miss. You and your resume will thank us later. The application deadline for this program is January 26. So, don’t wait apply now!

  1. Your Personal Brand. In today’s world everything is digital and everything is on the internet. Don’t fight your presence on social media, brand it! Understanding your personal brand can help you land a top internship and position yourself for success during and after college. During this intensive program you’ll explore your personal brand and gain an important business perspective. 
  2. Learn from the Best. What makes a compelling marketing video? Learn to create one. Learn what clients are looking for. While in Mumbai you’ll take a deep dive into marketing and branding with one of India’s top ad agencies. Not only will this be a fun learning experience for you, but it will look stellar on your resume and set you apart from everyone else.Winterline Global Business
  3. Gain a new perspective. See first hand what it’s like to live and learn in the world’s fastest growing economy. Throughout the program, the focus will be on hands-on skill development and an introduction to the real world of businesses from the dabbawalla lunch delivery service to a behind the scenes day at a world-class hotel.business_cambodia_impact_hub-1-5
  4. Real skills. Real Life. You’ll gain invaluable interpersonal, negotiation, and communication skills. Because many of these skills extend beyond business, this program will help you succeed in school, in any job, and even in your personal life. Why not invest in yourself? cambodia-business-program-gap-year-students

For more about this trip and other trips abroad be sure to check out our programs page. Ready to apply? We’d love to have you! The application deadline for this trip in January 26.

How a Gap Year Can Add Value to Your Career

While taking a gap year has become an increasingly popular trend among high school seniors for various reasons, there are many benefits to doing so for those who are in the workforce, too. Whether you’re about to don your cap and gown — or already among the employed — taking a gap year offers specific advantages that can positively affect your career.

 

What a Gap Year Is All About

In a recent post by Counseling@NYU, which offers an online masters in school counseling from NYU Steinhardt, titled “Gap Year Basics: How Taking a Year Off Increases the Ceiling for Students,” looks at the dynamics of a gap year. Although some may view such a choice as a luxury, individuals take gap years for various reasons — such as saving for college, working, traveling or for religious purposes. In an interview for the article, Ethan Knight, executive director of the American Gap Association (AGA), noted that serious gappers dig deep to learn more about themselves. He says they: “… confront limits they didn’t know they had, succeed more frequently than they would have thought before, and are exposed to new and different ways to lead this thing called life.”

5 Ways a Gap Year Can Benefit Your Career

There are many advantages to taking a gap year. In addition to the positive results of its own 2015 National Alumni Survey, the AGA highlights data across a variety of studies that show what benefits can result from making this choice. This and other resources demonstrate the advantages that are possible, including the following five:

 

  1. A better sense of self and deeper multicultural understanding — which helps individuals learn how to cope with new challenges in a creative manner.
  2. The acquisition of new skills and knowledge for career enhancement — many of the attributes that employers look for can be gained during gap year activities. Many take a gapyear to learn a new trade, or do a short course that enhances their skills.
  3. Increased job satisfaction and employability — studying abroad during a gap year has been shown to have a big impact on getting both jobs and promotions.
  4. Expanded networking potential — made possible both by extensive travel and the ability to shed the pressures felt back home.

When Your Gap Year Is Over

Although it may seem daunting to re-enter the workforce or school after the gap year is through, there are specific things you can do to ease your transition. If you’re headed to school and your admission has been deferred, be sure to contact the institution involved and let them know you’re ready to hit the books. When it comes to getting back into the workforce, it’s important to let your current employer know you’re back — and to rework your resume if you’re looking for something knew. The AGA offers the following tips for doing so:

  • Communicate the value of your experience clearly.
  • Focus on the skills you acquired, rather than the experiences you enjoyed most.
  • Structure your resume correctly, with gap experience under the right section, like ‘Volunteer Experience’
  • Know your audience and what role you want, and align your resume accordingly.
  • Use specific metrics to be concise and communicate the value of your experiences.
  • Remember that a gap year is seen by many as a choice made by the privileged, which is not always the case. Clearly articulate why you took the gap year and emphasize the well-rounded experience.

Knight expounded further in a recent interview for Fast Company, offering the following recommendations:

  • Treat your experience like a job and include it in your application materials.
  • Be clear about why you took a gap year.
  • Know what the employer is looking for and show how the gap year has helped.

If you plan your gap year strategically, embrace the experience fully, and communicate its benefits clearly — you can enhance your self-growth while adding value to your career.

 

Colleen O’Day is a Digital Marketing Manager at 2U, based out of the Washington DC area. Colleen supports community outreach for 2U Inc.’s social work, mental health, and K-12 education programs

 

Connecting, Not Just Communicating: The Beauty of Learning a Foreign Language

During my final week in Costa Rica, I did something that I had not anticipated doing before starting Winterline. I presented my photo essay about the suspended bridges of Monteverde to a room full of local Costa Ricans and my Winterline peers. I presented my photos, some brief research I had conducted about the bridges, and my opinion on how the bridges contribute holistically to the town; they individually affect the economy, the natural beauty, and tourism of Monteverde in a positive manner.

I presented entirely in Spanish.

Now, let me go back a little bit… I have been taking Spanish in a classroom for the last six years and I am in love with the language. I find myself listening to “Latin Pop” more often than any other playlist, and I religiously translate words from English to Spanish in my head. There have been a few cases in which I have been able to actually apply my Spanish skills, like when I went to the Dominican Republic for a service project, or when my family and I occasionally go to Mexico on vacation. But it wasn’t until my Independent Study Week (ISP) in Monteverde where I actually realized that my Spanish-speaking capabilities can take me further than greeting someone or asking where the bathroom is.

Winterline_Spanish_Immersion
Learning verb conjugations on day two! | Photo By: Anna Nickerson

We each got the opportunity to choose our own ISPs before heading to Central America. Given my interest in improving my Spanish, I signed up for the “Intensive and Immersive Spanish Course,” which may have been one of my best decisions on Winterline thus far. Over the 5-day course, I learned so much about the language, and more importantly Hispanic culture, by simply speaking in nothing other than Spanish. Evelyn, one of my professors, and I spoke entirely in Spanish for four hours straight on my first day of class. I told her about my family and my health and my best friends at home and my reason for doing Winterline, the list goes on. I told her about so many things that I didn’t previously think I was capable of talking about in Spanish. We had genuine conversation in another language and it was beautiful.

Winterline_Anna Nickerson
Anna with the “Tarzan rope” at the suspended bridges tour. | Photo From: Anna Nickerson

Unfortunately, many people approach learning a language too concretely and without a “big-picture” mindset. They only see it as another way to communicate, and nothing more. And people who can speak multiple languages are seen as a novelty rather than an opportunity to learn about connecting (“Breaking The Language Barrier”) with other people and cultures. I initially approached learning Spanish in a very definitive and concrete way by thinking that it was only taught in a classroom. I’ve realized after my ISP that learning a language isn’t just about the language- it is also about the culture. During my week, I took a cooking class, a dance class, and even went on a tour of the suspended bridges- all things that make up the town of Monteverde and more broadly, Costa Rican and Hispanic culture. I’ve also come to realize after speaking a significant amount of Spanish, that learning a new language opens doors to connection. I made real relationships with my two professors, Evelyn and Jessie, and connected with each of them on different levels. I learned about their lives and why they’re teachers. They even gave me personal advice for my travels to come on Winterline. If we all look at learning new languages as ways to simply communicate, we are looking at language-learning incorrectly. Sure, communication comes as a result of learning a new language, but the ability to connect is one that only some people will find as they speak in foreign languages and actually engage and put effort into conversations. This is where language-learning becomes important, and very fun.

Winterline-Monteverde
One of the bridges on the tour. | Photo By: Anna Nickerson

But, I digress. Back to my presentation. We were all required to present individually about our ISP weeks; what we did, who we did it with, what we learned, etc. I had been preparing a photo essay for my presentation and knew throughout the whole week that I would be speaking in Spanish, by choice, to a room full of native speakers. Honestly, I was terrified. I prepared my photos and my PowerPoint presentation and even went to the Monteverde Institute early on the morning of presentations just to practice with Jessie, my other professor. She assured me that my speaking was perfect, yet I stayed anxious throughout the day.

Winterline_Monteverde
One of the bridges on the tour. | Photo By: Anna Nickerson

Sure enough, it came time to present and I put my whole heart into it. But, my hands were shaky as I pulled up my presentation onto the screen and I could hear my soft voice quiver as I introduced myself and my photo essay. As I moved on throughout the presentation, I stood up taller and spoke louder with more confidence. The words flew out of my mouth without even thinking. “Is this how becoming fluent in Spanish feels like?” I asked myself silently. I completed my presentation and absolutely beamed as my audience members gave me a round of applause and complimented me.

Winterline_Anna Nickerson
Learning to make home-made/hand-made corn tortillas in cooking class! (It’s much harder than it looks) | Photo By: Anna Nickerson

I felt connected with the entire room and proud of myself for making an effort to connect. I didn’t have to speak in Spanish, and initially I did not want to, but I stepped out of my comfort zone and began to finally see language for what it is: an opportunity to connect, not just to communicate.

 

To hear more from our Gap Year students be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook. We’re also on Snapchat (@Winterliner).

Sugar, Butter, Flour: What’s Inside My Final Week Of Trimester One.

It’s raining again, not unlike the rain I see in Seattle. Less of a real rain, and more of a drizzle. It’s a subtle reminder that my final days here are drawing to a close, and soon I will return to the bustling streets of the Emerald City. I will return to my own bed, in my own house. I will be able to wear something other than the same five outfits I’ve been recycling for the past two months. I will fall back into the routine of both loving and hating my sister, and be reunited with the taste of homemade Indian food from my mother. I’ll get to go home.

All of these thoughts race through my head as I make my way down the cracked narrow sidewalk, one of few existing in the small mountain town of Monteverde, Costa Rica, but I can’t indulge them yet. Something in me knows that I cannot spend my last moments here with one foot in a different world, especially not on Thanksgiving.

I look back over my shoulder to find Alex beaming back at me, her black rain jacket is half-way zipped, and her long dark hair whips around playfully in the breeze. A local greets us as we pass him. “Pura vida,” he says. It’s a customary phrase here that means pure life, among other things, and we echo him in response. We’re on our way to see the rest of our cohort for the first time in four days. It doesn’t sound like long, but when you’ve lived, worked, and played beside the same people for two months, you can’t help but notice their absence.

Ingrid's Bakery | Photo From: Leela Ray
Ingrid’s Bakery | Photo From: Leela Ray

Part of Winterline’s programming in Costa Rica involves partnering with Monteverde Institute to spend five days living with a family and being independent from the group. In addition to living with these homestay families, we were also assigned to a collection of businesses, artists, and teachers to study a specific skill during the week. I had the privilege of studying with Ingrid Martinez at her in home bakery for five days and it was, without a doubt, my favorite week of our first trimester.

Baking has always been a passion of mine. Whenever a birthday comes around my friends call on me for sweet treats, and I’m happy to oblige. It’s a stress reliever for me, and it was the perfect way to finish up my first few months with Winterline. This past week I’ve lived and breathed sugar, butter, and flour, and I couldn’t be happier about the outcome. I not only learned how to bake traditional Costa Rican pastries and breads, but I also got to practice my Spanish and gain a better understanding of one of my passions. I’ve learned how to make everything, from cinnamon rolls to rosemary bread, lemon bars to bagels. Name it and I probably made it.

Bakery Perfection | Photo From: Leela Ray
Bakery Perfection | Photo From: Leela Ray
Baking at Ingrid's | Photo From: Leela Ray
Baking at Ingrid’s | Photo From: Leela Ray

Most of my cohort member’s did their study independently, but I was one of four people who had a partner. Enter, Alex Messitidis. At first I was a little disgruntled by the idea of not being truly independent while learning, but by the end of the week, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience or a better person to be working with. My mum is East Indian, and Alex comes from a Greek family; cooking and baking runs in both our bloods. We’ve grown up around the belief that good food can bring people together, and bring us together it did. Though I’d always considered Alex a friend, I’d never had the chance to truly get to know her, and contrary to what we both initially thought, we have a lot in common. We spent most of our days elbows deep in flour or struggling over the art of rolling dough (it’s harder than it sounds), but when things were in the oven, we passed the time by telling each other stories about our lives.

Alex at Ingrid's Bakery | Photo From: Leela Ray
Alex at Ingrid’s Bakery | Photo From: Leela Ray
Leela and Alex together at Ingrid's Bakery | Photo From: Leela Ray
Leela and Alex together at Ingrid’s Bakery | Photo From: Leela Ray

Mitzy, Ingrid’s daughter, taught us alongside her mother. She was only a couple years older than us, but her knowledge and maturity was that of someone much older than her. She worked with us, laughed with us (and at us), and even joined us in dancing in the kitchen when all there was to do was wait for whatever was in the oven. Even though we only spent five days with them, Ingrid and Mitzy treated us like family. They were encouraging, kind, and infinitely patient. I would do anything to spend just one more day with them.

Working at the bakery | Photo From: Leela Ray
Working at the bakery | Photo From: Leela Ray

The week flew by, and I’m sad to see the end of it. Through all the chaos our little green gang has seen, it’s been nice to fall into the routine of Monteverde: get up, have breakfast, catch the bus to work, spend the day in the bakery, grab a coffee at the local espresso shop, and return home to spend the evening with my homestay family. This little makeshift Thanksgiving of ours is a subtle reminder that home is where the heart is, and my heart is here. The simplicity of life here is enviable, and it’s made me appreciate the little things. Things like sunsets, salt that hasn’t yet portrayed its hydrophilic qualities, and having people to come home to at the end of the day. As I sit down at this table, watching my newfound family file in, I can’t help but smile. Good food, good friends, and something new to learn every single day. It really is pure life.

 

To hear more from our Gap Year students be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook. We’re also on Snapchat (@Winterliner).

What to Expect from First Trimester: An Interview with Patrick Neafsey

As we finish up our first trimester in Central America, all of our students in green cohort are starting to reflect on our last two and a half months together. We have gone through a lot as a group. From huddling over a pot of boiling water to warm our freezing bodies in the Wind River Range to doing a scavenger hunt while kayaking in Belize to learning about permaculture in Rancho Mastatal, Costa Rica, we have learned a ton. As individuals, we have all grown and taken different things out of these experiences. As a group, we have all developed our skills and have grown very close. I decided to interview Patrick Neafsey about his first trimester and he had some interesting personal insights…

Patrick at NOLS
Patrick at NOLS | Photo By: Natanielle Huizenga

Why did you join Winterline this year?

Patrick: “I’ve been a part of the traditional education system for the last 16 years of my life, and after a year of college I decided that I wanted a break from the conventional classroom setting. I knew I wanted to travel, but I had no idea how I would be able to until I found Winterline. I knew it was the program I wanted to do as soon as I found their website.”

You’re unique in the fact that you have already been to a year of college and are now taking a year off before heading back. How does this trip compare to your freshman year of college in terms of your responsibilities and style of learning?

Patrick: “I think the most notable similarity between my college experience and Winterline so far has been the idea of freedom and personal responsibility. College kind of throws you into the fire in terms of making you do stuff on your own, which is a skill Winterline definitely tries to foster. I also value the experiential learning aspect of the program because I really wanted to get out of a classroom setting this year. I mean you can’t learn how to scuba dive in a classroom in Ithaca. It’s completely different in regard to responsibilities. In college, you have to make your own decisions and get all of your stuff done independently. Here, there’s different responsibilities like being able to interact in a small group and being responsible for your peers, which is present at college but not nearly as important on a campus of 14,000 people.”

What has been your favorite place we have traveled to and why? 

Patrick: “I think my favorite spot was Mastatal in Costa Rica. That was definitely the biggest culture shock of the trip so far, especially in terms of traveling to different corners of the world that we never would have seen otherwise. I had the unique opportunity to play in a couple soccer games with the locals against nearby towns, which was an incredible experience to really immerse myself in the culture and daily ritual of these people’s lives. I am very grateful for the fact that they welcomed me to their team with open arms and treated me as one of their own on the field.”

Patrick and Andrew playing soccer
Patrick and Andrew playing soccer | Photo From: Patrick Neafsey

What advice/words of wisdom would you give someone who is contemplating taking a gap year with Winterline?

 Patrick: “This is an opportunity that you won’t ever have for the rest of your life. Despite what popular opinion is regarding going from high school to four years of college, there is really no downside to taking a year off and seeing the world. If you’re like me and interested in seeing the parts of the world that you’ve only read about, you’ll regret not taking advantage of an opportunity like this with Winterline.”

Anna and Patrick Diving
Anna and Patrick diving | Photo By: Anna Nickerson

Last question… What experience or expedition has been the most fun for you?

Patrick: “I think the scuba certification was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in my life. I have always been very comfortable in the water and scuba is something that literally unlocks another section of the globe that was previously inaccessible to me, which I think is really cool. And even diving in the small area off the coast of Belize compared to the expansive and available places to dive, I saw so much and it’s crazy to think how much more I can see in other parts of the world while scuba diving. I am excited to take advantage of this certification in the future.”

 

To hear more from our students be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook. We’re also on Snapchat (@Winterliner).

Winterline Photo Contest Winners

Normally on Fridays we post our photos of the week, however both of our cohorts have finished Trimester 1 and have headed home. As our students went home for break, we asked them to submit photos for our Trimester 1 Photo Contest. The categories for submission were Friendship, Skills, and Winterline. These categories were left open to the interpretation of our students. Photos were judged anonymously by Winterline staff. This trimester all of our students’ photos were so amazing we chose three for each category. Check out our winners for each category below (photos are not in a specific order). Huge congrats to this trimester’s winners Meagan Kindrat, Alex Messitidis, Anna Nickerson, and Leela Ray!

Be sure to check out last week’s photos, if you missed them. We will be back again with more of our favorite photos next Friday!

Friendship

Photo Contest, Friendship By Leela Ray
Friendship | Photo By: Leela Ray
Photo Contest, Friendship, Meagan Kindrat
Friendship | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Photo Contest, Friendship, Anna Nickerson
Friendship | Photo By: Anna Nickerson

Skills

Photo Contest, Skills, Anna Nickerson
Skills | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Photo Contest, Skills, Meagan Kindrat
Skills, Christian cutting some chilies for fermentation | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Photo Contest, Skills, Alex Messitidis
Skills | Photo By: Alex Messitidis

Winterline

Photo Contest, Winterline, Leela Ray
Winterline | Photo By: Leela Ray

 

Photo Contest, Winterline, Alex Messitidis
Winterline | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Photo Contest, Winterline, Anna Nickerson
Winterline | Photo By: Anna Nickerson

Let us know your favorite photos in the comments below! To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Thrown Off the Deep End: My Experience Diving in Belize

Change. Audible groans normally ensue after hearing this word. The idea of “change” is difficult for many people to wrap their heads around. It’s in our nature to want stability and to find comfort in the consistency of our day-to-day routines. The negative connotation that comes with the word “change” often comes as a result of people not wanting to stray outside of their comfort zones. There’s such a stigma around this word, which I sometimes don’t understand. I am unique in the fact that I actually like change- or rather, I am used to it. In the past eight years, I have learned how to live in two separate homes. I move back and forth between my mom and dad’s house every two weeks, needing to re-adjust for different expectations at each house. It hasn’t been easy and I have gotten sick of moving back and forth between their houses, but a lot of good has come of it. Because of my unique upbringing, I do not struggle adapting to change as much as others, especially while traveling. Throughout my three weeks in Belize, I did not have a difficult time adjusting to the language barrier or the culture or the food. The challenge of being in a foreign country was more fun for me than anything. However, learning to scuba dive literally threw me off the deep end. Diving put me into an extended period of discomfort and forced me to experience a lot of change, both physically and emotionally.

After spending 2 weeks in Big Falls and Punta Gorda, our final destination in Belize was Placencia. Our sole purpose was to get our scuba certification over a 3-day course with our partner, Splash Dive Center. We spent our first day in a classroom, so I felt very comfortable learning in that type of environment. After spending hours and hours watching videos about safety, hand signals, equipment and everything in between, we took a variety of quizzes and then went onto our final exam. After getting a 91% on the test and 100% on my RDP dive table test, I was more than confident going into the next two days of actually diving. It was a slight mistake to be that confident.

Anna Nickerson
Photo By: Anna Nickerson

As we got onto the dive boat the next day, I knew I was in for a challenging two days. The dive instructors were barking orders at each other while simultaneously going through equipment with their students while also directing people on the boat, all while rain poured down to the point that it was painful on my skin. After spending an hour on the boat, we made it to our island and were instructed to get all of our gear on and enter the water with the “Giant Stride” technique. I got into the water and felt both anxious and excited as I swam towards my instructor and two dive buddies. We went through four confined water dives, which are mini skill-building courses underwater. We went through the motions of clearing our masks, taking our masks off, swimming without a mask and even briefly swimming without our air source, among a variety of other skills. I did not like these skills. When I first cleared my mask, I panicked and rushed to the surface (important thing NOT to do while diving) and got charley horse cramps every time I panicked, which did not help with my level of anxiety at all. I “mastered” the required skills by the time we finished our confined water dives, but I was not confident about going into the open water dive next.

After resting and eating lunch on the boat, it was right back to the water for our first open water dive. I used the Giant Stride technique and followed my instructor to forty feet below the surface. As we descended, a wave of excitement and optimism came over me. I could breathe easily and when we reached the bottom, I realized that enduring the miserable skill building was worth it. I was at the bottom of the ocean! I was in absolute awe of where I was and what I was doing. I was at peace for the first time since starting the day and it gave me even more respect for my mom, who is a passionate scuba diver. I felt like I could finally get a glimpse of something that has always made her so happy and it felt very special. After swimming around for a bit and exploring the diverse marine life, we had to perform our skills. The skills went surprisingly well and I felt prepared to take on our next dive.

Scuba Anna Nickerson
Photo By: Anna Nickerson

On the next dive, I almost died. Okay, not actually, but that’s what I’ve been telling people. It may be a slight exaggeration, but what happened was one of the scariest experiences I’ve had. We had just finished swimming around on our second open water dive and it was time to perform our skills at a greater depth. My instructor motioned to me that I needed to get air from my buddy’s second air source. I signaled “out of air” to Alice and she grabbed onto my arm as I reached for her back-up regulator. Her regulator wouldn’t come loose of her BCD so I had to swim closer to her torso and force the regulator in my mouth. I breathed in and no air entered my mouth, only a few big gulps of sea water. I tried again only to experience the same awful result. I noticed we were floating up to the surface and at this point I was in a complete frenzy. I was out of air and didn’t know what to do. My mind went completely blank. I lost my ability to think. My instructor finally put my own first stage regulator into my mouth and as I got air, I shrieked into my regulator out of a combination of fear and relief. I regained control of myself and we all continued with the dive. I was very cautious for the rest of the dive and made sure to remember to keep breathing. When we surfaced, my instructor explained that I had been trying to use Alice’s regulator upside down. I made a mental note not to do that again. We headed back to the dive center, cleaned and put our equipment away, and we were done with the day. I felt so relived to be on land and didn’t want the next day to come because I knew that meant more scuba and therefore even more discomfort.

Despite my wishes, that next morning did come. I promised to myself that I would stay calm no matter what happened during the day. But… I broke that promise upon surfacing from my first open water dive of the day. Our instructor told us to take off our BCD’s, inflate them, and then use them as flotation devices to relax in the water. I took my BCD off while struggling against the big waves and then had difficulty inflating it, so I was just swimming against the current while holding my heavy BCD and cylinder without any means to help me float, aside from my own body. Needless to say, my anxiety level was high and I was not calm. After about ten minutes of struggling, my instructor came over and helped me. He repeatedly told me, “stay calm,” which everyone knows does not help in stressful situations. My whole body was so exhausted from fighting the waves and the weight of my equipment. I just wanted to be on the boat. He spent about twenty minutes with me in the water, helping me perform this skill with my BCD. I finally got it on my own and the boat came to pick us up. We all had lunch on the boat and for lack of a better phrase, I was not having it. I had so much salt water in my sinuses, felt fatigued and sore, and the last thing I wanted to do was go back in the water. I said, “I don’t want to go back in” multiple times, but after eating something and laughing with friends I found the strength to force myself back in the ocean. I wanted to get certified and I just needed to push through.

Anna Diving
Anna Diving | Photo By: Alex Messitidis

I am so proud of myself for having the grit to continue because my last open water dive was incredible. We descended to sixty feet and didn’t have to perform any more skills, so we were able to explore and swim around. Alice and I made little dance routines underwater, which was hilarious and quite a thing to be able to do underwater. At one point, our instructor blew his whistle and signaled that there was a sound up above. We stayed neutrally buoyant and just looked above to the surface. I saw a shadow a couple times, but thought it was a boat. Alice did the “shark” hand motion to me, but because we had been dancing earlier I thought she was joking. When we surfaced, our instructor told us that it was a Blacktip reef shark, which are known to attack people. I had no idea that there was actually a shark in the water with us, so I was relieved that I didn’t know that while being underwater. In hindsight, it’s pretty cool. I swam under a shark that is known to attack humans. Badass.

I am proud of myself for the way in which I went about learning to scuba dive. Well, I am not particularly proud of how panicked I got at times, but when I look at the big picture, I did something that made me very uncomfortable and I really grinded it out. For the first time in a long time I experienced change that I did not take positively. And I could have let that ruin the entire experience for me. But I didn’t. I embraced the change and I was the change for myself. Change can be good and change is good, especially when you force yourself to dive off the deep end, whether it’s literally or figuratively. -AN.

Check out this video Anna put together about her time in Belize. 

Photos of the Week 12/1

We cannot believe that it’s December and that the First Trimester is over for our gap year students. Our blue cohort headed home last week and our green cohort is preparing to head home as well. The past few months have definitely been an adventure for our students, check out the photos of our green cohort from their last week in Costa Rica below.

Don’t forget that every Friday we will be putting together our favorite photos and travel highlights from the past week. Be sure to check out last week’s photos, if you missed them. We will be back again with more of our favorite photos next Friday!

Alex Messitidis
Patrick in Costa Rica | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Leela Ray
Monteverde sunset | Photo By: Leela Ray
Leela Ray
Leela baking at her ISP | Photo From: Leela Ray
Alex Messitidis
Fun in the sun | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Alex Messitidis
Green gang at the pool | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Alex Messitidis
Andrew living the dream. | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Alex Messitidis
Flipping out for pool days | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Alex Messitidis
Pablo, always smiling | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Alex Messitidis
Perfect Pool Days in Costa Rica | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Alex Messitidis
Sophia, Alice, and Anna at the pool | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Alex Messitidis
Liam cheesin’ | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Alex Messitidis
Sunset from the butterfly garden | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Photo By: Leela Ray
Anna making a new friend | Photo By: Leela Ray
Leela Ray
Alice and Sophia enjoying Costa Rican coffee | Photo By: Leela Ray
Leela Ray
One of the most beautiful photos of Monteverde EVER | Photo By: Leela Ray
Leela Ray
Meeting new friends abroad | Photo By: Leela Ray
Alex Messitidis
Preparing a Thanksgiving meal in Costa Rica | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Jaco | Photo By: Leela Ray
Jaco | Photo By: Leela Ray

Let us know your favorite photos in the comments below! To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

What to Expect from a Homestay: An Interview with Alex Messitidis

Pura Vida! Our green cohort just finished their first homestays, which took place in Mastatal, Costa Rica. Most of our cohort members had never experienced staying with host families before, so we were all anxious about the process beforehand. We spent 3 nights and 3 days with our families and had incredible experiences. I recently interviewed Alex Messitidis so that she could explain the concept of a homestay and how her experience went.

Some people are confused by the concept of a homestay. Could you explain what a homestay/host family is?

Alex: “This was my first homestay so I’ll explain to the best of my ability. A homestay is when you get put up with a family for however many days, for me it was three days, and you get the opportunity to get acclimated to their culture, their family, their ways, all that. You spend time with them all throughout the day. They cook for you, you go out with them, you learn about them, you get close with them. I think the whole point is to get you ‘culturally aware’ and to get you to understand the difference between living in a [city] versus living on a ranch in Costa Rica, like I did. So, for me, a homestay is living with a family in a foreign country and getting acclimated to their culture.”

What were some of your fears or anxieties going into your homestay? How did you get over those while with your host family?

Alex: “One of my biggest fears is change. I really don’t like moving around or getting close with new people. But, growing up my mom always told me that instead of fearing the change, I had to be the change. So, [going into my homestay], I just asked myself what my mom would do if she was there. She’d tell me to look down at my arm, look at my tattoo that says, “Be the Change” in big typewriter font and she would say, “Give it your best shot. Go headfirst and even if you fail, who cares?” So, I guess I just thought to myself that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I didn’t know when the next time I’d be able to do a homestay was. I challenged myself to make the most of it, practice my Spanish, get close with the kids, learn about their culture, eat their food even if I have no idea what’s in it. I think it’s about realizing and recognizing that this might be my only opportunity to get out of that comfort zone and if I don’t now, then I maybe never will. And I think this whole trip is based around getting out of your comfort zone, so why not go headfirst?”

Homestay Winterline
Alex’s host family’s cat that she met on her homestay. | Photo By: Alex Messitidis

 Can you tell me about your experience with your homestay? What were some personal challenges and what were some things that went well?

Alex: “My homestay was absolutely amazing. I already knew the dad, Junior, because I had played soccer with him a few days beforehand. He spoke fluent English, but I made him speak to me in Spanish because I wanted to practice. I was actually pretty surprised because my Spanish is not that bad. His wife was wonderful as well. I only saw her when she was doing laundry and cooking, which is the standard there. The wives do most of the work around the house and I give her a lot of credit for that because everything she did was amazing… They had 2 kids, [a 9-year old girl and a 3-year old boy]. There was a language barrier between me, the wife and the kids…, but it made me test my Spanish and I realized that I knew a lot more than I thought… Putting my Spanish to the test and being in the position where I didn’t have the option of speaking either language, I needed to figure it out and try or I would have starved for 3 days! The challenge was connecting with the family, especially with the language barrier, but it turns out that a smile goes a long way and even if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, smile it off!”

Winterline Homestay
Natanielle coloring with the kids at her homestay | Photo By: Alex Messitidis

What advice would you give someone who is nervous about staying with a host family in a foreign country?

Alex: “It’s completely normal to be nervous, especially when you’re being thrown into a situation that you’re not comfortable with. Most people aren’t comfortable with the thought of change, but I think that’s the whole point of this experience. To do something you never have and cross that cultural barrier- understand the diversity between countries and recognize that even though you may not have a lot in common with these people, like language or cultural barriers, doesn’t matter as long as you’re ready to try. If you’re trying to meet them halfway, and they’re doing the same, and you’re both being patient with each other… it’s going to be fine… Honestly, I’d be shocked if you weren’t nervous! But, everything is an experience, whether it’s good or bad, and I think that everyone should do a homestay in a foreign country because it shows you a different side to family, work, everyday life and a lot of people don’t recognize that… Have an open mind, have an open heart, and a smile goes a long way.”

 

Photos of the Week 11/24

As November wraps up so does our first trimester for our blue cohort. As of today our blue students are headed home for their break, when they return after the holidays they will be headed to Southeast Asia. Our green cohort is finishing up their independent studies in Monteverde and they will be headed home soon as well. Check out the photos below showing what our students have been up to in Costa Rica as they learn new skills like baking, up-cycling, public-speaking and much more!

Don’t forget that every Friday we will be putting together our favorite photos and travel highlights from the past week. Be sure to check out last week’s photos, if you missed them. We will be back again with more photos from the field next Friday!

Costa Rica Rainbow
Costa Rica Rainbow | Photo By: Our Field Advisor, Sarah
coffee
Blue cohort enjoying coffee together | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Alex and Alice
Alex and Alice | Photo From: Alex Messitidis
Cinnamon rolls
Cinnamon rolls made by our students Leela and Alex at their independent study | Photo By: Alex Messitidis 
Sav and Charlie
Savannah and Charlie taking in the view | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Baking
Students baking for their independent study project | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Leela Baking
Leela baking at her independent study | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Blue Cohort
Blue Cohort ready to welcome our Dean of Students, Susie! | Photo By: Susie Childs
Monteverde
Beautiful Monteverde | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Blue Cohort
Last night for the Blue Squad in Monteverde, Costa Rica!
views
Views | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Final Presentations
Final Presentations | Photo By: Susie Childs
Elaine and Whitaker
Whitaker and Elaine at their independent study final presentations | Photo By: Susie Childs
Samir
Samir at his final presentation about his ISP | Photo By: Susie Childs
Charlie
Charlie at his final presentation | Photo By: Susie Childs
Caroline
Caroline at her final ISP presentation | Photo By: Susie Childs
Dini
Dini at her independent study final presentation | Photo By: Susie Childs
Sav
Sav snacking on a favorite, papaya! | Photo By: Susie Childs
Blue and Green
Blue and green enjoying dinner together!
Blue and Green
New friendships across cohorts | Photo By: Susie Childs
Goodbyes
Saying goodbye for the Winter Break | Photo By: Charlie Dickey

Let us know your favorite photos in the comments below! To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Photos of the Week 11/17

Can you believe Trimester 1 of our 2017-2018 Gap Year is almost over? Our students are finishing up this portion of their program in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Here they have been enjoy the local vibes while also working on their independent studies (More about that to come later!) When it comes to Trimester 1, we think our student Anna puts it best,

“I am leaving for home in 2 weeks and I’m not ready to say goodbye to my Winterline family! It’s been a fantastic adventure so far that I am very grateful for.” -Anna Nickerson

Check out the photos below to better understand why our students don’t want this portion of their adventure to end! Don’t forget that every Friday we will be putting together our favorite photos and travel highlights from the past week. Be sure to check out last week’s photos, if you missed them. We will be back again with more photos from the field next Friday!

Alex and Susie
Alex and Susie | Photo From: Alex Messitidis
Charlie
Charlie making a silk batik while at his independent study | Photo From: Charlie Dickey
Meagan
Meagan in Monteverde | Photo From: Meagan Kindrat
Puppies
New friends | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
monteverde
Monteverde skies | Photo By:Alex Messitidis
Christian
Christian preparing food | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat 
Jaco
Jaco Views | Photo By:Alex Messitidis
Anna Nickerson
Peaceful Nature | Photo From: Anna Nickerson
Alex Messitidis
Making new friends in Costa Rica | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Anna Nickerson
Anna enjoying nature | Photo From: Anna Nickerson
Alex
Treehouse Restaurant, Monteverde | Photo By:Alex Messitidis
Anna Nickerson
Hanging in Jaco | Photo By: Anna Nickerson 
Monteverde
Beautiful Monteverde | Photo By:Alex Messitidis
Green SCUBA
Green Cohort | Photo From: Anna Nickerson 
Natanielle
Natanielle | Photo By:Alex Messitidis
Anna Nickerson
One of many new puppy friends | Photo By: Anna Nickerson 
Susie
Susie hanging out | Photo By:Alex Messitidis
Whitaker
Whitaker helping out | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat 
Alex
Local color | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Susie Madden
Research with a view | Photo By: Susie Madden
Monteverde
Another beautiful Monteverde sunset | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat

Let us know your favorite photos in the comments below! To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Photos of the Week 11/10

For the past week our students have been living in the land of Pura Vida. Our cohorts have been staying in Rancho Mastatal, a community rooted in environmental sustainability, and Monteverde, a town located in the cloud forest of Costa Rica. At these locations our students have been able to practice new skills, meet amazing people, and enjoy the natural wonders of Costa Rica.

Don’t forget that every Friday we will be putting together our favorite photos and travel highlights from the past week. Be sure to check out last week’s photos, if you missed them. We will be back again with more photos from the field next Friday!

Savannah Monteverde
Savannah in Monteverde, Costa Rica | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Rancho Mastatal
Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Monteverde Waterfall
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve | Photo By: Savannah Pallazola
Charlie Rancho Mastatal
Charlie in Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Savannah in Monteverde
Savannah in Monteverde | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Monteverde Skies
Monteverde Skies | Photo By: Savannah Pallazola
Hanging out at Rancho Mastata
Hanging out at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Blue Cohort sharing a meal in Costa Rica
Blue Cohort sharing a meal in Costa Rica | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Meagan Monteverde
Meagan in Monteverde | Photo By: Savannah Pallazola
Rancho Mastatal
Mornings at Rancho | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Whitaker and Sam
Whitaker and Sam | Photo From: Sam Syfuy

Let us know your favorite photos in the comments below! To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook.

Photos of the Week 11/3

Happy November! Both of our cohorts are currently enjoying the rich culture of Costa Rica. Our Green Cohort has spent the past week enjoying a few rest days in San José in addition getting to know the students at UWC Costa Rica. Meanwhile, our blue cohort is learning about permaculture and sustainability at Rancho Mastatal. Having limited wifi, we hope to have more photos from Blue next week.

Don’t forget that every Friday we will be putting together our favorite photos and travel highlights from the past week. Be sure to check out last week’s photos, if you missed them. We will be back again with more photos from the field next Friday!

LeelaWinterlineGSPBelize
Andrew and Patrick in Punta Gorda, Belize |Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow 
WinterlineGSP Alex Messitidis
Alex, Natanielle, and Hayden in Costa Rica | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Rancho Mastatal
Blue Cohort at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Rancho Mastatal
Costa Rican Sunset | Photo By: Jack Fenker
Costa Rican Sunset | Photo By: Jack Fenker
Jacó, Costa Rica | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Jacó, Costa Rica | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Winterline Rancho Mastatal
Dini and Samir getting their hands dirty at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Rancho Mastatal
Lex and Susie UWC
Susie hanging out at UWC Costa Rica |Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Jacó Photo of the Week
Palms in Jacó Costa Rica |Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Alex Messitidis Photo
Some of Green Cohort hanging out in Jacó, Costa Rica | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Catedral Metropolitana San José | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Catedral Metropolitana San José |Photo By: Alex Messitidis

Let us know which photo is your favorite in the comments! To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our InstagramTumblr, and Facebook.

Photos of the Week 10/27

Can you believe it’s already Friday again? Trimester one is going by fast for our students! Having finished up in Belize, our blue cohort arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica earlier this week. There they had a couple of rest days and met with the students at United World College of Costa Rica. Following close behind, our green cohort is SCUBA Certified and finishing up their time with Ridge to Reef in Belize. Check out these photos from their week of adventures!

Don’t forget that every Friday we will be putting together our favorite photos and travel highlights from the past week. Be sure to check out last week’s photos, if you missed them. We will be back again with more photos from the field next Friday!

Meagan in Belize | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Blue Cohort out to eat in Costa Rica | Photo By: Jess Bonner
John making a drum | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Drum Making | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Green Cohort at Blue Creek Cave | Photo By: Ed Thompson
Alex at Blue Creek Cave | Photo By: Ed Thompson
Anna and Patrick | Photo By: Ed Thompson
Natanielle and Susie being silly at SCUBA
Natanielle and Susie being silly at SCUBA | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Alex Messitidis Photo
Green Cohort Diving in Belize | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Liam showing off his Fins | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Natanielle | Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow 
Hayden making chocolate
Hayden making chocolate | Photo By: Ed Thompson
Punta Gorda Beauty | Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow 
Whitaker in Belize | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Natanielle and Alex | Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow 

Let us know which photo is your favorite in the comments! To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook.

What is a Winterline?

People often ask me about our name. Why do we call ourselves the Winterline Global Skills Program? What is a winterline and why did we choose this name for our company?

A winterline is an atmospheric phenomenon.  It is a second horizon that develops under special conditions during an inversion when warm air is trapped beneath cold air.

winterline global skills
Photo By: Dinkrit Sethi

Winterlines don’t occur very often or in very many places in the world. But, in the lower ranges of the Himalayas in northern India – where several of our staff (including myself) attended an international boarding school – winterlines occurred almost daily during the months from mid-October to mid-February.

During these months, warm smoky air from all the cooking fires down below us would mix with the dust of the Indian plains and rise up into the air. But instead of dissipating, it would be met with a mass of cold air coming down from the snow-capped peaks of the high Himalayas.  And there it would be trapped.

winterline global skills
Photo By: Paul Hami

If you were looking up at the winterline from down below on the plains, you wouldn’t see anything except warm smoky air.   However, if you lived where we did at 7,000 ft, you were up above this mass of warm air, and could look down into it.

In and of itself, there was nothing special to see. But if you looked out toward the horizon, particularly as the sun was setting in the evening, you would see a line, a new horizon. The rays of the setting sun would bounce off this dense air mass creating beautiful and colorful displays of light. Much like how clouds in the sky make a sunset more beautiful by reflecting the changing light as the sun drops behind the horizon, a winterline has a similar effect. Reflecting and catching the sun’s light as it drops behind the horizon, a winterline creates a band of light across the sky!  A land horizon is static, but a winterline, because it is up in the air, allows the light to play across it.

winterline global skills
Photo By: BetterPhotography.in

So what does all of this have to do with us?  Well, we named our program the Winterline Global Skills Program because it gives our participants a new perspective, new tools and skills to experience their lives in a new way.  Our program takes students up and out of their day-to-day lives, and puts them in a new place with a new vantage point from where they can see things differently.  And from this place, just like being up in the mountains at 7,000 ft, they can look beyond the horizon that they are used to seeing and see a new horizon that is just as real. A new horizon that is beautiful, that reflects and refracts light in new and different ways – just like the winterline we named our program after.

We want our students to embrace their experience, push past their fears and insecurities, and allow themselves to travel to that place where they can see beyond the horizon to a new and more beautiful line in the sky.  To look for and follow the Winterline.

 

This Too Shall Pass

NOLS Wind River Range Expedition: “This Too Shall Pass”

I once saw a woman with the words, “This Too Shall Pass” tattooed in huge cursive letters across her chest and collarbone. At the time, I was struck with utter disbelief that someone would mark their body with this quote.  It was ironic to me that she had permanently marked her body with a statement claiming that all things are temporary. I hadn’t thought of this phrase until my experience last week in the Wind River Range of Wyoming in which I was forced to remind myself constantly that “this too shall pass” more so than I hoped. Looking back on my time in the mountains, there is one day in particular that stands out to me as most significant with this quote in mind.

Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Photo By: Anna Nickerson

The infamous “Monday” of my NOLS trip has been quite the conversation piece in my Winterline cohort. Whenever someone mentions this day, there is an audible groan followed by sighs of relief that we are forever done with the misery and pain that ensued that day.  For me, the morning and the afternoon of that day completely juxtapose each other. In hindsight, the stark contrast between various events that day is beautiful, but at the time I failed to appreciate the value of this experience.  

We woke up that Monday morning to copious amounts of snow dumping from the sky in addition to below-freezing conditions. Despite the extreme discomfort that came with dragging my body out of my warm sleeping bag, layering up with every article of clothing I packed, and forcing myself to brush my teeth with snowballs outside, I managed to make it to the “kitchen.” Patrick, Leela, and I huddled underneath our kitchen fly, which was caving from the snow. We boiled some water in hopes of warming ourselves up with “cowboy coffee” and hot cocoa. I decided that to raise the morale of my cooking group, I would make Mickey Mouse pancakes with cranberries and chocolate chips, which were a big success and had us all feeling optimistic about the day to come.

Anna and Alice
Anna and Alice

By the time we were packed up and ready to go, thick snowflakes covered our bags and paved the trail for our hike. We divided ourselves up into small hiking groups and set out through the freshly made winter wonderland, making the hike markedly more tedious than it had been in prior days. While many people have told me since NOLS that this was their least favorite hiking day, I had the complete opposite reaction. Walking alongside the thick trees and frozen rivers that were each buried in light, sparkling snow was a euphoric experience. My hiking group was completely silent during the majority of our walking, which gave me an opportunity to just focus on myself and my thoughts. I found myself being completely present in the moment, something I often struggle to emulate in my day-to-day life. I felt at peace. We all continued to trek through the dense powder until we reached the apex of the hike: the river.

Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Photo By: Anna Nickerson

The river. The merciless river. The monster of a river that we reached when we were almost completely finished with our four-mile hike. As opposed to previous water hazards we had encountered in prior days, this river did not have an obvious trail of rocks to use as a bridge. We spent about twenty minutes scouting up and down the riverbank, trying to find the path of least resistance, but we were unable to do so. We hesitantly accepted our fate, but trusted that our NOLS instructors knew what they were doing. While everyone decided to roll up their pants, I decided that my high-quality boots and gaiters were adequate to protect me from the frigid water. Not a good idea. As I waded through the river, the water reached to just above my knees and I was drenched and felt slightly hypothermic upon reaching the other side. By this point, group morale was at an all-time low. As I heard people complaining and groaning and even crying, I stripped off my soaking wet boots, socks, and one of my layers of pants.  I changed into my “camp shoes,” which were running shoes that did not provide any protection from the frigid cold. I decided to break a rule of fashion in order to warm up and, as much as I hate to admit this, I put plastic bags on my feet as a layer between my socks and my camp shoes. Yes, plastic bags. It was quite the look. After getting somewhat more comfortable, my cooking group and I set up our kitchen flies and hunkered down to drink tea and soup.

Photo By: Anna Nickerson

Although the rest of the evening was freezing cold, ridiculously uncomfortable, and provided us with frozen boots and socks for the next morning, I somewhat tentatively will admit that this day was my favorite day- only in hindsight. When I look back on the morning hike I can only be content with the way in which I lived so effortlessly in the moment. When I look back on the river and the events that followed, I am proud of myself for how I tolerated the adversity. I think that because those two drastically different experiences ensued in the same day, let alone just a few hours, I can appreciate the day for what it is: a day of personal growth. And when I look back on the entire day as a whole I find myself going back to the phrase, “this too shall pass.” Everything is temporary, but what we take from each experience is permanent. I went through various trials and tribulations throughout my 8-day NOLS course, but I will forever have the appreciation and gratitude for that cold Monday ingrained in my mind, whether I like it or not. -AN

Photo By: Anna Nickerson
Photo By: Anna Nickerson

To hear from more students in the field, like Anna, be sure to check out other posts on our Blog, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, we are on Snapchat (@winterliner) and we upload new photos to our Tumblr everyday.

 

Photos of the Week 10/20

Can you Belize it’s Friday again? The weekend is here and we’re rounding up our favorite photos from this past week. Both of our cohorts are in Belize with our blue cohort heading off to Costa Rica soon. Check out our favorite shots of their most recent adventures.

Don’t forget that every Friday we will be putting together our favorite photos and travel highlights from the past week. Be sure to check out last week’s photos, if you missed them. We will be back again with more photos from the field next Friday!

Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Belize Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Photo By: Ed Thompson, Field Advisor
Photo By: Ed Thompson, Field Advisor
Meagan Kindrat Photo
Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Photo By: Ed Thompson, Field Advisor
Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Photo By: Ed Thompson, Field Advisor
Photo By: Ed Thompson, Field Advisor
Photo By : Erica Schultz, Field Advisor
Photo By : Erica Schultz, Field Advisor
Meagan Kindrat Belize
Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Belize Natanielle and Alex
Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Photo By: Erica Schultz, Field Advisor
Photo By: Erica Schultz, Field Advisor
Photo By: Ed Thompson, Field Advisor
meagan kindrat belize
Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Photo By: Ed Thompson, Field Advisor
Photo By: Ed Thompson, Field Advisor
Photo by MK
Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Photo By: Ed Thompson, Field Advisor
Photo By: Ed Thompson, Field Advisor
Meagan Kindrat Photo
Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
Photo By: Ed Thompson, Field Advisor
Photo By: Ed Thompson, Field Advisor
Ridge to Reef Winterline
Photo By: Ridge to Reef

To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook.

Stories from the Field: Leela Ray & NOLS

“My bruises have bruises,” Alice says, but it’s with a smile, because it’s Thursday morning and we’ve just plodded onto the recommissioned school bus that is set to return us to the real world. Where were we? The Wind River range in Wyoming, United States.

Alice, Patrick, Anna, Sophia, Susie, Andrew, Pablo, Liam, Alex, Jack, Natanielle, Hayden and I make up Winterline’s Green Cohort, or as we’ve fondly coined it: The Green Gang. We’ve been together for a little over two weeks, and after a lovely five days of orientation in Estes Park, Colorado, Winterline threw us right into the fire. Eight days, twenty miles, and our entire lives wrapped in eighty liters of water repellent canvas. In partnership with The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) we ventured out into the woods, and I think we all came back with a little more than we expected to find.

What was supposed to be a week of mid forties and minimal precipitation, as per usual late September in Lander, Wyoming, ended up being an average of thirty degrees and about two feet of snowfall throughout the week. In other words, it was cold. Snow and below freezing temperatures made even the most mundane tasks seem exasperating. I struggled to find the energy to brush my teeth in the morning, a task I’m usually hard pressed to accomplish regardless of circumstances. All of our energy was spent keeping warm, for every minute of the day, and doing so meant we ate a lot of food. Namely, cheese.

winterline nols Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow
Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow

I’m someone whose primary sources of food are plant-based and non-processed, but wow did those rules go out the window. When its below freezing the only thing you’re thinking about when looking at food is “how much fat will this have?” Not to avoid it, but to covet it, to shove it in your face. And in case you missed it, cheese is full of fat. So in addition to straight up spoonfuls of peanut butter (of which I had so very many of), we would eat copious amounts of the cultured dairy product just to stay warm at night.

Naturally, we carried every bite of food with us over the week, all dried or processed goods. Every morning and every evening we would get together with our cook groups, crowd around a faltering Whisperlight Stove, and do our very best to chef up something both edible and calorie dense enough to sustain us until our next meal. Every night after our evening meeting we’d sit for up to an hour waiting for the tiny fuel run burner to bring otherwise undrinkable water to a boil. Water that would then be bottled and put in our sleeping bag for temporary warmth. We rationed to ensure that we’d have food for every meal. We had to be creative, but also conservative. The good news? I was lucky to have some pretty proficient people cooking with me. I’d might even be inclined to say we were the best, but that’s besides the point.

Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow
Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow

During the day we’d hike. Though NOLS stands for the National Outdoor Leadership School, it might be more appropriate to call it by its name known by those who partake in the adventures: The No Official Lunch School. Nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and (if you’re were lucky enough to have extra from breakfast) leftovers acted as our lunch as we hiked anywhere between two and five miles each day. Now I’m aware that not everything I’ve said thus far sounds less than appetising, and maybe this won’t change your mind, but the most amazing part of our trip were the hikes themselves. The lengths we traveled and the views we saw were like nothing I’d ever encountered. We made it above the tree line on our fourth day, our highest point being 10,600 feet about sea level. If the altitude didn’t make you swoon, the sight of the snow dusted Wind River Range would.

Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow
Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow

I’m not going to lie, it was excruciatingly difficult at times. We waded through frozen rivers, and pitched tents in the snow; honestly if I see another freeze dried carrot I might cry. But to leave behind the world you know for what some call the bare minimum? It’s an experience like no other.  There is something extremely empowering about knowing you are responsible for not just your survival, but for your ability to thrive out there.

Winterline NOLS Photo by Leela Ray Barlow
Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow

So here we are, the thirteen of us: a handful of musicians, a few sports fanatics, a Spaniard, and a couple of zealots. A motley crew of many beliefs, ideals, and cultures who, if anything else, can agree on the following:

  1. You are capable of far more than you know.
  2. “Ride That Pony” is the single most effective way to raise spirits, with the exception of a good hype circle.
  3. Tummy time (the act of warming your feet of someone’s bare stomach) creates a sacred bond that can never be broken.
  4. And finally, years from now, when this program has long been finished, we will all find solace in the little things: fresh fruits and vegetables, dinosaur oatmeal, and the promise of a warm shower.

 

To hear from more students in the field, like Leela, be sure to check out other posts on our Blog, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, we are on Snapchat (@winterliner) and we upload new photos to our Tumblr everyday.

Photos of the Week 10/13

Every Friday we round up our favorite photos from the past week. Last week we highlighted photos of our blue cohort in Belize. Our green cohort had just returned from their backpacking expedition in NOLS and on Monday they traveled to Belize as well. We’re excited to show you not only some fun shots of our students enjoying the tropical weather of Central America but also of our green cohort’s adventure in Wyoming. We are so proud of them for not only surviving in the wilderness, but thriving as a group!

Every Friday we will be putting together our favorite photos and travel highlights from the past week. So be sure to check back again next Friday for another glimpse into the day to day of our programs.

Andrew in Nols
Andrew having fun in NOLS | Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow 
Green Cohort Nols-Leela Photo
Green Cohort in NOLS | Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow
Sophia and patricks NOLS
Sophia and Patrick at NOLS | Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow
nols anna
Hiking at Wind River Range | Photo By: Anna Nickerson
backpacking Leela ray
Backpacking at NOLS | Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow
Liam backpacking at NOLS | Photo By: Leela Ray Barlow
belize Alex
Green Cohort arriving in Belize. | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Alex hammock
Everyone’s favorite place to hang in Belize, the hammocks. | Photo By: Alex Messitidis
Cody fishing
Cody fishing in Belize | Photo from our Regional Director, Susu.
blue cohort Belize
Blue Cohort walking in Belize | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
sav and dini hiking
Savannah and Dini hiking in Belize | Photo By: Meagan Kindrat
blue cohort in Belize
Blue Cohort in lush Belize | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
Belize Caroline
Caroline enjoying Belize

Lastly, check out this fun video of our green cohort returning from the wilderness. They were so excited to see their field advisors, Ed and Sarah!

 

To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook.

Photos of the Week | 10/6

Happy Friday! The past week was a big one for our Gap Year students. Our blue cohort traveled to Belize where they have been learning skills like kayaking, fly fishing, and research regarding the local lion fish population with Ridge to Reef Expeditions. Meanwhile, our green cohort just finished their wilderness expedition with NOLS. Soon they will be headed to Houston to fly to Belize. Check out these amazing photos from their week of adventures!

Every Friday we will be putting together our favorite photos and travel highlights from the past week. So be sure to check back again next Friday for another glimpse into our programs.

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Blue cohort landing in Belize with our Regional Director, Susu.
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Blue Cohort’s Savannah and Meagan kayaking together in Belize | Photo by: Ridge to Reef
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They spent 5 hours on the open ocean | Photo by: Ridge to Reef
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Blue cohort kayaking in Belize | Photo by: Ridge to Reef
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Blue cohort putting their kayak training into action | Photo by: Ridge to Reef
Caroline Belize
Caroline enjoying Belize
Erica and Savannah
Erica and Savannah enjoying the ocean! | Photo by: Patrick Galvin
Sam and Whitaker
Sam and Whitaker in Belize | Photo by: Patrick Galvin
Blue cohort Belize
Blue Cohort in Belize | Photo by: Patrick Galvin
Blue Cohort Kayak Expedition
Blue Cohort’s Kayak Expedition group enjoying some lunch at a local restaurant in Belize.
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Green Cohort Heading off to NOLS. They were without media for the trip so hopefully we will have more photos soon!

Lastly, check out this silly video of our students having fun on their first night in Belize!

To see more photos of our students in the field be sure to check out our Instagram, Tumblr, and Facebook.

Location Spotlight: Estes Park, Colorado

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Blue Cohort having fun at Orientation | Photo by: Dini Vermaat

Our Gap Year program kicks off with orientation at YMCA of the Rockies located in Estes Park, Colorado. We begin our adventure by introducing students to Winterline while laying the foundation for the rest of the year.

It’s amazing that we get to learn and play in such a beautiful place. Surrounded on three sides by Rocky Mountain National Park, YMCA of the Rockies offers an environment inspired by nature where friends and family can grow closer together while enjoying the natural beauty of the world around them. During their stay in Estes Park our students participate in group discussion, games, and team building activities to strengthen their bond before they embark on their 9 month trip.

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Green Cohort playing morning games
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Anna and Lex during team-building
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Green cohort working as a team
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Elk hanging out at YMCA of the Rockies

 

Do you want to learn more about Estes Park and YMCA of the Rockies?
Check out our fast facts listed below.

  • YMCA of the Rockies has more than 860 acres of Colorado beauty.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park are home to around 3,000 elk.
  • The national park covers 415 square miles of wildflowers and mountain views.
  • The town of Estes Park is one of the highest-rated family destinations in the United States.
  • While staying at the YMCA our students have the opportunity to hike, roller skate, do yoga, observe wildlife, build campfires, and play miniature golf and other outdoor sports.
  • There are over 300 miles of trails to be hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Elk, big horn sheep, marmots, squeaking pikas, and the iridescent broad-tailed hummingbird all find their home in Estes Park.
  • The national park is great for climbing with peaks ranging from 12,000-14,000 feet above sea level.
  • YMCA of the Rockies sits at an elevation of 8,010 feet.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park has more than 265,000 of acres ready to be explored.

Meet The Field Advisors: Erica & Patrick

We are gearing up for our Gap Year orientation and we’re so excited to introduce you to two of our four field advisors. Erica and Patrick will be heading to Colorado to meet with one of our two groups of gap year students.We are so proud to have such strong leaders and experienced travelers as field advisors for the upcoming Gap Year program. For the next nine months Patrick and Erica will be leading our students around the globe for the adventure of a lifetime.

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Meet Erica Schultz

Since 2013, Erica has dedicated her time and talents to leading experiential education student groups through travel across the globe. She has worked with programs in Costa Rica, Ghana, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Myanmar. Through her work in the Peace Corps and her degree in Spanish writing and literature, she has found her passion of creating strong connections with other cultures through their languages. With over four years of leading programs and about 50 student trips under her belt she’s beyond excited for the next nine months with Winterline.

Q: What are you most excited for when it comes to this program?

ES: I’m excited to share my stoke of visiting each country as we move through the trimesters! We are LITERALLY going around the world on this program! That’s a traveler’s dream.

Q: Why did you become a field advisor?

ES: For the last few years I’ve spent a lot of time working with high school students in different countries. Being a Field Advisor for Winterline, I’m given the opportunity to work and create impactful relationships with students that are a little older and have more independence. This program allows them to better control what they want to get out of the program and how it will shape their future. I’ve always been passionate about experiential education and learning outside of the classroom. As an FA I get to fulfill that passion by seeing students thrive through real life situations, through gaining skills that will potentially help shape their decisions later in life, and by gaining a well-rounded global perspective.

Q: What is your favorite thing about traveling?

ES: The feeling of stepping foot in a new and unknown country. It’s so exhilarating to know almost nothing about the place you’ve landed in and not knowing anyone there. Also, FOOD. Always! Trying everything and anything!

Q: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

ES: I haven’t had a home since 2013 (my mom might argue with this since my stuff is in my childhood room of my parents’ house!) I have been working for travel companies, had a small stint in Peace Corps, and pieced together road trips in between to keep the travel ball rolling. Since then, I’ve hit 16 countries (including new states in America) and I am excited to add two new ones to the list from this program.

 

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Meet Patrick Galvin

A natural born leader, Patrick is happiest when his backpack is on and he’s out exploring new places. He is excited excited to join the Winterline family to combine his passions of travel, mentorship, and the love of life through the gap year program. Patrick found his passion for working with young adults during his travels leading programs in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. With about a dozen student trips under his belt, Patrick is excited about taking his leadership to new heights and places with Winterline.

Q: What are you most excited for?

PG: Anytime I pack my backpack to go on an adventure I get excited! I have a long list (the countries we’re going to, the skills we will learn, etc.) but I’m currently most excited to meet everyone in the group and get to know everyone. Each group is unique and every individual brings something special to the table. I can’t wait to find out what those unique qualities are 😉

Q: Why did you become a field advisor?

PG: This job is one of a kind. It is the most rewarding and inspiring job that I have ever come across. Travel has always been an obsession of mine and I love to work with young adults in a mentorship role.

Q: What’s a place that you’ve never been but really want to visit?

PG: I can’t wait to get to India!!! It’s been #1 on my list to get to for the past two years 🙂

Q: Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

PG: The highest elevation I’ve ever hiked to is 5645 meters (18,519 feet).

 

To find out more about all of our amazing field advisors and the rest of our staff, be sure to check out our Winterline Team here.

 

My Dream Gap Year

Dartmouth, Yale, Harvard. Decision Day had arrived and while all my friends were announcing their acceptances into elite colleges, I was buying what my sister calls “grandma sandals” and a 70-litre backpack for what was, and is, supposed to be the adventure of a lifetime. I sat there, observing the stream of committed students and proud mothers, attempting to quell my frustrations. Their senior years had been a breeze as soon as winter holidays hit. Applications were done, and their fun could finally begin, but I was in a different boat.

With the decision of taking a gap year comes a few complications, the first being that most all of the colleges I want to apply to don’t accept deferments. Unlike everyone else, whose grades past their application date are to some extent irrelevant, all my grades are taken into account. However, I didn’t have grades until I started taking classes at my local community college. “Why Leela,” you might ask, “What do you mean you didn’t have grades until community college?” Well, my high school is what I lovingly refer to as a “crunchy granola private school,” and I was legally registered as a homeschooler because my three day a week “learning community” didn’t meet the hour requirements for a legitimate school. For someone who wants to go to Stanford, waiting a year has its pros and cons. On one hand I get more of a chance to prove my worth. The extra time means they have more grades to look at when I apply. On the other hand, I have to take summer classes while everyone else is on vacation because I want the best chance of acceptance possible. Admittedly I’m not looking forward to it, but my saving grace is my gap year. Although, it wasn’t always so easy to say that.

It was the end of junior year, and my school had it’s annual college prep class: five days of exploring secondary education and—more pertinently, alternative options to attending university. My dream gap year was exactly that: a dream. Murky and unknown, with only a few concrete details. I wanted to travel, I wanted to learn about the world beyond my front door, and I wanted to come back with a better idea of what I wanted to do with my life so I wasn’t attending college just to say I was. I had minimal resources and poor planning skills. In addition, traversing the globe alone sounded mildly terrifying for the moment, and I wasn’t sure how much I’d learn if I just did the whole “I’m going to Europe!” thing, so I used that five-day course to explore my options. There was a semester at sea, a year in Ireland, and a handful of other eye-catching options, but none of them quite struck me as fulfilling. In fact, by the time that course was done, I wasn’t quite sure I even wanted to take a gap year anymore. I have a habit of giving up when the going gets hard, and boy was it getting hard. But I kept searching, and one day there it was, a small advertisement sitting in the middle of my facebook feed at two o’clock in the morning: Winterline (cue the commercial music).

My parents were more than skeptical when I told them the next morning. They didn’t really believe that I’d go back to school if I stopped, and to be honest, I felt it too. But I stood there in my fleecy plaid pajamas and I told them my truth: I felt silly applying for esteemed colleges that cost immense sums of money without a plan in mind. Yes, straying from the path is scary, but where I was, and where I am currently, with no clue what I’d even want to study, is scarier. I mean, most everyone has at least an idea of what they wanted from life, and me? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. As I am now, I know who I am, I know my flaws and my strengths, and I’ve finally become very confident in myself and my personality. But ask me what I want to do in college or what I like to do in general, and I’ll probably change the subject.

So yes, this gap year idea is strange, and mildly terrifying. In fact, it was so scary I didn’t even send out grad announcements. I didn’t want to give anyone an excuse to ask me what I’m doing this year, because as excited as I am, there’s still so many questions that I have. And of course there’s the ever looming thought of not getting into my dream school afterwards, that all this work will be for naught. Even since beginning to write this, I’ve had a few panic attacks.

Yet, for all the hard work I’ve been sloughing through; for every party I missed because I had an 8AM class in the middle of July the next morning, for every invite to the lake I declined to work on my SAT studies, and for every late night where I was lost in the plethora of existential crises that plagues my brain; for every one of those moments, there is a moment where I picture myself. Past this summer, past the gap year even, right after the most wonderful adventure in the world. When I think about the end of this, I hold one very specific image in my head: I am settled down one evening, a September sunset streaming through my dorm room window, thinking about my road so far; remembering every obstacle I encountered, and how euphoric it felt to overcome each one. And then future me looks up and smiles, she looks me straight in the eyes and says, “It was all worth it, and Paolo Alto is beautiful.”