New Student Spotlight: Cristina Hoyos

By: Cristina Hoyos | August 2, 2018
Topics: New Student Spotlight
Meet Cristina! She is from Colombia, and has a lot of traveling under her belt. She aspires to create change in education in the future, and thinks that learning in a non-traditional way with Winterline will help broaden her perspectives about education and the world. We are so excited to welcome you to the Winterline family, Cristina! Bienvenido!

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?

My life is a bit monotonous. It has to do with going to school and then heading back home to work on my duties. The academic burden is so high that there is hardly any free time to do what I really enjoy. I used to think that I would have more free time once I entered the University to do what I really want to do and to go out and explore the world. I was of course mistaken, since everyone agrees that academic burden will be much worse than in high school. And what comes after University is the life of grownups, the life of working for a living.  So, I thought that my only chance for total freedom could only come right after finishing high school; time to fly around the world, to know every corner, and to do everything within my reach to understand what I really want to do in life. Leaving to a country and learning their language seemed interesting, but I just did not want to spend more time in classrooms for a while. I wanted to change my routine but keep on learning through life experiences.  This would really be something entirely different and fulfilling. It was at this point that I asked myself: Why not a gap year? Why not take a long enough gap to really live and to take full advantage of my youth and my energy before I start new chapters?

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

I chose to take a gap year for all the reasons I mentioned before and because it is the only thing for which I think it is worth leaving home for a whole year. To get to know the world, to open my mind, to change my routines, to meet new cultures, to leave the perfect bubble where I grew up. The only way to mature and to grow as a person is by leaving home and understanding that the world is much bigger than the very small one where you have spent your entire life as a child. I have always thought that life is made of experiences and memories which cannot possibly be acquired in a classroom, and I want to pursue my belief that one’s problems will always seem smaller if looked at from above.

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I am very excited about everything related to social work. Also, I want to learn to work as a team, with others and for others, and to develop my skills for problem solving. I want to find out how to become a leader in a small group of people who are to live together for a long period of time, all of us going through the same situations.

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

In the future I want to dedicate myself to change. I want to create a movement, small at first, which can be copied or replicated in other environments until it becomes a revolution. This change is mostly related to education, especially in Colombia, where there is a huge imbalance between public and private education. I want to devote my efforts to changing the educational system which exists currently, and for this purpose I feel that I should have from now on a type of education different from traditional education.

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

I have traveled quite a bit during my life, maybe 3 or 4 times every year. It would be very difficult to pick just one trip, as each one has been unique in its own way. In my country, Colombia, my favorite trip was to Choco, where I not only saw beautiful natural settings but also native communities that keep their town in perfect condition without help from the State, and live very proudly of the work they have done together.

Outside Colombia my favorite trip was a student exchange program in 2015, when I was in Europe for a period of five months, first in Switzerland with my friends from school and then by myself with a German family. It was an unforgettable experience that helped me realize the enormous diversity in the world which is impossible to see from one’s birth place, and also made me appreciate my home values while living far away.

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

I expect to gain independence, self assurance, and confidence in my own decisions. I hope to be able to manage problems and conflicts under circumstances other than I am accustomed.

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

I am really looking forward to living this experience with them; I don’t know them yet, but I know that in the future we will all be like a family. I am an open minded person and I love to engage in all kinds of different activities and to say yes to all opportunities that turn up. I don’t like to keep still and I make friends easily, which is typical of Colombians.

WHY WINTERLINE?

A friend of mine, Daniela Mallarino, went with Winterline two years ago, and from that moment I knew that’s what I wanted to do as well. I think it is a very complete and varied program, which is exactly what I am looking for. The program offers many options and its philosophy fully fits my life style: to learn through experience, to meet new environments, to do things that I never expected I would be doing. The organization seems very reliable and has been very helpful from the start. Every person I have talked to has told me that the Winterline program was the best decision they could have made and their best choice in every aspect.

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