Photos of the Week 3/29

Italy, Germany, and Austria, oh my! Among these European countries, Winterline students have been practicing skills like defensive driving, molding and painting masks, making tile mosaics, and learning robotics. Talk about a busy week! Take a look at some of the creations Winterliners have made and adventures they’ve had since last week.

Every Friday we share 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.


Ready for the adventure of a lifetime?

GET STARTED


winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Becoming one with the views | Photo By: Nora Turner
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Enjoying German beers | Photo By: Katie Mitchell
winterline, gap year, europe
Reflection time | Photo By: Emma Mays
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Munich architecture | Photo By: Tyler Trout
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Friends at the ballet | Photo By: Yeukai Jiri
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Life is better at the ballet | Photo By: Yeukai Jiri
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Linnea in Germany | Photo By: Emma Mays
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
At the BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Katie Mitchell
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Hanging out at BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Tyler Trout
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Italian architecture | Photo By: Stella Rose Johnson
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Pasta straight from the source | Photo By: Stella Rose Johnson
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Driving a BMW | Photo By: Brittany Lane
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Christian and Stella in Venice | Photo By: Christian Roch
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Golden hour in Venice | Photo By: Paris Geolas
winterline, gap year, austria, europe
Austrian architecture | Photo By: Spencer Holtschult
winterline, gap year, austria, europe
Scooters in Austria | Photo By: Nora Turner
winterline, gap year, austria, europe
Vienna from above | Photo By: Nora Rich, Winterline Admissions Advisor
winterline, gap year, austria, europe
Robotics time | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Drink up | Photo By: Becky Quilkey
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Paris at BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Paris and Christian in Germany | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Stella in Germany | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Tile mosaics in Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Masks in Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Mask making in Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Mask making in Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Mask making in Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Mask making in Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Glass blowing in Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Making tile mosaics in Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Making tile mosaics in Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Making tile mosaics in Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Making tile mosaics in Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Making tile mosaics in Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Making tile mosaics in Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Sunset silhouettes | Photo By: Abby Dulin

 

Interested in visiting Italy and Germany 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.

The Precarious Art of Singing An Eleven Part Harmony

In music theory there is a term called a polyrhythm: when one hand uses a two count and the other hand counts in three. They are independent beats that carry well on their own, but when intertwined, they mix the way chilies and chocolate do.

In my head, I can draw a line between polyrhythms and love. I’ve been of the belief for a long time that love is not two puzzle pieces of a whole, rather, it is two hearts that beat in time with each other.

I fondly refer to my arrival in Estes Park as a crash landing. The girl who showed up there was desperate for friendship, and trying to speak the languages of twelve other people all at once with no prior learning experience. Smoke and ash filled the air as I smothered people with my presence, and I emerged from the wreck to find myself alone in a crowded room.

winterline, gap year, leela ray
Students at NOLS | Photo By: Leela Ray

I felt that way for quite a while. I missed my home, I missed my friends, I missed my ex. Every once in a while I would dip a toe into the waters of our group, only to recoil as I was scalded by my own mistakes. I stopped dipping my toes in.

I was lonely. My postured state left me unapproachable and callous, which only made me posture more. I had little to lean on save for an electric fence of a person whose touch made my chest numb and brought the taste of metal into my mouth. When I finally pushed him away, the lack of feeling still persisted. It spread into my arms, my head, my legs, my heart… I became a rippled reflection of myself, an unclear image of insecurities and doubt.

I’m what I refer to as a “stress-baker,” the graph that compares anxiety to amount of cupcakes produced is a line with a slope of one. In Costa Rica, at the end of our first trimester, I was assigned to work in a bakery for a week. It became my refuge. My jaw began to unclench, and my shell started to crack. That was the first time I saw Her.

winterline, gap year, leela ray
Leela in Belize

It was early one morning, I rolled over and sat up to see Her walk in on the sunlight that shone through my bedroom window and perch at my feet. She was a mirror image of myself, but something was off. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it was as if She was formed from the dough I’d been rolling, or the dense clouds that fed the forest of Monteverde. It might’ve been the way She stood tall, Her spine straight and strong next to my crippled one. I could feel Her heartbeat as She stood in front of me: jauntily skipping triplets dancing around the dull defeated thud my own two count had taken on in the past months. She reached out, and I felt my own hand raise to meet Her’s. She stood, and I did too. She smiled, and I felt the near forgotten tug at the corners of my chapped lips. Then like a puppet master, She slipped into my shadow, and I watched as my shoulders relaxed and my chin lifted. I didn’t feel so alone.

The last two weeks of that trimester passed in a blur. I was at peace in the company of Her, and for some reason, that brought me closer to the people in our cohort. I went home no longer dreading my return to Winterline, but longing for it. Yet as the winter holidays passed, the proverbial “cuffing season” seemed to be ending. I saw less and less of Her, and more and more of someone not quite who I was, but not quite whom I wanted to be either. I felt abandoned by Her. I knew better than when I started this whole thing, but I also had a long ways to go, so I arrived in Cambodia with a new idea: stop thinking, start doing.

winterline, gap year, leela ray
Cambodian temple | Photo By: Leela Ray

Tired of constantly being stuck inside my own head, I set out to really immerse myself in the countries we visited, and consequently I fell in love. It was painful at first, being alone. My heart was heavy with it’s hollow pulse. But as with every breakup, the more time that passed, the less I thought of Her.

I fell in love so many times I’ve lost count. I basked in the embrace of the Thai sun, Cambodia’s history stole my breath, India whispered secrets in my ear late at night and Venice made my knees weak with its beauty. Germany was a tease, its cold touch sending shivers down my spine, and Austria showed me that a second chance over good drinks can change your perspective. I became un-numb. With every new experience I grew, and with every day I woke up feeling a little fuller, and little more independent, a little less lonely for Her.

Every country gave me a piece of it, but Hungary was a place that made me want to give a piece of myself back. Something about the way the wind pulled at my hair by the river, and how the people spoke to my soul made me want to stay forever. Budapest grabbed my hand and dragged me to places I never expected to see; it held me up when I felt like I couldn’t stand, challenged me to see in new lights and brought me soup when I had a fever of 102 degrees. Hungary ripped off my blinders and helped me see beyond myself, I was alive. 

winterline, gap year, leela ray
Leela and friends celebrating Holi

On my last morning there, I dragged myself out of bed and into the bathroom. Blinking in the harsh light, I kept my head down to brush my teeth and wash my face. I was resistant to leave, to pack my things and return to the noise of my group, but I knew my time in Budapest had taught me all it could. I paused for a moment, feeling the water drip off my chin, and reflected on the person I’d become. I felt stronger and more competent than I ever had before, and despite my want to stay, I knew I was ready to step out into the world. With a new resolve, I grabbed my towel to dry my face, and when I finally looked in the mirror, I felt my breath hitch in my throat. Someone else was looking back at me. Graceful and confident, eyes ablaze with passion and courage, slender yet strong fingers holding the same towel I felt in my own grasp. I raised my hand to touch my face, and so did She.

 

New Student Spotlight: Emmie Daswani

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


 

WHAT’S YOUR FULL NAME?

Maya Emily Daswani but everyone calls me Emmie, long story as to why. I’m from a small coastal town in New Hampshire called North Hampton!

winterline, gap year, emmie
Emmie is a model!

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 first introduced to the idea in the spring of last year when one of my good friends decided to do a gap year program similar to Winterline.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

I still am unsure of what exactly I want to do and where I want to go, I think that a year to grow and explore would be very beneficial and could help me figure out what direction I want to go in in terms of a career path.

winterline, gap year, emmie
Emmie and her friends at the Patriots Parade in Boston.

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I’m really excited about safe driving in Germany. I am really into cars and I think that being able to drive BMWs in Germany is going to be an unforgettable experience.

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

I thought that I wanted to go into hospitality but as time goes on I’m not sure, I might want to do something in marketing or communications. Honestly, I have no real idea, I’m hoping over the next year I’ll have a better idea of what I want to do.

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

I’ve done a good amount of traveling throughout my life tagging along on my moms business trips, and have been lucky enough to visit 6/7 continents. I also briefly lived in Tokyo for my Dad’s job when I was little. My favorite trip had to have been to India; my dad was from India so it was interesting to discover that side of myself and see how different my life could have been. It really put things into perspective for me and made me more appreciative of what I have.

winterline, gap year, emmie
Emmie and her mom in Geneva.

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

I’m hoping to continue to deepen my perspective on the world and figure out what skills I enjoy doing. As I said before I have no idea what direction I want to go in and I’m hoping that this year will help push me in the direction of the path I want to go down.

winterline, gap year, emmie
Celebrating the 4th of July at Ossipee Lake.

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

I’m very outgoing, laidback and like to stretch out of my comfort zone. I’m also a pretty sarcastic person so I shouldn’t be taken very seriously at all. I’m so excited to meet everyone I’ll be traveling with and can’t wait to get to know them over the 9 months we’ll spend together!

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I never know what to say to these questions. I love music and play a few instruments. I’m a huge New England sports fan, my high school superlatives were “Worst Case of Senioritis” and “Class Clown” and a normal person’s internal temperature is 98.6 degrees. Mine is 98.5, I’m just a little cooler than everyone else.

winterline, gap year, emmie
A marsh near Emmie’s house.

Photos of the Week 3/22

Now that our students are in Europe with speedy internet, we have a whole lot of pictures to show: this is a long one! This week, Squad 1 began in Italy, where they enjoyed plenty of pizza and gelato, had a photography contest, created tile mosaics, and got to handmake and paint their own Venetian masks. Busy week! Squad 2, meanwhile, started off in Germany, where they got a lesson in safe driving at the BMW Driving Experience. Now our squads have swapped locations, and are off to practice the next skills on the list.

Every Friday we share 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.


Ready for the adventure of a lifetime?

GET STARTED


winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Italy at sunset | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
The canals of Venice | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Abby taking a quick break from all the sightseeing in Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
The canals are full of life | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Gelato time! | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Cristina and Abby enjoying Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Colorful houses in Burano | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
One of our Italy photo contest winners | Photo By: Katie Mitchell
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Nothing like pizza in Italy | Photo By: Becky Quilkey
winterline, gap year, Italy, europe
Nothing like traveling with friends | Photo By: Brittany Lane
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Squad 2 at BMW Headquarters in Germany
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Capturing the culture of Italy | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Cristina enjoying the views in Italy | Photo By: Cristina Hoyos
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Cristina enjoying the local cuisine | Photo By: Cristina Hoyos
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Graffiti on the streets of Munich | Photo By: Emma Mays
winterline, gap year, europe, germany
More graffiti! | Photo By: Emma Mays
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Katie having a glass of wine | Photo By: Katie Mitchell
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Paris and Micah hanging out in Germany | Photo By: Micah Romaner
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Paris driving at BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Paris Geolas
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Paris and Micah celebrating St. Patrick’s Day | Photo By: Paris Geolas
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
German architecture | Photo By: Paris Geolas
winterline, germany, europe, gap year
Christian and Paris with a BMW | Photo By: Paris Geolas
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Welcome to Germany | Photo By: Paris Geolas
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Paris looking out at the view | Photo By: Paris Geolas
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Beautiful buildings in Italy | Photo By: Spencer Holtschult
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Becky exploring Italy | Photo By: Spencer Holtschult
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Venetian masks | Photo By: Spencer Holtschult
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Becky and Spencer in Italy | Photo By: Spencer Holtschult
winterline, gap year, Italy, europe
Becky and Spencer in front of the canals | Photo By: Spencer Holtschult
winterline, gap year, Italy, europe
Views on views | Photo By: Tyler Trout

 

winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Gelato never looked so good | Photo By: Becky Quilkey
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Italian architecture | Photo By: Lydia Summermater
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Abby and Tyler posing in Italy | Photo By: Tyler Trout
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Squad 1 in Italy
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Hanging out at the BMW Driving Experience | Photo By: Christian Roch
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Reflection in the canal | Photo By: Will Vesey
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Views through the gates | Photo By: Will Vesey
winterline, gap year, italy, europe
Italian architecture | Photo By: Will Vesey
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Linnea at the National Theater in Munich | Photo By: Linnea Mosier
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Views in Germany | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, germany, europe
Sights from up above | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, Italy, europe
Nora modeling in Italy | Photo By: Nora Turner
winterline, gap year, Italy, europe
Taking in the beauty of Italy | Photo By: Nora Turner

 

Interested in visiting Italy and Germany 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.

Hear Me Roar: ThinkImpact Director Gabriela Valencia

In October 2018, fellow Winterliners and I volunteered in the small town of Piedras Gordas, nestled in the mountains of Panama. Under the guidance of ThinkImpact instructors, each of us chose to work with one local entrepreneur: Señor Onecimo, Señora Edithe, or Señor Ernesto. During our stay, we embarked on projects ranging from constructing trails through the jungle to planting one hundred coffee shrubs. To gain a better understanding of the goals of the ThinkImpact program, I spoke with Gabriela Valencia, ThinkImpact Country Director for Panama.

winterline, think impact, gap year
Gabriela Valencia

Could you tell me about yourself? What motivates you?

Gabriela: I was born and raised in Panama, specifically in Panama City. Like many Panamanians I am the product of a mixture of cultures. My mom grew up in Argentina and my dad is Panamanian. But I was born here, so I’ve known Panama my whole life. At the same time, I grew up in a household where influences from Argentina played an important role in my life.

I studied in Panama and attended architecture school. When I finished studying, I started working for different architecture firms. In 2007, I received a Fulbright scholarship and got my masters degree in architecture from Ball State University, Indiana. My studies really emphasized human-centered-design and more of a social approach to architecture.

When I came back to Panama it was hard to find social development projects that were very connected to architecture. So I started looking for other opportunities and ended up working for an NGO called Global Brigades. It’s a large organization that uses a holistic development model to improve quality of life for people around the world. They start with public health and then they move into things like economic empowerment, human rights, and environmental conservation. Global Brigades supports and focuses on university students. The idea is that you meet the interests of students and connect them with communities that have certain needs, but that can also teach them things. It’s a really unique chance for both the students and the community to learn from each other.”

Could you give me an overview of ThinkImpact and its mission? How is it different from Global Brigades?

Gabriela: Sure. ThinkImpact is centered more around social innovation, while Global Brigades is development. ThinkImpact focuses on shorter skill-building projects while Global Brigades focuses on more long-term goals.

ThinkImpact connects students with communities to develop solutions to local issues and improve the quality of life within the community. At the same time, ThinkImpact teaches students how to work with local entrepreneurs and utilize their assets to create lasting change. ThinkImpact provides an environment for students to learn outside of the classroom and apply their knowledge through tangible social interactions and hands-on projects.”

ThinkImpact in Rwanda

What is your role in the organization?

Gabriela: My role is to identify potential entrepreneurs and partners that match the skills that the students can bring to make it a positive experience for everyone involved.

How do you choose a community to work with?

Gabriela: Sure. ThinkImpact is centered more around social innovation, while Global Brigades is development. ThinkImpact focuses on shorter skill-building projects while Global Brigades focuses on more long-term goals.

ThinkImpact connects students with communities to develop solutions to local issues and improve the quality of life within the community. At the same time, ThinkImpact teaches students how to work with local entrepreneurs and utilize their assets to create lasting change. ThinkImpact provides an environment for students to learn outside of the classroom and apply their knowledge through tangible social interactions and hands-on projects.”

How was Piedras Gordas chosen?

Gabriela: Piedras Gordas was a community that was recommended to us by organizations that had worked there previously. We chose it because it met all of our criteria regarding the needs of the community and learning opportunities for students. Personally, I have experience working in Piedras Gordas with Global Brigades, so I knew the community quite well. I knew a lot of the overall needs of the community and could match them to learning opportunities for students. Piedras Gordas has a lot of experience from various partnerships in the past years and that knowledge is one of their greatest assets.”

global gap year winterline

What do you hope we take away from our homestay experience in Piedras Gordas, Panama?

Gabriela: To me, human interaction is the most important aspect of the program. By coming to a place like Piedras Gordas, students move out of their comfort zone in a lot of ways. Students leave home and come to a place where they don’t speak the language; where they have to get used to new environment and a different culture. One of the most valuable take-aways is to always maintain an open mind to human interactions. Approaching homestays knowing that you’re going to be uncomfortable, but that taking chances while trying to communicate with people is a valuable learning experience. This openness is an important skill and mindset not only for homestays, but for life in general.

winterline, gap year, Panama
Renovation in Piedras Gordas | Photo By: Benjamin Kilimnik

Something that I explain to students is that when you’re here for a short amount of time, it can be hard to realize the specific impact you’ve made. However, – even if you didn’t create something tangible – by interacting and communicating with your hosts, you have built trust and intercultural empathy. When you consider a longer timespan like I’ve been able to, you realize how valuable these interactions are for everyone involved. The skills of open-mindedness and empathy you learn here are things you can take with you wherever you go.

What do you find most rewarding about your job at ThinkImpact?

Gabriela: My role is all about connecting students with members of the community. I try to make sure that the community’s needs are met while providing opportunities for students to expand their worldview. For me there’s nothing more satisfying than when an experience is meaningful and enjoyable for both the student and a community member. Moments like that are by far the best thing about my job.

Kids Who Travel More Perform Better in School

Can traveling more actually lead to better grades? A survey conducted by the Student and Youth Travel Association (SYTA) suggests that this is true. So if you’re trying to convince your parents to take you on vacation, or better yet, are searching to validate your dream of a gap year, look no further.

The SYTA surveyed approximately 1,500 U.S.-based teachers to examine the social impact that international travel has on students. The survey found that 74% of teachers believe travel has a very positive impact on students’ personal development. 56% believe it has a very positive impact on students’ education and career as well.

In fact, teachers believe that travel has an educational benefit in the same way that Winterline does. We like to focus on learning skills hands-on, outside the classroom. Almost 80% of teachers agreed that travel is extremely effective as a teaching resource compared to computer-based learning. 45% of teachers also agree that travel is extremely effective compared to classroom instruction alone. There truly is no better way for students to learn something than by trying it themselves! 

The positive impact on students themselves is noteworthy, too: the effects of travel include an increased willingness to know, learn and explore; better adaptability and sensitivity; increased tolerance and respectfulness across culture and ethnicity; increased independence and confidence; better self-expression; and more. You can find the entire list of results on the SYTA website.

And finally, 76% of teachers said that they observed students wanting to travel even more after participating in international travel. So why not apply for a program that brings you on not just one, or two, or three destinations, but ten? Check out a Winterline gap year for all of these benefits and more! However, if you or your parents worry that all this travel will make you want to forfeit higher education and career entirely, don’t fret. The survey also found that students who travel have an increased desire to attend college. So what are you waiting for?

 

Photos of the Week 3/15

Throughout their time in India, Winterline students have worked with a variety of partners such as UWC Mahindra College and Aerie Medicine to practice skills like hiking, self-care, and cooking. This is our last batch of India photos to highlight, so be sure to take a good look and get an idea of what time abroad in this incredible country is like. And, of course, stay tuned for the upcoming photos from Europe!

Every Friday we share 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.


Ready for the adventure of a lifetime?

GET STARTED


winterline, gap year, India
Taking in the view | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, India
Playful pups | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, India
Meal prep with Lydia and Alex | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, India
Making friends in the hills | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, India
Pretty kitty | Photo By: Becky Quilkey
winterline, gap year, India
Brittany enjoying life by the water | Photo By: Brittany Lane
winterline, gap year, India
Brittany and Noah soaking up India | Photo By: Brittany Lane
winterline, gap year, India
Abby exploring the beach | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, India
Nora getting her dose of puppy time | Photo By: Nora Turner
winterline, gap year, India
City views are great in any weather | Photo By: Stella Johnson
winterline, gap year, India
Stella and Christian make the view even more beautiful | Photo By: Christian Roch
winterline, gap year, India
Christian and Paris spreading love in India | Photo By: Christian Roch
winterline, gap year, India
Ivan preparing to battle Thanos | Photo By: Ivan Kahn
winterline, gap year, India
Ivan taking Thanos down | Photo By: Ivan Kahn
winterline, gap year, India
Between the houses | Photo By: Katie Mitchell
winterline, gap year, India
Getting to know the culture through the food | Photo By: Katie Mitchell
Winterline, gap year, India
Checking out some homes | Photo By: Katie Mitchell
winterline, gap year, India
Admiring the graffiti | Photo By: Katie Mitchell
winterline, gap year, India
Ivan looking out at the landscape | Photo By: Maria O’Neal
winterline, gap year, India
Micah and Paris: flower children | Photo By: Micah Romaner
winterline, gap year, India
Micah and Linnea make messy eating look fun | Photo By: Micah Romaner
winterline, gap year, India
Squad love | Photo By: Micah Romaner
winterline, gap year, India
Power posing | Photo By: Micah Romaner
winterline, gap year, India
Paris and Christian basking in the sunset | Photo By: Paris Geolas

Interested in visiting India 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.

New Student Spotlight: Jacob Rona

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 was first introduced to the idea of a gap year during my sophomore year of high school.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

Something that was very important to me after high school was to take a break and not go directly to college.  I needed a gap year whether it was working in sports, law, or traveling.

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I’m really excited to learn defensive driving in Germany.  German cars are some of the best out there so to be at BMW and do something like that is really a special experience.

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

In the future, I really want to go into politics or some sort of sports management.  Whether it be representing players or teams, that is something I have a lot of passion towards.

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

I have done a bunch of traveling domestically (US), and a little bit internationally.  Last summer I did a French language immersion trip in Paris where I met tons of new people and had more fun then I could’ve asked for.

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

I expect to gain a better sense of myself and the world around me.

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

I’m very outgoing.

WHY WINTERLINE?

Winterline is the best program for me.  The mix of traveling and practical skills is something that I was looking for in a gap year program.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I have played guitar and bass since I was in second grade.

8 Ways to Have the Best Gap Year: Part II

Last week we posted part I of our tips for having a great gap year. Here’s the rest of our advice!

IMG_6269.jpg

5. Pursue one (or more than one) potential career.

One reason many people take gap years is because they don’t know exactly what they want to study. This doesn’t mean they don’t have interests, but they may not be able to decide on just one major.

If you are considering a few different areas of study, try them all during your gap year. You may find you hate engineering, are bad at coding, but really enjoy marine biology.

Pursuing your fields of interest may help focus you for college, so be sure to structure your gap year in a way that you can try multiple things, check some off your list, and enter college with a good idea of what you want to study.

IMG_7072.jpg

6. At least plan the first few months.

Starting a gap year is a stressful process. You are leaving your friends and family to do something that is not normal. This will be a lot less stressful if you at least know what you’re about to go do. After all, you have a limited time with just one year. You want to make it count. Still, you don’t want to over-plan your gap year to the point that you have no room for flexibility. Plan at least the first three months so that you have a reason to walk out the door and start your adventure.

Within the first month, you will get into a rhythm and have confidence in what you’re doing. Once you’re well into your gap year, you may be confronted with other exciting opportunities. You might meet someone who owns a ranch, and has invited you to come work with them. You might make some friends who want you to join them on their trek along the Inca Trail.

If you have committed to one twelve-month project, you have removed your ability to be flexible and say, “yes” to serendipity. A good way to solve this problem is to either commit yourself to a few months in the beginning, or to find a program that offers a full range of experiences.

IMG_7669.jpg

7. Stop worrying about your peers.

You are about to accomplish more than they will in their freshman year. If you think about them while on your gap year, you will slow yourself down.

You are taking a gap year because you want to take a leap and do something big. Do NOT spend this time looking to what everyone else is doing.

If you are looking for guidance before embarking on your gap year, talk to someone who has taken a gap year – not someone who has had the same experiences as you, and who is choosing to go straight to college. If it helps, please feel free to get in touch with me at ben@winterline.com. I love talking about this stuff.

IMG_7483.jpg

8. Be prepared to learn (don’t be prepared to teach).

Many people spend their gap years teaching at a school in another country (myself included), which is awesome, but you’ll likely learn at least as much from the experience as your students do.

Your students will teach you about life in their hometown and in their country. Be a sponge. This is your year to soak everything up that you can. You are not yet halfway to the average human life expectancy, which means the average person you’ll encounter on your gap year is older than you, and has more life experience than you.

You have more to absorb than you do to share. This is not meant as an insult, but as a motivator. This is exciting! You have so much unfinished business. So defer for a year, and go do it all.

Photos of the Week 3/8

India: full of sunrises and sunsets, self-care and self-expression, new skills and new photos! Next week, our students will be leaving for Europe, so be sure to soak in the glory of India through their eyes while you can. This week, Winterliners visited Red Stone Organic Farm, celebrated an early Holi, and practiced playing the berimbau, among other adventures!

Every Friday we share 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.


Ready for the adventure of a lifetime?

GET STARTED


winterline, gap year, india
Busy in the streets | Photo By: Becky Quilkey
winterline, gap year, india
Taking it all in | Photo By: Brittany Lane
winterline, gap year, india
Another Indian sunset | Photo By: Linnea Mosier
winterline, gap year, india
Tree hugger | Photo By: Nora Turner
winterline, gap year, India
Spices galore | Photo By: Spencer Holtschult
winterline, gap year, India
At the farm | Photo By: Spencer Holtschult
winterline, gap year, india
Learning the berimbau | Photo By: Becky Quilkey
winterline, gap year, India
Early Holi celebration with Brittany and Jason | Photo By: Brittany Lane
winterline, gap year, India
Jason and Brittany celebrating Holi | Photo By: Brittany Lane
winterline, gap year, India
Artwork with our partner organization | Photo By: Soulsphere Pune
winterline, gap year, India
More art | Photo By: Soulsphere Pune
winterline, gap year, India
Daily life in India | Photo By: Spencer Holtschult
Winterline, gap year, India
Incredible views | Photo By: Spencer Holtschult
Winterline, gap year, India
Lunch never looked so good | Photo By: Spencer Holtschult
winterline, gap year, India
Posing in front of the backdrop | Photo By: Spencer Holtschult
Winterline, gap year, India
Puppy love | Photo By: Spencer Holtschult
winterline, gap year, India
Traffic patterns | Photo By: Will Vesey
winterline, gap year, India
Not a bad view | Photo By: Will Vesey
winterline, gap year, India
Up close and personal with Jason | Photo By: Will Vesey

 

Interested in visiting India 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.

Tuktuks and Tourists

A roundtrip tuk tuk ride to the Cambodian Landmine Museum for the seven of us, which will need to include two carts and takes about an hour each way, costs eighteen dollars total. The leather on the seat is cracking and worn, but comfortable. Our tuk tuk drivers speak enough English to negotiate prices, but not to answer any questions that we have about the ride there. We don’t even know enough Khmer to say “thank you” yet, so we resort to smiles and grip the hanging handrails as we begin the journey. My tuk tuk pulls ahead slightly when the second has to pull over to get gas, a process which involves pouring something close to gasoline out of an old Fanta litre bottle into the fuel tank. Gas pumps are few and far between outside the city.

winterline, gap year, cambodia
View of the road outside the Landmine Museum | Photo By: Paris Geolas

We weave through the streets of Siem Reap, and I can’t keep my eyes in one place. Half the drivers are on motorbikes, some with up to two other passengers casually perched on the back. Most of the motorbike drivers are Cambodian, ranging from kids on their way back from school in their white and navy uniform, to people in street clothes, which consists of solid colored pants and shirts. The only people in tank tops and shorts are tourists. They, like us, are lounging in the backs of tuk tuks, hiding behind pairs of Ray-Bans and shielded from the heat. Tuk tuks and motorbikes make up most of the vehicles on the road, but there are a few cars and buses in between.

The traffic patterns remind me of being a kid and dropping a chip on the ground and slowly watching ants engulf and extirpate it. It’s a system, but impossible to understand as an outsider. To my ignorant eyes, it seems like utter chaos. Lanes are nonexistent, everyone drives like they own the road. Even at a standstill, motorbikes swerve in between cars and tuk tuks to be the first to turn. I have yet to see a single traffic light. Yet there is a method, and they do own the road. The drivers look disinterested in what is just their daily commute, as I am completely engrossed.

As we head out of the center of Siem Reap the shops and buildings begin to thin out, and road stands take their place. They boast of discounted brand apparel, mostly knockoff Supreme and Adidas. Huge Chinese lantern stands gleam red and gold, almost spilling into the street. The dirt from the road turns from a gray brown to orange the further out we get. I initially try to move my hair out of my face, but eventually give up completely. The strands of dirty blonde flying in front of my eyes add to the experience. Nicole sits in front of me, her red backpack strap wrapped around her ankle. Motorbikes have been known to fly by tuk tuks and snatch bags. We yell to each other to be heard over the motor, but I don’t have much to say.

Now twenty minutes outside the city, road stands have snacks and piles of simple button down shirts and the infamous “elephant pants”, loose enough to fend off sweat stains, respectful enough to wear to temples, and trendy enough to pull off, all for only a couple dollars. These stands are made for tourists. There are also huge pots sitting low to the ground with billowing smoke. When we ask what they are, James buys us a sample of the contents, palm sugar drops. He tells us they also make palm wine, something that we shouldn’t try in our time here because there’s no way we have the alcohol tolerance. The palm sugar drops are smokey sweet with a grainy texture. I don’t want to eat any more but I can imagine that it would taste great wedged between the back of my cheek and my molars, laying underneath the sun in a hammock staring up at the leaves, as I see a lot of the people we pass are doing. We pass rice fields being burned to bring back the nutrients, one of the reasons that the sky is perpetually gray. It makes the palm trees look even more green. A shirtless teenage boy stands in a puddle a few feet deep with a fishing net. The kids on the side of the road smile and wave to us. We wave back.

When we reach the Landmine Museum, it’s tough to walk around. Founded by Aki Ra, a former child soldier during the Khmer Rouge, the museum doubles as a safehouse for children seeking an education. There are rooms full of the children’s paintings right next to the rooms full of thousands of disabled landmines. It makes you feel something you can’t quite describe, but it’s nothing different from what you felt on the tuk tuk drive over. After spending a few hours at the museum, we walk to the shake stand next door and drink out of coconuts. You can even get an Angkor (the local beer) if you want. I sit there watching, and something in the road catches my attention.

A motorbike rushing by hits one of the street dogs crossing the road. The dog starts howling and the bystanders stand up, some of them rushing to the side of the street. The driver falls, screaming, and the bike skids across the road. The woman who gave us our tickets rushes away from the scene with her now crying child. A couple people rush to help the man up, and he pushes them off and grabs his bike. The dog is nowhere to be seen. He wheels the bike over to the side of the road, dusts himself off, and doesn’t respond to the people shouting at him in Khmer. A couple minutes later, he gets on the bike and drives away. 

winterline, gap year, cambodia
View of truck on the drive | Photo By: Paris Geolas

I used to call myself a driver but now I no longer feel entitled to that name. The tuktuk drive to the Landmine Museum is beautiful, I never for a second wanted to close my eyes. But there is something else that eats away at you, something you do want to close off. It’s the feeling you don’t have a name for, not guilt, not empathy. It hollows you. It would be impossible to travel to a place like Cambodia and not check your privilege. You see it in your hotel mirror, in the thread count of your jeans, in the plastic cards filling up your wallet. The tuktuk drive has left me with orange dirt on my T shirt, a shirt which cost more than the entire drive. I am more thankful for the clothes I wear. I am thankful for the knots in my hair from the wind on the drive.

8 Ways to Have the Best Gap Year: Part I

Tiny_House_group_photo-gap-year-program.jpg

1. Defer for a year.

Before you graduate from high school, apply to college along with everyone else. You may be anxious about college, which is why you want to take a gap year. But if you don’t apply to college while you’re in high school, you will spend your entire gap year stressing out about what comes next. Even if you defer for a year, you can always change your mind and go somewhere else. But you will at least be set up to start your education.

From the college’s perspective: While colleges do encourage gap years, they want to see that you have a plan. Getting started early (or on time) shows that you are serious, and intend on having a constructive, productive gap year. This tip is huge. Nobody wants you to spend your gap year sitting at your parents’ kitchen table, stressing out about college applications.

Before applying to colleges, check in with each school’s admissions office to see how they treat deferrals. Asking will not hurt your chances of getting in, and it is crucial that you find schools that are encouraging of your decision to take a year, and will honor any scholarships you have been awarded. We live in a wonderful time, when most universities understand the value of a gap year, and will honor the scholarships you were offered during your time in high school.

bamae_operating_power_tools_tiny_house.jpg

2. Confront your weaknesses.

This one’s exciting. This is a time in your life when you should acknowledge your weaknesses, and confront them head-on. Figure out what you are afraid of, and do specifically that.

Your gap year is a relatively risk-free time. You haven’t made a substantial multi-year investment; you likely don’t have a mortgage, kids, or accountability to other people. This is a rare chance to jump into the deep end and do what makes you nervous, without any serious repercussions or lost opportunities; college will still wait for you.

Are you bad at speaking French? Go to France. Have you always wanted to get SCUBA certified, but are nervous about deep water? Go to Cambodia and jump in the water with a dive instructor. Are you interested in business management, but are nervous about public speaking? Join a business program and enter a public speaking boot camp.

If there are real risks to any of your interests, just be sure to pursue them through a reputable program. Other than that, your gap year will be the perfect time to overcome any fears you have about pursuing your interests. You will become a stronger, more confident, more interesting person.

Media_Team_four-gap-year-program.jpg

3. Travel.

This may seem obvious, but there are countless benefits to traveling that go beyond seeing beautiful places and doing cool things. You are likely just graduating high school, and have spent your childhood at home with your family.

Families are more than a group of people with the same accent and nose. They are a group of people with similar values and experiences. When you travel, you meet countless people from different families – with different values, and different experiences. With this, come different opinions on politics, religion, the economy, and even on Justin Bieber (his “Purpose” album was actually pretty good).

Traveling will introduce you to totally different experiences and perspectives – some that you never thought of. You may try a food that is considered disgusting at home, but is actually pretty good. You may hear an opinion about your home country’s political leader, and you might find out how your government interacts with the rest of the world. In some cases, traveling may help you appreciate the way things are at home. Either way, it will give your thoughts more perspective, and your opinions more bases for legitimacy. Traveling creates well-rounded global citizens, and fosters empathy. Everyone should try it.

butler_academy_books_on_head2.jpg

4. Work.

You have a high school degree. Congratulations! You’ve worked and studied for most of your life, so your degree really is a huge accomplishment. A college degree may be your next goal, but do you know what that degree is worth? I don’t mean how much it costs, but rather what its value is.

Spend part of your gap year working at a job, and you will quickly discover the value of your high school degree. Most likely, you will be able to get entry-level jobs that require little skill. You may get a job in customer service, data entry, or manual labor, but it is extremely difficult to get a job in your field of interest right out of high school.

I myself spent part of my gap year doing data entry in a factory that makes fluorescent light fixtures, I worked as a telemarketer, and I worked in customer service. Working during your gap year will quickly show you the kinds of jobs you can get with your new high school diploma, and will be a huge motivator to go to college and get a higher level degree.

IMG_7312.jpg

Photos of the Week 3/1

Welcome to India! Last week, our students arrived in the city of Pune. So far, they’ve had some time to explore the city, visit the Mahindra United World College of India, and practice self-care at an ashram. They even found time to cuddle up with some puppies! This is just the beginning of Winterline’s adventure in India, so stay tuned to see more skills and more exciting photo ops.

Every Friday we share 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.


Ready for the adventure of a lifetime?

GET STARTED


gap year, winterline, india
Welcome to India! | Photo By: Nora Turner
winterline, gap year, india
Snuggly pups | Photo By: Nora Turner
winterline, gap year, India
Days in the sun | Photo By: Spencer Holtschult
winterline, gap year, India
Taking in the views | Photo By: Will Vesey
winterline, gap year, India
Puppy love | Photo By: Nora Turner
winterline, gap year, India
Spices galore | Photo By: Nora Turner
winterline, gap year, India
Sunsets with friends | Photo By: Spencer Holtschult
winterline, gap year, India
Views from UWC Mahindra College | Photo By: Abby Dulin
winterline, gap year, India
A visit to the ashram | Photo By: Linnea Mosier
winterline, gap year, India
Making four-legged friends | Photo By: Linnea Mosier
Winterline, gap year, India
Enjoying India | Photo By: Linnea Mosier
winterline, gap year, India
Unbeatable views | Photo By: Tyler Trout

Interested in visiting India 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.