Guide for Preparing to Live in a Different Country

Moving to another country is something most people dream of. Sometimes, you just feel like your home is out there, and once you locate the exact place where you want to get to, you will be truly happy. You have to be sure that this is just the place you want to live in, so you can have your best life, right in your dream city. But, moving to a new city will require you to be sure you have everything need. A guide to preparing for living in a different country is just the help you need.

What do you need to do before you move?

Once you decided to move to another country, you must be certain that you are ready to live in it. Moving is not really the hardest part of this. You can simply hire an experienced moving company, like verrazanomoving.com. You will have to take care of the documents for the relocation, so make sure you:

  • Have as much money as you can save- you will need it in your new city
  • Make sure your passport won’t expire by the moving date or get a new one
  • Get the documents you need for your visa
  • Get the visa- it’s the most important thing to do in the guide to preparing for living in a different country
  • Copy your important documents
  • Transfer utilities so you don’t have to deal with it once you move
  • Call your phone and internet company
  • Decide how you will travel and get the plane ticket if you need to
  • If you are moving with your pet, make sure you have all its documents ready
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Take care of utilities, documents and renew your passport before the moving day approaches

Once you are ready to move, you have to make sure you are completely ready for this relocation. Make sure you really do research that will reveal everything you need to know. The best way to do this might be to simply visit the place by yourself for as long as you can so you can get to know it as much as possible. This way, you will know exactly what to expect and what you need to get more information on.

Why do you need a guide to preparing for living in a different country?

Moving experience is often overwhelming so there is quite a big chance that you will forget something. This is not just about the documents you need to have once you start moving, but about everything you need to get to know before your relocation. Just when you are preparing for your gap year and need a packing list for your gap year abroad. You will simply be too excited to remember everything. But, get the guide for living abroad and you will be just fine.

Living is not as same as visiting, but still, visit

One of the best ways to make sure you will feel great in your new city is to visit it and make sure you love it. The thing is, if you like a city in a picture or from someone else’s story, you might end up being very disappointed with what you find. Make sure you know just what you get. If you like history, you will probably choose a place that is perfect for a history lover. By visiting it, you can be certain that it is just what you want. Never go unaware of what is waiting for you.

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Visit your new country as a tourist before you move so you can get to know it better

Learn about the culture

Not just the culture, but the mentality is an important thing to be familiar with as well. It’s just amazing how different people from two different states can be. Not just that, but both cultural and reverse culture shock can really affect your life. Maybe the new country you go to turns out to be just what you need, in the cultural sense of the word. That is why you should make sure you get to know it as much as you can. You should also learn the language if you can.

Make new friends

Get to know the people who live in your future home. This way, you will be able to learn so much about both the country and its culture. If you want to go to one of the colleges that are encouraging you to take a gap year, spend this year making friends and learning about the new country. You will be prepared.

Search online for things you want to see and do in your new country

Search for your future new city online and make sure you find all the places and activities you are interested in. This way, you will be prepared to have fun in the first few months once you move. If you have your time filled with fun activities, you will feel much more secure and happy. Getting friends is much easier this way as well.

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Make sure you search for all the fun activities in your new city

Keep in touch with home

It’s really important to stay in touch with your family once you move. It doesn’t matter if you are just taking a gap year in another country or you want to move for good, make sure you know exactly how important staying in touch is. Your friends and family will be there for you in good and in bad times, and you will have support every step of your way.

Moving to a new country for a gap year or to live in for good is going to be an adventure of your life. You are going to love every day a little more. That is just why you have to be prepared as much as you can. If you know what is waiting for you and if you are familiar with the language, culture, and surroundings, you are going to have no trouble at all. Visiting your new country before the moving day is the most important advice when it comes to the guide to preparing for living in a different country.

Photos of the Week 3/6

In honor of Winterline’s first program in Africa, we’ve decided to focus this week’s blog exclusively on the incredible photos from Rwanda! Squad 3 has been having an incredible time exploring the town and bonding with the locals through their homestays. This week, the students used some of their free time to go on safari and see beautiful animals up close and personal. See for yourself!

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Safari selfie
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Squad 3 on safari
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Giraffe in Rwanda
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Safari ready
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Elephant close up
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Zebras, too | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Leon and James on safari
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Whit and James on safari
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A cow full of love | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Rwandan homestay | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Emma with her host family and FA Hillevi
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Walks in Rwanda
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Emma and FA Hillevi with host mother
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Ashley and Lauren with Rwandan hosts
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Lauren hanging out with the kids
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Bonding with the kids
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Lauren in Rwanda
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Carter in Rwanda | Photo By: Micah Zimmerman
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Strolling through town
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James and Micah preparing dinner
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Streets of Rwanda | Photo By: Leon Louw
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City views | Photo By: Leon Louw
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Learning from the locals | Photo By: Emmie Daswani
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Sherly, Alexandra, and Emmie in Rwanda
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Making friends | Photo By: Emmie Daswani
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FA James with Carter, Eli, and their desserts
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Group photo!
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A local dressmaker at the market | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Dinner duty | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Time for washing | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Homestay in Rwanda | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Alexandra with her weaving

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. Want the experience, but unable to dedicate a whole year for travel? Then join our Latin America semester this fall! It’s never too early to start thinking about your future.

Location Spotlight: Bangkok, Thailand

One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster”. This opening line from Murray Head’s hit song One Night in Bangkok is the perfect description of the capital city of the beautiful first country of trimester 2, Bangkok, Thailand. During your stay in this massive city of over eight million citizens, your list of activities will range from exploring shrines and temples, to working out in the outdoor gym at the beautiful Lumpini park, to immersing yourself in the shopping district of Ratchaprasong, and so much more. There truly is an activity for everyone, and throughout our stay I was continuously in awe of my surroundings, and excited to see more every day!

Our activities in Bangkok began with a tour of the city with the wonderful tour guide company Bangkok Vanguards. During this tour, the squad was split into groups of three or four, each with a guide of their own, and taken to various locations in the city to complete a scavenger hunt. During this scavenger hunt, we went to places such as Wat Saket, or the Golden Mountain, as it is also known, a beautiful mountain temple renovated by King Rama 1 of Thailand. This temple had a vast view of the city in every direction, and was filled with many different buddha statues, with bells at the peak to ring for good fortune while praying.

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Exploring the temples | Photo By: Micah Zimmerman

Following the Golden Mountain, the tour took us to Chinatown, a bustling district reflective of Chinese culture in Bangkok. Very crowded and dense with many activities and sights to see, it was nothing like the Chinatowns of America; it felt much more authentic and interesting to explore. And with authentic Chinese and Thai street food on every corner, you will never go hungry. Other areas included Ratchaprasong, a massive shopping district that is home to six beautiful shrines of various gods in the Hindu religion, as well as large shopping malls and hotels. This area of the city felt very American in a way, while still managing to capture the feel of Bangkok, the heart of Thailand.

As far as entertainment goes, there is much to see and do in Bangkok. From dense night markets, to exploration, to park visits, you will never be bored during your stay here. On one of our first nights here, we enjoyed a Muay Thai (or Thai boxing) fight, where there was never a dull moment.

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Our students got to learn Muay Thai too!

It is no lie that Bangkok is host to a number of spectacular temples. One of these temples is Wat Pho, one of the oldest temples in Bangkok, which happened to be directly in front of the hotel we stayed at during our time in Bangkok. This temple is home to the Reclining Buddha, a whopping 46 meter (150 foot) long depiction of the Buddha laying down during his final stages of life. This temple is not only home to important Buddhist history, it is also architecturally beautiful; one of the most amazing human creations I have ever seen with my own eyes.

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Josh and Jacob with Field Advisors Jeff and Moriah

Bangkok is one of the greatest cities I have ever had the pleasure of traveling to in my entire life. I would consider it a must see for anybody that happens to catch the travel bug, and thankfully, Winterline was able to provide this for their students!

Photos of the Week 2/28

Happy Friday! This week, Squad 1 is off the grid trekking the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India. Before taking off on this adventure, the students got a course in disaster medicine from the Hanifl Centre. Last week, Squad 2 went through this course, so we’re excited to share photos from their experience. Check out the gorgeous mountain views and examples of life-saving techniques!

Meanwhile, we’re thrilled that, for the first time ever, our students are in Rwanda! Squad 3 is onto the Africa portion of their gap year; after Rwanda, they’re headed to South Africa. For now, the students are living in homestays and exploring the culture of Kigali through artisan skills like cooking and baking, dance, and farming. Stay tuned to keep up with their adventures!

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Zoe, Alyssa, and Lauren in Bangkok
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A biker in India | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Squad 3 boys playing soccer in Rwanda | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Rwandan village | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Views in Rwanda | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Views in Rwanda | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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Rwanda at dusk | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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Sightseeing in Rwanda | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Bikers in Rwanda | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Street views in Rwanda | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Pablo and Eli at the Taj Mahal | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Jared, Justin, Liam and Veronica at the Old Delhi Food Walk | Photo By: Devin Duffy
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Howling monkey | Photo By: Lucas Massolo
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Liam at the Taj Mahal
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Lauren with her marble inlay project | Photo By: Devin Duffy
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Lauren with her decorated cake | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Justin at the Taj Mahal | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Jason, Lauren, and Zoe | Photo By: Jessica Castellan
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Liam, Alyssa, Jessica, and Jason showing off their boots | Photo By: Jessica Castellan
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Views from the Indian Himalaya | Photo By: Jessica Castellan
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Himalayan views | Photo By: Alyssa Copham
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Alyssa in the Himalaya
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Himalayan views | Photo By: Alyssa Copham
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Squad 3 baking dessert | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Disaster medicine training at the Hanifl Centre
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Disaster medicine training at the Hanifl Centre
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Disaster medicine training at the Hanifl Centre
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Disaster medicine training at the Hanifl Centre
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Desserts made by Squad 3 | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Alexandra decorating a cake
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Leon, Eli, Alexandra and James ready to bake
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Bollywood dance class | Photo By: Devin Duffy
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Bollywood dance class | Photo By: Devin Duffy
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Bangkok at night | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. Want the experience, but unable to dedicate a whole year for travel? Then join our Latin America semester this fall! It’s never too early to start thinking about your future.

10 Ways to Keep Learning on Your Gap Year

Taking some time for yourself before you go from one education institution to another can be a truly life-changing experience. This can be the time when you do what you enjoy, meet new people, and get a whole new perspective of the world.

What troubles most gap year students is whether they will lose the habit of learning. To prevent that from happening and keep your brain absorbing new information, you should keep learning even on your gap year.

However, that doesn’t mean that you have to be locked in your room for hours each day. It just means that you should find ways that will provide you with learning experience on your gap year. Here are some tips that can help you out.

1. Use learning apps

There are so many learning apps that are both educational and engaging. Since most of us are already glued to our phones, why not use this to our advantage? Think about a skill that you would want to work on. Do you want to learn a new language? Or do you want to improve your writing skills? Whatever it is, there is an app for it. Once you decide on what you want to focus on, research the best apps for that purpose and pick your favorite. This learning habit won’t be demanding because educational apps are usually designed to be entertaining as well.

2. Read at least one book a week

Books are an endless source of information that can take you into a parallel universe. Give yourself the assignment to read a new book every week. If one book a week isn’t suitable for you, set your own time limit. It is important that you give yourself a certain amount of time per book because that will motivate you to read as often as you can. For some suggestions, check out this list of popular gap year books on GoodReads.

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Hanging with Friends

3. Get outside of your comfort zone

A growing experience truly starts when you get outside of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself to learn something completely new. You can learn how to play the guitar, go to a cooking class, or try a new sport. Even if it’s unlike you and it turns out that you aren’t cut out for it, the fact that you were daring enough to give it a try will be satisfactory.winterline, cooking, gap year

4. Volunteer or attend events

Attending events can provide you with interactive learning. Google and social media can get you all the information you need about upcoming events near you. Go to an industry-specific mixer, hear out a guest lecturer, attend a conference, or go to a music festival. If you want to take it one step further, you can apply to volunteer at some events. “Volunteering was my main occupation during the gap year. Whenever I saw an interesting event near me, I applied to volunteer. That was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. Aside from many practical skills that I’ve adopted, I learned how to be better at organization and managing,” shares Kristin Savage, a freelance writer at Studicus and FlyWriting.

 5. Find an internship

The best way to prepare yourself for your future dream job is to do real-life work. This year can be your chance to gather some valuable work experience. What employers value most is practical knowledge and that is what you can get with an internship. Internships can also be a great opportunity to test out your dreams. Maybe you have plans to work in a specific niche but you’ll never know whether that job really agrees with you until you give it a try.internships abroad winterline

6. Travel

If traveling wasn’t already on your gap year to-do list, add it right now. You don’t need to go backpacking through Europe or visit exotic countries around the world but you should organize a trip to a new place. Traveling broadens your mindset and helps you learn about that country, city, or place through experience. This can be a win-win situation. Visit some places that are on your bucket list and learn everything you can about it along the way.

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View from the plane as we landed in Delhi, India. You can see the pollution!

7. Combine a job and a hobby

Do you like to ski? Or dive? Or maybe you are proficient in a second language? Perfect your current hobbies by finding a job that will revolve around it. For example, if you are a talented painter you can hold lessons (in person or online). In this way, you’ll further mold your talent and earn some money. “During high school, I was really good in Spanish and I even learned it in my free time. I used my gap year to work as an au pair in Spain. It helped me to work on my speaking skills and I met some great friends who I’m still in touch to this day,” says Estelle Leotard, a blogger and translator at IsAccurate about her gap year experience.

8. Take online courses

With the variety of online courses, it would be a shame not to take advantage of it. Whether you want to perfect your current knowledge, prepare yourself for college, or learn something completely new, online courses got you covered. There are some popular and reliable platforms such as Udemy or Skillshare that can offer you whatever you need. The best part is that you can adjust the learning schedule based on your preferences and plans.

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9. Become a part of the program

Connecting with like-minded people will give you the motivation to embrace learning new skills. Not to mention that it will make the whole process easier. What will help you to combine fun and learning is if you become a part of a gap year program. Programs such as Winterline can teach you anything you want to know from outdoor skills over leadership skills to technical skills. The program focuses on teaching you practical and applicable skills while you are having fun with other students.winterline, gap year, group

10. Keep a learning journal

Make your memories and learning experiences permanent by writing a learning journal. No matter what type of information you have attained, write it down. It can be a new skill you have learned, or interesting facts about a certain city or country, or just a new perspective on the world that someone pointed out. By writing it all down, you can always look back and remind yourself what type of value your gap year has provided you with.

A gap year can be filled with memorable and valuable experiences that can transform your life. The choices are many, but it is up to you to decide which direction you want to take. The most important part is that you listen to your needs and wishes and adapt your learning accordingly. Don’t forget that fun should be essential in your learning experience on your gap year.winterline, gap year, journal

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Marques Coleman is a blog writer at TrustMyPaper and GrabMyEssay. He specializes in marketing and marketing and copywriting. Moreover, he is an avid traveler and always tries to learn something new.

Quotebook: Time Spent in Panama

Did you enjoy our time in a big city? Why?

“Yes! I love the freedom of choice that we had with food and entertainment. And of course, I enjoyed every single bite of Asian food that I was finally able to eat.” -Sherly

“Definitely, the city is incredible in that it’s an international hub and it combines fun urbanlife with Latin American culture” -Casey

“It was satisfying being in an urban environment after being in two remote locations in Costa Rica, just enjoying the city life and the different culture” -Pablo  

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The extraordinary skyline of Panama City accompanied by a friendly street cat. Photo by Alexandra Johansson

What was the most meaningful experience you had in Panama City?

“The combination of learning business in the Business Hub of Central America, contributing to the Miraflores neighborhood through urban innovation work, and experiencing the beautiful nature with the Parara Puru Indigenous community; the diversity of our experiences is what made it a meaningful trip in Panama.”-Sherly

“While looking for my friend I needed wifi and these two guys that owned a bar helped me out and bought me a beer, we ended up talking for almost two hours and really forming a connection” -Casey

“San Blas. Getting to see San Blas, it’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit, I enjoyed the beauty of the islands and getting a chance to really relax with my best friends” -Pablo

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Me and my friend from high school, James, who joined Winterline alongside me, standing on top of the building where we participated in Business Bootcamp.

What did you learn during our time there?

“Happiness truly comes in different forms; the urban innovation team found it by contributing to the community, the indigenous people found it by living in nature, and me, spending my birthday on the beautiful islands of San Blas.” -Sherly

“I learned different skills, the first being how to be an entrepreneur, making our own start up company. After that, I learned about the concept of urban innovation and how much of an impact it has on a community. And finally, how beautiful this country really is.” -Pablo

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Me and my friend/fellow Winterline student, Lucas, with the indigenous people of Parara Puru.

Would you ever like to go back?

“YES!” – Sherly

“Without a doubt” – Pablo

“Absolutely” – Casey

Photos of the Week 2/14

Our three squads are spread across three different countries this week, and they’re each practicing different skills. Squad 1 is nearing the end of their time in Cambodia, where they took a class in bicycle maintenance before riding to Angkor Wat. They also took a class at Phare Circus School, then split up to pursue advanced skills. Our students had a choice between a 5-day meditation retreat, bicycle touring in Battambang, or getting an Advanced Open Water SCUBA certified off the coast.

Meanwhile, Squad 2 is in Nan, Thailand, where they learned the sport of Muay Thai boxing! The students also got to practice weaving and pottery, and spent some free time exploring the beauty of the countryside. Finally, Squad 3 is in Northern India, where they’ll be trekking the foothills of the Himalayas. Before taking off on this adventure, the students are getting a course in disaster medicine from the Hanifl Centre. It sure has been a busy and exciting week: see for yourself through the eyes (and photos) of our students!

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Zoe learning bike maintenance | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Streets of Thailand | Photo By: Alyssa Copham
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Jason and Alyssa practice Muay Thai
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City views in Bangkok | Photo By: Alyssa Copham
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Temple ruins | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Liam learns to weave
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Lauren weaves textiles | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Justin and Liam learn bike maintenance
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Moriah, Josh, and Jacob go for a ride on a bamboo train
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Jared learns bike maintenance | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Jacob and Moriah learn Khmer dancing
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Jackson weaves textiles | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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James and Leon at the Taj Mahal
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Taking in views of India | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Disaster medicine training at the Hanifl Centre
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Disaster medicine training at the Hanifl Centre
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Disaster medicine training at the Hanifl Centre
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Emma in India
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Lauren and Lucas at Ecole Paul Dubrule
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Cooking at Ecole Paul Dubrule
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Squad 2 at Ecole Paul Dubrule
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Squad 1 at Angkor Wat
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Josh, James, and Peyton at Angkor Wat
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Josh and Moriah at the temples
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Squad 1 at Phare Circus School
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Josh and Jacob at Phare Circus School
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Weaving in Thailand | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Alyssa and Veronica at Muay Thai practice
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Squad 2 at Muay Thai practice
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Squad 2 biking in Bangkok

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. Want the experience, but unable to dedicate a whole year for travel? Then join our Latin America semester this fall! It’s never too early to start thinking about your future.

Business Boot Camp

Young business entrepreneurs of the future, rejoice, for Winterline will not deprive you of the knowledge and experience you seek. During your time staying in Panama City, you will participate in a week-long business course offered by a host of amazing and intelligent teachers. This portion of the trip was entitled “Business Boot Camp” and was perhaps the most practical and applicable of all the skills learned in trimester 1.

The course consisted of four days of exploring the inner workings of the economy, of how businesses utilize markets to their advantages, how businesses grow. We discussed  supply and demand, we learned how to read annual monetary projections, we picked apart why some businesses fail and why others succeed, and we compared and contrasted the perks of leading large companies such as Amazon and Netflix.

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Christian explaining why Netflix is successful (Credit: Lydia Miller)

After four days of learning business basics, we had three days of small group business creation; teams of three to four were tasked with thinking of a business idea, and then fleshing it out to the point of pitching it to a panel of judges, posing as investors, in order to see which team had the best and most feasible overall plan. Originally expecting this not to be too difficult having just spent many hours learning exactly how other businesses complete this very same process, we soon learned this would be no easy task. Not only is an original idea in and of itself difficult to come up with, but including monetary concerns (incomes and expenditures), creative differences within groups, and finding the best way to present these ideas in order to gain funding was harder to manage than it initially seemed.

I think by the end of the week, we all gained a greater appreciation for many big businesses out there when evaluating their success. However, this task was also very fun. The competition aspect gave everyone a motivation to overcome the issues we encountered, and hearing the visions of each of our companies from group to group, and even within our groups themselves, was interesting and eye opening. The time to present came in a flash, the hours passed by like minutes, having worked so hard and so intently. While everyone was nervous due to the professional nature and atmosphere of the presentation, the judges claimed time and again how impressed they were by the zeal and hard work of each student, despite us only having one week of experience prior.

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From left to right: Darshil, Liam, Peyton and Zoe presenting their thrifting company (Credit: Lydia Miller)

To sum up business boot camp in one word, I would choose “rewarding.” The work was hard, but this final presentation made up for all the hangups along the way. Through these business pitches we gained presentation skills and came to understand each other better, as well as how to trust each other better in a professional setting. We learned about delegating roles that were suited to each of our individual strengths, and discovered new strengths we didn’t previously know we had. I have never seriously considered a business career before, but business boot camp in Panama City has definitely gotten me thinking.

Photos of the Week 2/7

This week, our students have been taking in the jaw-dropping beauty of the Taj Mahal and the grandiosity of the Angkor Wat temple complex. But they’ve been learning, too: creating marble inlays and vision boards, practicing advanced scuba diving, and cooking up a storm. The diversity of skills and culture across Southeast Asia and India are sure to be lifechanging for our students – see for yourself!

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Vision boards created by our students
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Glorious Taj Mahal | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Squad 3 at the Taj Mahal
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Lauren at the Taj Mahal
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Justin in Cambodia
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Carter and Micah at the Taj Mahal
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Indian flag
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Carter and Eli at the Taj Mahal
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Pablo and Eli at the Taj Mahal | Photo By: Micah Zimmerman
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Lauren in India
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Sleepy kitty | Photo By: Leon Louw
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Advanced scuba | Photo By: Alyssa Copham
Winterline, gap year, India
Swinging in the sun
Winterline, gap year, India
Chef’s selfie | Photo By: Justin Newman
Winterline, gap year, India
Justin cooking
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Squad 2 boys
Winterline, gap year, India
Jason getting ready for scuba
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Squad 2 in the kitchen
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Cooking lessons
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Jared and Liam prepping ingredients
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Jackson and Zoe
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Cambodian dive shop | Photo By: Jason Thomas
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Adventures at Angkor Wat
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Jason on the road
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Temple hideouts
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Angkor Wat | Photo By: Jason Thomas
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Nighttime views in Cambodia | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Jackson at a waterfall
Winterline, gap year, Cambodia
Golden Buddhas | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
Winterline, gap year, Cambodia
Angkor Wat | Photo By: Jason Thomas
Winterline, gap year, India
Cambodian beaches | Photo By: Jason Thomas
Winterline, gap year, Cambodia
Lauren swinging

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. Want the experience, but unable to dedicate a whole year for travel? Then join our Latin America semester this fall! It’s never too early to start thinking about your future.

February is Gap Year Exploration Month!

Are you ready to #explorethegapyear? Every year, more and more students are considering and taking gap years before entering into college or their career path. We believe that the life experience, skills learning, and cultural growth students explore during this time set them up for a successful adulthood ahead. While we could talk about this every day, Gap Year Exploration Month was created to help students, parents, families, and counselors, discover the incredible opportunities that lie within a gap year.

So why should you consider a gap year? How do you know if a gap year is right for you? How do you know which gap year is right for you? These are all great questions!

The first step is recognizing that there’s no one type of student who takes a gap year. There are plenty of misconceptions about gap year students: that they have to be rich, that they weren’t good students, that they’ll fall behind, that it’ll be a waste of time. We know that none of this is true, and the data backs us up.

gap year exploration month, winterline, gap yearThe next step is to find the right program for you. To ensure that every student ends up in the program that fits them, you have to explore your gap year options. We believe wholeheartedly in our program, and so do many others – Winterline was recognized as one of the Top Rated Gap Year Programs of 2019! But Winterline is just one of the many gap year opportunities available. You can use #explorethegapyear on social media to find information, and find program reviews on sites like GoAbroad and GoOverseas.

Winterline Gap Year Students
Winterline Gap Year Students

Additionally, this month is the result of a partnership between the Gap Year Association and Streamable U. Together, they’re bringing you a month full of educational and entertaining livestreams hosted by a variety of gap year programs and experts.

Whether you’re looking for general gap year information or specific details about Winterline, you’ll want to check out these events.

  • February 6th: Through a partnership with Streamable U, our Director of Outreach and Recruitment, Erica, is giving an introductory info session on Winterline
  • February 10th: Get a taste for Winterline on our Instagram Live with a current student in the field
  • February 18th: Learn about the benefits of a gap year and Winterline’s gap, semester, and summer programs in an info session hosted by our Admissions Advisor Nora
  • February 24th: Hear from an expert on Instagram Live: former Field Advisor and current Director of Outreach and Recruitment, Erica

    Caroline and Erica celebrating Holi at MUWCI | Photo By: Dini Vermaat
    Caroline and Erica celebrating Holi at MUWCI | Photo By: Dini Vermaat

And of course, there’s still dates on the USA Gap Year Fairs circuit! Join us in one of the following cities to learn about a variety of gap year programs, including our own.

As always, we love talking to students and families, so reach out with any questions or schedule a home visit with our Director of Outreach and Recruitment. If you’re ready to commit, you can apply for a Winterline gap, semester, or summer program today.

7 Tips for Starting Your Own Travel Blog

A good travel blogger transports you to the places they are seeing and experiencing; they make you want to go there yourself. So how do you do that?

1. Use an easy-to-use blogging platform.

Although there are a plethora of blogging platforms out there, these are three of the most recommended options available: WordPress.org, Wix.com, and Blogger.com. All three offer simple templates and make it easy to post content and pictures even while using your mobile device. They are perfect for any blogging novice to get set up and running immediately.winterline, gap year, travel blog

2. Use descriptive words to paint a picture.

Composing engaging entries remain the cornerstone of good travel blogs, according to Cameron Wears, of the husband-and-wife blogging team Traveling Canucks (travelingcanucks.com). “The most important thing is to entertain your readers and always share something informative, but interesting. The Internet is overloaded with information and people have enough on their daily agenda, so your posts should be fun,” he says.

Don’t hesitate to add some passion and emotion, along with your humor. Think of a good movie: if you laugh and cry, it’s usually one you want to watch again or share with your family and friends.

3. Use picturesque and inspirational photos and videos.

The saying, “pictures paint a thousand words” is so, so, so true. Words paint the picture, but photos bring the experience to life. Images play such a key role in creating a successful travel blog, but they have to be the right pictures.

Keep in mind that your “visual content” should be more than just typical travel photos of buildings, scenery, or people posing for the camera in a group. Take the time to compose a photo library that includes candids, observations, people currently living in their environment.

Capture the emotions, excitement, and passion of not only the people surrounding you, but also of yourself. This helps bring personality to your blog. Adding quality videos are great, too.

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Silhouettes in India | Photo By: Abby Dulin

4. Make it personal.

You will come into contact with people, occurrences and images that aren’t always positive and uplifting. You should write about your own reactions to the places you visit and the people you meet. People respond to honest posts; posts that divulge your feelings about the places you visit. There are countless travel blogs out there, and what sets them apart are the individual experiences you have.

5. Interview people you have met.

One of the best ways to get to know a new place is by talking to the people who live there. Hear their stories, take their recommendations, learn what they can tell you that a tourist brochure can’t. And then, pass on their wisdom to your readers.

winterline, gap year, travel blog
Zoe greets a Cambodian monk | Photo By: Devin Duffy

6. Post regularly and share on social media.

It’s not always enough to just post when you feel like it. You should try to keep a regular schedule to keep your reader’s interest. And always share your posts on social media to expand readership. If you don’t think you have time to blog, you can always just share extra pictures. More content means more connections. Always strive to grow your audience and drive traffic to your blog.

7. Post to promote the program.

If you love your program, you’ll want other potential students and parents to participate in and to see the importance of what you’re doing. So tell them about it! Write about what your program is like: the schedule, the locations, the activities, the instructors. Share what you learned, what you enjoyed, and what you wish you would have known before embarking on your adventure.

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Winterline in Colorado | Photo By: Pablo Gonzales-Pacheco

Being a travel blogger is one of the best ways to chronicle and share your study abroad trip or gap year experience with your friends and family with the added bonus of gaining blogging experience and continued readership. So, get typing!

Interested in blogging about your journey, but not ready to create a whole site? We’re always looking for guest bloggers! Submit your proposal to allison@winterline.com for a chance to be featured on the Winterline blog.

Photos of the Week 1/31

In the second week of Trimester 2, our students have settled back into their squads, new countries, and travel, meaning they’re ready for even more skills and adventure! Just like last week, our students cooked some delicious meals at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School in Bangkok and Ecole Paul Dubrule in Siem Reap. Other skills this week included ceramics, Muay Thai boxing, bicycle maintenance, and cultural exploration of the temples and city streets. Take a look at some of our photos from the past week!

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Zoe greeting a Cambodian monk | Photo By: Devin Duffy
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Whit at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Whit and his finished meal at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Veronica and Jason at Ecole Paul Dubrule | Photo By: Devin Duffy
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Ceramics in Nan | Photo By: Moriah Otto
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Market views | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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Classic mirror selfie | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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James and Pablo at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Nik exploring Cambodian temples
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Pablo in Bangkok
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Josh, Andrea, Zarah, Moriah, and Jack with their ceramics in Nan
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Thai temple | Photo By: Emmie Daswani
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Micah at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Liam exploring Cambodian ruins
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Leon at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Josh working on ceramics in Nan | Photo By: Moriah Otto
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Jackson, Lucas, Jason, and Christian on a tuktuk ride | Photo By: Devin Duffy
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Leon at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Lauren in Angkor Wat | Photo By: Devin Duffy
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James at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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James at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Eli at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Eli with his finished meal
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Casey at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Carter at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Lauren learning bike maintenance | Photo By: James Townsend
winterline, gap year, cambodia
Micah and Emma working on bicycle maintenance | Photo By: James Townsend
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Learning bicycle maintenance | Photo By: James Townsend
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The streets of Bangkok | Photo By: Emmie Daswani
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Sherly, Aimee, and Whit ready for Muay Thai | Photo By: James Townsend
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Squad 3 at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Thumbs up for authentic Thai food
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Casey at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School | Photo By: James Townsend
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Time to eat! | Photo By: Hillevi Johnson
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Squad 2 at Angkor Wat | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Exploring Angkor Wat | Photo By: Alyssa Copham
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Andrea working on ceramics in Nan | Photo By: Moriah Otto
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Veronica and Alyssa in Cambodia

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. Want the experience, but unable to dedicate a whole year for travel? Then join our Latin America semester this fall! It’s never too early to start thinking about your future.

Monteverde Host Family Interview

The Monteverde Cloud Forest of Costa Rica is home to the section of the gap year when students live in homestays. That is, independent living with a local family while exploring their culture and experiencing an apprenticeship in a particular skill during our trimester 1 ISPs. During my ten-day long homestay with a family of four, a happily married couple with both a son and a daughter, I decided to take the opportunity to interview them in order to better understand their role in our journey, as well as my own in theirs. The interview (originally in broken Spanish via Google Translate but translated and tweaked to better suit English) is as follows:winterline global gap year

Q: Why did you decide to start hosting travel abroad students?

A: Our family has actually been hosting students for almost 17 years. We have seen many types come and go, all participating in or working toward something new. It has always been a pleasure to meet people from new places as we don’t get to travel very much. It lets us learn more about the places they come from, and we enjoy teaching them about our home. We keep a photo album of all of the people we’ve hosted, and we enjoy adding to it.

At this point, we took a photo to add to the album and she showed me her past students.

Q: Have you ever had any problems with someone you’ve hosted?

A: Coming to a new place is a tough adjustment for many at first, especially when they don’t speak the language (this entire interview was conducted through Google Translate), so there are instances where we have had to ask our visitors to not to act a certain way so as to avoid trouble, however we are generally pretty open and accepting, and allow our visitors to be as independent as they please.

I can certainly vouch for this, staying with the family was a pleasure. They had very few rules and allowed me to do mostly anything I wanted. There was a lot of respect between us and it made for a very enjoyable stay.

winterline, gap year, monteverde, homestay
Homestay family

Q: How much do you know about Winterline and what we’re doing on our journey?

A: Very little, we were asked to provide a home for international students and that was about it. Of course, we said yes, but we would like to know more.

This made for good conversation; them not knowing too much allowed me to break the tension easily and tell them all about the amazing program Winterline has put together. They were very excited to learn more about a program they had never encountered.

Q: Would you ever hope for or allow your children to stay with a family abroad?

A: I think it would be a good opportunity, but I would never feel safe letting my children travel like that. I’m a mother first and foremost, always worrying. Maybe someday if the opportunity arises, we will talk about it.

My ISP during this time was learning to cook, so I asked this question on a whim:

Q: How would you like it if I cooked dinner one night?

A: Oh no, I don’t like anyone else to work in my kitchen. I appreciate the gesture, but let me take care of things like that.

She held true to this, always anticipating and accommodating every one of my needs without me even asking. A very lovely woman and mother to get to know, and I am grateful for everything she has done for me.

This interview was especially difficult to complete, as Google Translate is not a reliable means of communication in another language. It was enough to get the point across, but I feel as though myself and my host family missed the full scope of each other’s responses. The interview may have been more fleshed out had I spoken Spanish, or they English, but on the flipside I feel as though this was a very valuable outcome for myself as well as for future students who can now take these shortcomings into consideration. I’m glad it went the way it did, and learning about my host family brought us closer together and made my stay that much more enjoyable!

Photos of the Week 1/24

We’re so thrilled to have our students back in the field for Trimester 2! Our squads are in Southeast Asia, spread out among Siem Reap, Cambodia; Nan, Thailand, and Bangkok, Thailand. They’re jumping back in: exploring the colorful streets, admiring the temples and religious monuments, conversing with the locals, and tasting the unique flavors.

In fact, this has been a food-focused week, with our students attending Bai Pai Thai Cooking School in Bangkok and Ecole Paul Dubrule in Siem Reap! Take a look to see the dishes they cooked, sites they’ve seen, and smiles they’ve had since landing in these incredible countries.

Looking for a refresher on Trimester 1? Check out our past Photos of the Week to remind yourself of their earlier adventures.

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Zarah at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
winterline, gap year, thailand
Emma and Whit at a Thai temple
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Josh and Jacob with their new field advisors, Jeff and Moriah
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Aimee, Lauren, Whit, and Emma in Thailand
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Beautiful sights in Thailand
winterline, gap year, thailand
Hannah in Thailand
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Jacob, Lydia, and Josh with their Thai tour guide
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Jacob and James are all thumbs-up for Thailand
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Temple details | Photo By: Hannah Wareham
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Carter learning ceramics in Thailand
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Visiting a school in Thailand | Photo By: Carter Tobin
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Squad 3 with Thai students
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Carter, Micah, Pablo, and Whit posing in Thailand
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Squad 2 visited Phare Circus in Cambodia | Photo By: Alyssa Copham
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Peyton cooking at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Peyton at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Alyssa and Veronica at Ecole Paul Dubrule in Cambodia
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Squad 2 made crème brûlée and brownies at Ecole Paul Dubrule | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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More delicious food | Photo By: Jason Thomas
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Squad photo at Ecole Paul Dubrule
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Jason cooking at Ecole Paul Dubrule
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Field Advisor Moriah at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Lydia at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Lauren exploring the streets of Thailand | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Lauren and Aimee gearing up to spar
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Lauren working on ceramics in Thailand
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Josh and his finished meal at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Josh at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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James at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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James, Jacob, and Jack in Thailand
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Jacob at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Jack at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Hannah at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Hannah and Zarah working hard at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Umbrella alley in Cambodia | Photo By: Alyssa Copham
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Andrea at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School
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Hannah admiring the beauty of Thailand’s temples
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Alyssa in Siem Reap
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Alyssa happy to be back traveling!

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. Want the experience, but unable to dedicate a whole year for travel? Then join our Latin America semester this fall! It’s never too early to start thinking about your future.

The Best Places to Travel for a History Lover

History buffs tend to have different trip plans since they direct their interest in cities and place who allow them to get to know more about the history of our kind. If you are a history lover who is ready to take on a new adventure here are the places you simply must visit.

Athens, Greece

winterline, gap year, history travel, athens, greece
Photo by Arthur Yeti on Unsplash

Those of you who are fascinated by Ancient Greeks, their customs, and great minds who are cited daily even in the 21st century, need to head to Athens.

The ancient citadel, Acropolis, is situated in this city. The site contains the remains of several ancient buildings, including the Parthenon. Parthenon is one of the iconic constructions, known to be dedicated to the goddess Athena.

For a complete historical overview of the country’s history, visit the War Museum.

In addition, you should head to The Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth. You can take a weekend trip from Athens to this spiritual Greek destination. 

The city of Athens is the birthplace of democracy and has great architectural and historic significance so there is no surprise that many history buffs put it on the top of their list.

The Giza Plateau, Egypt

winterline, gap year, history travel, giza, pyramids, egypt
Photo by José Ignacio Pompé on Unsplash

Anyone who loves history knows that this travel list wouldn’t be complete without Egypt. Especially if ancient history interests you the most.

In the Giza Plateau, you’ll find iconic monuments that symbolized Ancient Egypt. 

You simply can’t miss seeing one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that is the Great Pyramid of Giza. Built around 2580 BC to 2560 BC, it is the oldest and the tallest pyramid. Pyramids are ancient tombs where pharaohs were buried after their death and this one is the house of the pharaoh Khufu of the fourth dynasty.

While you are in the area, make sure that you also check out the Sphinx. You’ll be amazed by this statue of a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human,” advises a passionate traveler and a translator at TheWordPoint, Jonathan Willis. 

Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru

winterline, gap year, history travel, machu picchu, peru
Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Visiting Peru will take you back to the Inca Empire. The well-preserved ruins magically relive the city in the sky.

This city is built in the 15th century. It was the home of Emperor Pachacuti whose reign lasted 1438 to 1472. By the 1550s the city was deserted. That was around the time when the Spanish conquered modern-day Peru.

Machu Picchu is with every right a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The number of visitors is limited to 2,500 per day. That is why you should buy the ticket in advance to ensure that you’ll be one of the lucky visitors that enter the site.

Since you can’t find any information about the city on-site, head to Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón and find out all the details about why Incas choose that unusual location for their city, and how Machu Picchu was built.

Angkor, Cambodia

winterline, gap year, history travel, angkor, cambodia
Photo by allPhoto Bangkok on Unsplash

Angkor flourished from around the 9th to 15th centuries as the capital city of the Khmer Empire. When the Khmer moved their capital, all the spectacular buildings and temples were left behind.

It was discovered only after the 19th century and now it is a tourist destination where you can see the preserved historical relics.

When somebody mentions Angkor, the first thing that’ll probably come to your mind is Angkor Wat. This temple complex was built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II.

Another imposing monument is Angkor Thom, also a temple complex, but this one is built in the 13th century by King Jayavarman VII.

For some adventurous exploring, visit the Preah Kan maze of vaulted corridors, impressive carvings, and lichen-clad stonework.

Berlin, Germany

winterline, gap year, travel history, berlin, germany
Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

The Second World War was one of the determining moments in our history that set the course for the future. Visit the place which was the hub of this famous war and head to Berlin.

The city was founded in 1163 by Albert the Bear. It had a significant role in many historical events some of them being the Second World War and the Cold War where Berlin had a prominent influence on the modern-day world. 

When in Berlin, visit the famous Berlin wall which is now the place of artistic expressions, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the site of Hitler’s bunker, Checkpoint Charlie, the Reichstag Building, the Museum Island, and the Berlin’s most famous historic landmark – the Brandenburg Gate

Pay attention to the pre-war building while you’re strolling around the city and you’ll notice how the roofs are still damaged from falling bombs.

 

There is something about visiting a historic place. The atmosphere, the history, and the thoughts about everything that has happened there just take you back in time. Make the most out of your free spirit and let these amazing historic places you’ve read about come to life.


Erica Sunarjo is a content creator with more than five years of experience. Currently, Erica is a contributor at BestWritersOnline and is proud of her an uncanny ability to explain the most complex subject in simple terms. For more content, you can follow Erica on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Interested in contributing to the Winterline blog? We’d love to hear from you! Send an email to allison@winterline.com with your blog ideas and work samples.

New Student Spotlight: Andres Munoz

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


WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

Costa Rica

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 thanks to my sister, who took one herself in Senegal.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

I wanted to take some time off the books before going to college to find my passion and grow more as a person by traveling the world. 

winterline, gap year, andres munoz

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I’m really excited about learning how to interact with people from all over the world and their different cultures to understand and master the proper way to approach people and connect in the best way possible, attain a bigger perspective about life, and finally, and most importantly, how to live each day at its maximum.

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

I want to study political science with a minor in history. I’m very interested in the field of education as well. 

 

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

I’ve traveled a bunch to North America and some countries in Europe. My favorite trip ever was when I visited one of my best friends that lives in The Basque Country near Bilbao for a month. He lived with me for a year as an exchange student and as soon as he left, I went to visit him. I met his beautiful family and visited many different places that I could have never imagined ever visiting. I learned about the Basque culture and got the opportunity to do the last 13 stages of The Santiago Trail with the first stage starting on my 18th birthday. It was a fascinating experience.

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

I hope to gain lifelong friendships with the people I’ll be traveling with and meet during the trip. I want to deepen my perspective on the world and blend into new cultures.

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

I may seem like a person that doesn’t talk much and that I keep everything to myself but there is nothing that I enjoy more than a good conversation and meeting new people. I could also say I can be very funny sometimes.winterline, gap year, andres munoz

WHY WINTERLINE?

What I wanted from my gap year is to visit the most amount of places as possible and Winterline is the only program that allows that. As soon as I read the program description I stopped looking for others.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I’m a huge football (soccer) nerd and I have a collection of 40+ football jerseys. My favorite team is FC Barcelona and I was lucky enough to watch them play in their 100,000 people capacity stadium, which was completely full, against their all-time rivals in 2015. My dream job would be to become a football coach one day for a big team. winterline, gap year, andres munoz

Meet the Field Advisors: Hillevi Johnson

We’re so happy to welcome Hillevi back as a Field Advisor! You can read her original spotlight here, and read on to learn even more about Hillevi.

What made you decide to return as a Field Advisor?

Falling in love with so many different aspects of the Winterline experience made it very easy to return. I watched my previous students transform before my eyes as they leapt outside of their comfort zones, fostered deep connections with each other, and really evaluated who they are now and who they want to be in the future. To have had any kind of hand in that process felt really special to me, and I didn’t have to think twice about committing to another wonderful group.

Where are you most excited about returning to this year?

I previously worked with Trimester 1, so I am SO excited to be with students as they move through Trimesters 2 and 3. Since the African countries are a recent option within the Winterline gap year itinerary, I’m most excited to see how students respond to what they’ll see, learn, and experience in Rwanda and South Africa. winterline, field advisor, Hillevi Johnson

What’s your favorite part about working with the Winterline students?

The energy, hope for the future, and excitement of this age group is so fantastic. Students are often bursting at the seams with ideas, passions, and motivations. They inspire me on the daily and reinforce my core values. Winterline students are unique, brave, and willing to take a path less traveled in order to live deeply. That speaks volumes to me.

What’s your favorite skill to learn/teach on Winterline?

Getting SCUBA certified with students last year was an absolute treat, even though it really challenged me individually! As far as teaching, I really enjoy facilitating dialogues and activities that center on identity, intersecting identities, and personal values. Some really incredible conversation and bonding tends to happen during these, and I find them to be so powerful. Also, I know American Sign Language and love to teach signs when students are interested in learning! winterline, field advisor, Hillevi Johnson

What’s something new you learned last year as a Field Advisor that you’re most excited to use again this year?

This is a bit of an abstract answer, but I’m most excited to use my knowledge of the first Trimester and what my new student group has likely already seen and experienced together. Stepping in as a Trimester 2/3 Field Advisor is an exciting challenge because the group is already bonded and familiar with each other. I’m really excited to dive in with my squad in new countries and skills having the experience that I do with a Trimester 1 group.

Have you traveled anywhere new since you wrapped up your last Winterline gap year?

Yes! I spent three recent months working with American study abroad students in the Greek city of Thessaloniki. It was wonderful to get to know so many different corners of mainland Greece, especially nature locations that are lesser-known to international visitors. I also got to explore Sofia and Plovdiv, Bulgaria. winterline, field advisor, Hillevi Johnson

Tell us a new fun fact about yourself!

While living in Greece, I ran my first international half-marathon (third total)! Running is usually my go-to exercise during travel and it’s extremely meditative for me. winterline, field advisor, Hillevi Johnson

 

Meet the Field Advisors: Jessica Castellan

Where are you from originally?

Guatemala City, Guatemala

Why did you choose to become a field advisor?

I’ve been working in outdoor education and running travel programs the past few years. My love for travel and commitment to education and growth brought me to Winterline.winterline, gap year, jessica castellan

How did you begin teaching/traveling?

Travel has always been part of my family’s culture and running travel programs was one of those things where I was in the right place at the right time. I fell in love with it immediately.

What are you most excited for about Winterline?

To keep learning and to be able to mentor others to travel responsibly.

What’s the most important thing students and parents should know about you?

Safety comes above everything. As a solo female traveler, you learn to always be looking out for yourself. The world, as beautiful as it is, comes with risks, and I’ve been trained professionally and throughout my travels on how to take care of others and myself in the most diligent way.winterline, gap year, jessica castellan

What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen or done while traveling?

This is a tough one. I’ve had the opportunity to experience so much in every season and environment  around the globe from reindeer sledding in Norway, to getting lost in the Amazon in Peru, to spending a night sleeping under the stars in Thar Desert in India. I’m nothing but grateful for every single one of my travels, and for all the history and personal lessons I get to learn.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I’m a jazz, tap and ballet dancer! Dance and photography are my artistic ways to express myself.winterline, gap year, jessica castellan

New Student Spotlight: Blake Freeman

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


WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

Raleigh, North Carolina

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 introduced to the idea of a gap year by some of my friends in high school who decided to take one, and currently my sister is doing a gap year in the South Pacific.winterline, gap year, blake freeman

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

I chose to take a gap year because I was tired of the routine. School is great, but after being in school for almost all of my life, I realized I needed something different. I needed to see the world and be with friends while doing it.

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I am most excited to learn cooking and independent travel.winterline, gap year, blake freeman

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

In the future I would like to be a chef and then move into restaurant ownership.

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

I have traveled quite a bit in the past. My favorite trip I have taken was when I went to Cuba in 2017 & 2018. We got to work with the community while exploring Havana as well as some other cities throughout the north of the country. We got to see some amazing historic places as well as lots of natural beauty. winterline, gap year, blake freeman

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

Aside from friends and fun (which is implied), I expect to gain a new outlook on the world. I will get to learn how lots of different cultures live and hopefully gain some perspective. I also hope to gain some knowledge about myself from being in an environment that I have never experience.

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

I want my future peers to know that I look forward to an incredible year of traveling. Traveling is my absolute favorite thing to do and getting to do it with friends makes it that much better. I love trying new things and I’m pretty outgoing. Some of my favorite things are cooking, rafting, going to concerts, fishing, and watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. winterline, gap year, blake freeman

WHY WINTERLINE?

I chose Winterline because I felt like it was a program tailored just for me. Every aspect of it intrigued me and it got me truly excited for taking a year off of school.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

A fun fact about me is that I worked for a guy in the Fyre Festival documentary and I was somewhat of a local celebrity because of it. winterline, gap year, blake freeman

What to Expect from the Winterline Admissions Process

So you’ve decided to make the leap and take a gap year, you’ve researched some programs, stalked some Instagrams, and now it’s time to apply! The Winterline application process is very straightforward and you can complete it quickly if you set your mind to it. It’s less complicated and less competitive than applying for college, so don’t stress too much. If you’ve been going through that process, the Winterline application may be a welcome break, and will, of course, give you an amazing adventure to look forward to. winterline, gap year, admissions

Step 1

Your first step is to complete the online program application. This is just 4 short steps:

  1. Contact Info. Show us you’re interested, help us stay in touch throughout this process!
  2. A Short Essay Question: “What do you think might be the most difficult aspects of this program for you?” If you haven’t already, use this as an opportunity to reflect on the program you’re applying for! Read about it on our website. What stands out to you as particularly exciting? What stands out to you as an aspect of the program that will challenge you? Tell us about it!
  3. Guardian Info. It’s important that your support system is on board with your gap year. We want to get in touch with them to introduce ourselves and answer their questions about safety and what exactly you’ll learn on your Winterline program. 
  4. Personal Info and References. Just a little more information we’re looking for to round out your application, including your nationality, high school graduation year, and any additional info you’d like to share with us.Winterline Global Entrepreneurship and Business Programs

The application shouldn’t take you more than an hour or so to complete. The part that will take the most time is the short essay question. It’s smooth sailing from there! At the end of the application, please submit your $50 application fee. This will allow us to process your application and ultimately send out your acceptance decision. 

Step 2

If you’re applying for a summer program, you’re done! The Admissions Committee will review your application to make an acceptance decision. 

If you’re applying to a semester program or our signature 9-month Global Skills Program, next up for you is an interview with a member of our Admissions Team. Keep an eye on your email inbox after you submit your online program application; we’ll email you with instructions to get the interview scheduled. Interviews last about an hour and are a chance for us to get to know you better. Typically, interviews are conducted using a video calling program called Zoom, but if you live close to one of our interviewers, we can set up something in person!winterline, gap year, admissions

Don’t stress about your interview; it’s relatively informal. You’ll chat with your interviewer about why you’re interested in Winterline, what you hope to get out of the program, and how you’ll face some of the challenges the program presents. Our interviewers hold a wide variety of roles in Winterline. Whether you chat with our Director of Outreach, our Director of Student Services, our Director of Programs, or another staff member, your interviewer will have a unique perspective about all that Winterline has to offer. Many of our interviewers are even former Field Advisors! This is a great opportunity to ask any lingering questions you have about the program. 

Step 3 (optional)

If you’d like to apply for financial aid or scholarships, now is the time to do so. We recommend getting these submitted within a day or two of your interview. The Scholarship Committee meets regularly to review aid applications, so getting those submitted will ensure that your aid offer is included in your acceptance materials. You are welcome to apply for both our financial aid and our work-study scholarships. winterline, gap year, admissions

Work-study scholarships are photography, videography, journalism, photojournalism, and social media scholarships that give students the opportunity to work with a staff mentor to develop those skills while helping to contribute to our blog and social media, all in exchange for a program discount. If you indicate in your initial program application that you are concerned about the cost of the program, the aid applications will be emailed to you upon submission.

Step 4

We have rolling admissions for both our program and aid applications. Once you have completed the steps above, the Admissions Committee will review your materials to make an admissions decision. Decisions are typically sent out within a week of your interview. Be sure to communicate with us during this time! Do you have questions about your aid package? Payment plan? How to pay using your 529 funds? Lingering questions about the program itself? Just ask! Now is the time to get answers, and we want to do everything we can to help you feel confident in your decision to travel with us. When you reach that decision, send in your $5,000 deposit to reserve your spot in the program, send in your signed enrollment contract, and keep an eye on your email for an introduction to our Director of Student Services, who will guide you through the onboarding process. The adventure begins! 

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New Student Spotlight: Max Johnson

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


WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

Tacoma, Washington

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 parents had introduced the idea to me when my sister was headed off to college and I was a sophomore in high school. My sister had not taken a gap year but parents have highly recommended it.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

I have a general idea as to what I want for a career path. I’ve been really interested in going into engineering, but I’ve seen so many different possibilities that I haven’t gotten the chance to look at. The extra year will be great for such!

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

While we won’t be doing it for too long, it probably has to be the advanced technical/safe driving which will be taking place at BMW’s performance school. While I don’t fully know how I feel about engineering, I definitely know how much I love to drive!

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

Not really. I do have plans for after high school and all the way up to college, but it just kind of drops off at that point. I really value the idea of having a job that I love going to every day, even if the paycheck isn’t the best.

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

I have! I’ve been out of the country several times, but my favorites have always been the ones where I get to settle down and know the place I am visiting. During my Sophomore year, I took a trip to Scotland for 2 weeks, and it was sublime! It lacked the color of a lot of the color that other places have, but it made the hidden gems in Scotland all the more interesting!

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

I hope to gain a lot of additional knowledge on the possible career paths I could go down. There may be an opportunity waiting for me that I’ll love once I learn about it on the trip!

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

I’m a little shy while I’m getting to know everyone, but once I do, I’m very adventurous and an awesome travel buddy.

WHY WINTERLINE?

I can’t put it into words. I’m a firm believer in matching wavelengths, and Winterline just seems to match mine!

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I have been building a kit airplane with other high-schoolers for the past year and a half! Also, I have taken more goofy photos of myself than legitimately serious ones. Ever.

 

The Monteverde ISP Experience

Each student in Winterline completes two ISPs, also known as an Independent Study Projects, during their gap year. These are apprenticeships in which the participant learns a variety of skills, doing things like coffee farming to shadowing a local government. Our first trimester offered ISPs in the beautiful little tourist town of Monteverde located in the Puntarenas Province of Costa Rica. Definitely a highlight of the first trimester, myself and the other students of Squad 1 all loved our ISPs. Here are a few of the things we learned throughout our time spent in the Monteverde cloud forest.

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Monteverde Cloud Forest | Photo By: Whitfield Smith

My personal ISP was titled “Cooking Costa Rican Food”. Initially, I wasn’t sure what to expect as this had not been my first choice for ISP, but due to overlapping desires in the squad, this was the one I was given. And I can safely say I absolutely loved every second of it. Every morning for a week, I woke up and visited my teacher Karen’s house, where she taught me the recipes of local Costa Rican cuisine. Karen was a regular member of the local community, not some intimidating 5 star chef. I have never cooked anything before in my life, but Karen was such a wonderful teacher that every meal came out more delicious than I ever could have expected. And luckily so, because unlike the other students doing their ISP, I was cooking my own lunch rather than bringing one each day. Whether it was ceviche (raw fish cured in citrus juices), picadillo with tortillas (ground beef served similarly to a taco), or rice pudding for dessert, I enjoyed every meal and came away feeling more proud of myself and satisfied with the dish than I ever thought possible.

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Josh’s ceviche!
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Josh cooking picadillo

The real kicker? Karen couldn’t speak a word of English. I learned everything by watching and inferring certain things based on the way she gestured. I certainly picked up a bit of Spanish after this ISP, though only words that can apply in the kitchen. At least now I can read Spanish menus in restaurants a bit better. This ISP taught me so much about traditional dishes of Costa Rica, of cooking in general, some Spanish, and how to interact with a language barrier. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone, especially since as I said earlier, it wasn’t even my first choice and I couldn’t have had a better time with it.

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Josh and his teacher Karen

My squadmate, Jacob Rona, did the ISP known as “Reusing and Recycling Materials”. This title, while a bit unclear on what the ISP will actually consist of, certainly sounded interesting on paper, as we have been learning all about sustainability throughout trimester 1, and recycling is a huge part of sustainable living. This apprenticeship turned out to be one of my personal favorites as I would visit Jacob after cooking my lunch and I got to see him in action. It may have been the happiest I have seen him on this trip, and he’s the type of guy who is always smiling. During his ISP, he welded scrap metals and other materials together to create useable appliances such as candle and wine holders or small “toy” cars. His mentor, Memo, also spoke no English, but was a very energetic guy and had a certain love for the western genre, so everything they made together was cowboy themed. It looked like a lot of fun and I was very impressed with all the pieces he and Jacob made together and how practical everything they made was. I know that Jacob would recommend this one as well, he loved it so much that he had his pieces shipped home separately from him to gift to his family.

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Jacob showing off his welding tools
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Jacob’s wine bottle holder

Other Squad 1 ISPs included: coffee farming, bird art installations, photography, identifying edible plants, painting, mindfulness, intensive Spanish, baking, and sustainable farming. I never heard a single complaint about any of these apprenticeships, and I can easily say that overall, Monteverde was absolutely a highlight for Squad 1’s first trimester.

Why to Choose a Semester in Latin America

Not everyone has 9 months to dedicate to a gap year, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to have an hands-on education and travel experience. That’s why we created a semester full of skills and and cultural exploration in Latin America! This program kicks off in September 2020, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about the future. Here are 10 reasons you should consider applying for to join us.

  1. Visit not one, not two, but three different countries! Many study abroad trips only offer you the experience to live and learn in one country. Maybe you can fit in visits to other countries along the way, but they’ll likely be shorter trips that you have to plan yourself. On Winterline’s Latin America semester program, your whole group will spend time in Panama, Costa Rica, and Peru. No need to choose just one!

    winterline, gap year, latin america
    Photo By: Whitfield Smith
  2. Spend minimal time in the classroom. While some of your skills require a classroom day or two, the majority of your time will be spent in the field, learning by doing. Practice Spanish by conversing with native speakers, learn about sustainability by building and farming on a rainforest ranch, hone your business skills alongside local entrepreneurs, and so much more.
  3. Immerse yourself in each community. Yes, you’ll be living and learning in a group, but you’ll be doing so alongside locals. Some programs house you in a dorm, where you live together and learn from instructors they’ve hired. We know that, in order for you to learn cross-cultural communication and actually experience each country, you need to be spending time with and learning from the people who actually live there.

    winterline, gap year, latin america
    Photo By: Veronica Allmon
  4. Head home with 3 certifications under your belt. That’s right, you’ll have plenty to add to your resume, including certifications in CPR, Wilderness First Aid, and scuba diving! If you’re interested in a career in outdoor education, this is a great head start. If not, this will be a fun and out-of-the-box dose of real world skill-building.

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    Certification cards (Credit: Sherly Budiman)
  5. Get a taste for rural and urban life. Embrace the outdoors through scuba diving, artisanal fishing, surfing, beach lifesaving, technical tree climbing, natural building, hiking…the list goes on! It’s time to make yourself comfortable in nature, and all of these skills will help you do so. But you’ll also spend time in the city working on leadership, presentations, designing for urban resilience, prototyping, project planning, and more.
  6. Learn from the experts. The people who teach you these skills know what they’re talking about. We partner with a variety of organizations to ensure that you’re learning from qualified individuals or groups in each field.winterline, gap year, latin america
  7. Find your path and your purpose. Not sure what you want to study in college or pursue as a career? Getting a taste of so many different skills will expose you to ideas you’ve never heard of or considered. You’ll learn what you like, what you’re good at, and what you’re passionate about.
  8. Balance between guidance and independence. Your Winterline semester will be led by Field Advisors who live and travel with you, ensuring you stay safe and on track. They’re there to help when you need it, but they won’t hold your hands the whole way like a parent! You’re responsible for aspects such as your budget, showing up on time to skills, and planning your own activities on free days.  winterline, gap year, latin america
  9. Save on tuition with a scholarshipIf you’re interested in traveling with a friend, you can save $500 each by enrolling together. Looking to build a portfolio for journalism, photography, videography, or social media? Save $500 with work-study scholarship!
  10. Make memories to last a lifetime. One semester is plenty of time to change your life. These new skills, countries, and friends will leave you with stories, photos, and learnings to bring with you wherever the future takes you.winterline, gap year, latin america

If you’re interested in joining our 2020 semester program to Latin America, complete your application today to secure your spot!

Photos of the Week: Trimester 1 Recap

The last few months were pretty busy for our students! Now they’re home for a few weeks to rest and recover before jetting off to Southeast Asia in January. With so many skills and adventures, you might have already forgotten what they accomplished during their fir. While you can always look back at our past Photos of the Week to remind yourself, we also have some pictures that were previously unpublished to share. Take a look to see the beach adventures, the tree climbing, the rainforest explorations, the scuba diving, the business building, the urban innovation, the homestays, and more.

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Ashley basking in the sunlight
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Crawly critters | Photo By: Ashley Zhao
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You’re never too old to play in the sand
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Costa Rican sunsets never get old | Photo By: Hannah Wareham
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Scuba selfies!
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Getting serious at business bootcamp | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Revamping a Panamanian community | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Time to climb | Photo By: Aimee Diederich
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Eli practicing scuba skills | Photo By: Micah Zimmerman
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The skies are pretty at all times of day | Photo By: Hannah Wareham
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Jack on the open seas
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Everything’s better out on the ocean
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Lauren and Emmie hanging out at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Leon, Pablo, Eli, and James at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Upcycling for Monteverde ISP | Photo By: Lauren Allen
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So many fabric choices for upcycling! | Photo By: Lauren Allen
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Learning to use a sewing machine | Photo By: Lauren Allen
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Lauren with her host family
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Reach for the sky | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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The rainforest is beyond beautiful | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Dogs make the best adventure buddies | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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In the rainforest, you see such unique species | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Taking in the view with a friend | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Sunset strikes again | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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Learning about sustainability at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Squad 3 exploring the rainforest | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Getting dirty | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Josh and his field advisors, Jamie and Felipe
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Squad 1 in Costa Rica

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. Want the experience, but unable to dedicate a whole year for travel? Then join our Latin America semester this fall! It’s never too early to start thinking about your future.

An Interview at Rancho Mastatal

While he and his squad were learning about sustainability at Rancho Mastatal, our student Liam took some time to interview staff member Ryan Roberts. Liam learned all about Ryan: what brought him to Rancho Mastatal, what it’s like to live on the ranch, and how he intends to use what he’s learned in the future when he eventually leaves the ranch.

Watch the interview to find out what life is like in rural Costa Rica, and if you’re interested in visiting for yourself, you’re in luck – in 2020, students on both of our gap year itineraries and our Latin America semester program will be spending time at Rancho Mastatal. Apply today to be one of these students!

Travel for Less on Cyber Monday

Now that the Thanksgiving long weekend is over and you’re back to class or work, it may feel like nothing exciting is happening anymore. But that’s not true: there are still sales to shop tonight, and even for the next few days on some sites! This Cyber Monday, dig into your travel fund for a discounted ticket to your dream destination.

Flight Deals

  • Aer Lingus: Today and tomorrow, fly to Europe for less! You can save $100 on economy seats or $200 on business class seats from U.S. cities including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Seattle, and more. Land in a European city of your choice!
  • Alaskan Airlines: You still have 2 days left to take advantage of Alaskan Airlines’ flight deals. These flights start from just $29, max out around $200, and take you to and from almost any U.S. city and to select international destinations! 
  • Delta: Until December 4th, you can take advantage of Delta’s domestic and international flight deals. Round trip flights start at just $97!
  • Frontier Airlines: You can save 99% on your flight before taxes and fees. Yes, you read that right: 99% off! You still have to pay for luggage and other fees, but the end result is still a really cheap flight. Use the code “CYBER” to save on select fares until midnight!
  • JetBlue: Book before midnight tomorrow to get discounted flights from almost any city on JetBlue.
  • Norwegian Air: Norwegian Air is offering 15% off select nonstop flights until midnight tonight! You can get from San Francisco to Paris or New York to Amsterdam for under $150, and more.winterline_airplane_budget
  • Qatar Airways: Today only, get flights starting at $545 to destinations in Southeast Asia and Africa! This may still sound expensive, but compared to the usual cost to fly to Thailand or Kenya, this is a great deal. You can even save on a flight to South Africa for our summer program! 
  • Scandinavian Airlines: Looking to get to Denmark, Norway, Sweden, or somewhere else in Europe? Get flights starting at $349 when you book before midnight tomorrow!
  • Southwest: Deals for Southwest start at just $39 dollars and are available until December 5th. 
  • Spirit Airlines: Spirit is already known for their low-cost flights, but you can save even more until midnight! These flights start at just $23.30 one way.
  • Student Universe: You can save up to $200 on flights when you book through Student Universe to fly anywhere around the world.
  • United Airlines: Use the code CYBER25 until midnight tomorrow to upgrade your seat to Economy Plus for extra legroom! You can also browse discounted flights starting at $97.

Of course, you’re going to need luggage for these trips. Might as well take advantage of these sales as well and treat yourself to a new suitcase!

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels
  • eBags: Not sure which brand you want? Retailer eBags has them all in one place to scroll through, and until midnight, you can get your picks for up to 50% off with the code CYBER.
  • Monos: Use the code CYBERMONDAY to save up to 25% on these premium suitcases.
  • MVST Select: Until December 4th, you can save 35% on your purchase with the code BF35. This is their largest discount of the year, so don’t miss out!
  • Roam Luggage: Buy more, save more. With this sale, you’ll save $50 when you buy one suitcase, $125 when you buy two, and $250 when you buy three!
  • Zappos: Like eBags, this retailer has multiple brands in one place for you to compare – and they’re on sale! Scroll through to see what deals are available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Handle Reverse Culture Shock

This weekend, our students were welcomed home by their friends and families for winter break. Two months away from home may not sound like a very long time, but our students kept pretty busy during their first trimester, adjusting to new countries, forming bonds with each other, and immersing in new cultures. It doesn’t take long to adjust to the lifestyle of traveling, meaning even when you miss home, returning can actually be quite difficult. So how do you handle reverse culture shock?winterline, gap year

Talk it Out

If you already feel truly changed by your gap year, you might be frustrated that your peers at home are still the same. You might find yourself suddenly unsure of established friendships, but you can’t expect them to understand your transformation unless you talk to them about it. If people are interested in hearing your stories, tell them! That said, you can’t force people to understand how you’re different, and you can’t force them to change alongside you. You have to accept that certain interests or perspectives you once shared with friends may no longer be relevant – it’s just part of life.

Keep it Up

Another challenge can be coming back from freedom and adventure to a home where you have to answer to your parents again. It can be easy to slip back into old patterns and behaviors, even if you don’t intend to. Part of combating this means continuing to experience new things! Going from learning new skills in new countries everyday to following a strict routine is a big change. So work in new experiences where you can. Whether this means continuing to travel, picking up a class outside of your major or career, or starting a new hobby, feeding your need for adventure will help you adapt to your next chapter of life.

View from the plane as we landed in Delhi, India. You can see the pollution!

Stay in Touch

The only people who truly understand exactly what you went through on your gap year are the ones you traveled with! Make the effort to stay in touch with your peers, whether it be through social media, texting and calling, or in-person visits if you’re located closely enough. You can also stay connected with people you met around the world to stay updated on what’s going on in different countries. And if you go to college after your gap year, seek out others with study-abroad or gap year experience to make friends who you can relate to.

Be Patient

The fact is, there are some things that only time can heal. Your first few days, weeks, or even months back home may feel strange and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to change that except wait it out. Cherish your memories and time traveling, of course, but don’t dwell on the past too much. You’ll get through this and be on to the next adventure, whatever that may be.

Taking a siesta | Photo By: Emma Mays
Taking a siesta | Photo By: Emma Mays

 

Photos of the Week 11/22

We’re very sad to say that Trimester 1 is just about over! Tomorrow, November 23rd, our students will travel back to their homes for winter break to recharge for the next two trimesters. Students who came in as strangers are now family, and it’ll be hard to say goodbye for the next few weeks. But they’ve certainly had an incredible time in Costa Rica and Panama for the past few months, and it won’t be long until they’re reuniting to jet off to Asia!

Take a look at the last photos from Trimester 1 and try not to miss us too much while our students are at home. Don’t worry: you can always look back at our past Photos of the Week to get your fix, and we might even have a special Trimester 1 recap blog coming up soon…

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Alyssa and Veronica used some free time to go bungee jumping!
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Lydia, Spencer, and Darshil take a selfie before scuba diving
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James and Josh ready to hit the ocean
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The boys of Squad 1
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A fishing-day selfie
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Squad 1: scuba certified!
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Darshil and Field Advisor Felipe are all thumbs-up
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Squad 1 enjoying the beach
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Silhouettes in the Costa Rican sunset | Photo By: Hannah Wareham
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These sunsets never get old | Photo By: Hannah Wareham
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Squad 1 had the rare opportunity to see sea turtles hatch! | Photo By: Felipe Buitrago
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Tiny turtles | Photo By: Felipe Buitrago
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Off to the water they go | Photo By: Felipe Buitrago
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Emmie at La Iguana Chocolate Factory | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Frijoles Locos’ surf van embodies the Costa Rica vibe | Photo By: Hannah Wareham
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Caught monkeyin’ around | Photo By: Pablo Gonzalez-Pacheco
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Handmade pizza | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Important Costa Rica language lesson | Photo By: Micah Zimmerman
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Handmade soap from Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Jamie Hackbarth
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Under the sea | Photo By: Jack Li
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Squad 1 hanging out | Photo By: Jack Li
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Squad 1 spent their week on the water
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Squad 1 getting ready for ocean safety lessons
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Diving practice in the pool | Photo By: partner organization Pacific Coast Dive Center
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Squad 1 in the pool | Photo By: partner organization Pacific Coast Dive Center
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Field Advisors get scuba certified, too! | Photo By: Jamie Hackbarth
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Just chillin’ underwater
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Baby turtles huddled together | Photo By: Hannah Wareham
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Squad 1 grabbing their boards | Photo By: Jamie Hackbarth
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Veronica rolling her pizza dough

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. It’s never too early to start thinking about your future. And if you apply between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you’ll automatically save $1,000 on your tuition!

Top 4 Resources for Planning Your Gap Year

So you’re thinking about taking a gap year – now what? A Google search just isn’t enough to answer all of your questions: Should I actually take a gap year? Should I build my own schedule? Should I join a program? But there’s so many – which one is right for me? Can I get college credit? Can I afford a gap year? How do I attend college after my gap year? And the list goes on.

There’s plenty of resources dedicated specifically to answering these questions and making the experience as smooth as possible for students like you. Here are the best places for you to focus your research on for maximum understanding of the entire gap year process.

The Complete Guide to the Gap Year: The Best Things to Do Between High School and College by Kristin White

Kristin White knows a lot about education. As a consultant who helps families find schools, colleges, and special programs, she’s spent a lot of time visiting campuses and working with students. So you can rest assured that White knows what she’s talking about in her book, now in its second edition! Whether you’re in the first stage of considering a gap year or you already know you want one but don’t know how to spend it, White’s The Complete Guide to the Gap Year is the place to start your research.gap year book

Learn what college admissions deans think about gap years. Why gap years are growing in popularity. How you can afford the program of your choice. What the program of your choice is! With a directory including 200 of the world’s best gap year programs (including internship, career development, and college transition programs), you’ll find a path to your future in the pages of this guide.

Gap Year Association

The Gap Year Association (GYA) should be your go-to for research, advice, and information about gap years in general. Since 2012, GYA has been leading the gap year movement. Not only do they work to accredit programs like our own based on safety, quality, and integrity, but they work with colleges to build more opportunities for students to receive college credit and aid through FAFSA. Additionally, GYA conducts ongoing research to determine the benefits of a gap year.  Visit the GYA website to learn what a gap year is and why it matters, locate a gap year counselor, or find advice on transitioning from a gap year to college. If you’re looking for a program, they have an entire directory and list of possible scholarships! Guided gap year or self-created, college deferrence or transition, counselors or financial aid, GYA has it all.

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Squad 2 on their gap year

Listing Sites

Using program websites and social media is a great way to learn about the mission and purpose of the program. But the best way to see what a gap year will really be like is to hear from people who have done it themselves! Listing sites like GoAbroad and GoOverseas host unedited reviews from real alumni of each program. You can browse through the programs offered, or if you have a specific one in mind, search for it and check out what other students have to say. Both sites even allow you to create an account so that you can bookmark programs you’re interested in for further research and comparison!

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Our alumni write reviews for us on these sites

In-Person Discussions

The internet is a great research tool, but there’s only so much you can learn from looking at a screen. Sometimes, you just need to talk to a person to fully understand what you’re signing up for. Luckily, the USA Gap Year Fairs are the perfect opportunity for this! Every year, GoOverseas hosts 40+ fairs around the country, meaning there’s bound to be one to visit near you. The newest fair dates have yet to be announced, but they’ll take place between January and March of 2020. Countless gap year programs will be in attendance, giving you the chance to discover programs you haven’t heard of, learn more from trips you’re interested in, compare them side-by-side, and walk away with contact information and resources for more knowledge. As exciting as these fairs are, they can also be overwhelming, so take a look at our tips for making the most of these fairs to prepare.

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Our table at a past Gap Year Fair

If you already know that Winterline could be the program for you, we also offer special home visits! Our Director of Outreach and Recruitment, Erica, is located in the Pacific Northwest. If you call this region home, she’s always happy to meet with you and your family to give you more details on Winterline and answer any questions you have. Located elsewhere? No worries: you can jump on a video call with Erica for the same experience.

Erica and Cody at BMW Driving Experience
Erica was a Field Advisor first, so she knows the program inside and out

 

Outward Bound Costa Rica: A Family

Outward Bound Costa Rica was an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Spending ten days living in the middle of the rainforest with no signal or TV, with only my peers and a remarkable staff, truly made for an excellent start to my gap year. All of the activities were absolutely incredible, from the waterfall hikes to climbing to the top of ancient trees, to completely immersing ourselves in the culture of Costa Rica. Beyond our activities, the time spent at base also gave us the opportunity to create relationships that will never be forgotten both within and between the different squads, along with Field Advisors and especially the Outward Bound family.

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My squad learning how to technical climb trees in the rainforest

Outward Bound as an organization is all about making a positive impact on everything around them. Two of their main focuses are the environment, not only exploring it but also caring for it, and the community that surrounds them, which includes the city of San Jose. An example of their effort to make a positive impact is that Outward Bound doesn’t use any beef products because the cattle industry is one of the leading causes of deforestation. The products they do use are almost entirely from local sources and thoroughly checked for ethical practices.

For the community they do many things such as teaching children about protecting the forests and oceans, and also how to make a difference at home with practices like composting. All members of the community are welcome at Outward Bound so they can connect with nature and form a greater appreciation for it, this in turn builds a connection with the people of the local community. It has taken time but this process has built not an organization, but one humongous family.

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The view from atop the hill at Outward Bound on a misty day

A family is the only way to describe the people at Outward Bound, everyone there is more than happy to be apart of their community and sharing it with us. Several of the employees credit Outward Bound with changing their lives in incredible ways, either through paying for their education or saving them from a bad situation. Each of them is a member of the surrounding community that Outward Bound works with and cares for. I believe this is where their overwhelming kindness comes from. Whether it was the cooks, Karina and Oscar, or Josh, the guide who has the Outward Bound compass tattooed on his forearm, they all truly connected with our group of young adults.

Among the staff was also Grace, who worked with my squad in facilitating almost all of our activities and is personally one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. She shared with me and a few other students her story of overcoming incredible adversity through her love of dance and animals, which ultimately lead her to Outward Bound. Her openness, along with her kindness and passion, made an impact on everyone around her. When it was time for us to move on, it felt as if we had all joined their wonderful family. During that final meeting there were many bittersweet tears both from our own Winterline family and those at Outward Bound.

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My squad with Grace, Oscar, Kevin, and Karina

Photos of the Week 11/15

We’re back with your weekly fix of our student photos, and some added critters and creatures in the mix! There’s still plenty to see from our students in Costa Rica: more photos from Monteverde ISPs, more sustainable fishing with ConnectOcean, and more sustainability education at Rancho Mastatal. Even though all three squads work with the same partners and learn the same skills, their experiences are entirely individual.

You know what that means: you can’t really understand the Winterline experience until you have it yourself!

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Alexandra sewing for her Monteverde ISP
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Alexandra measuring out fabric to sew
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Homestay mother/sewing teacher following a pattern | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Alexandra cutting her fabric
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Alexandra with her homestay parents
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Making ceviche with freshly caught fish! | Photo By: Jamie Hackbarth
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The finished ceviche dish | Photo By: Jamie Hackbarth
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A lizard lit up! | Photo By: Hannah Wareham
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Animals don’t have to have fur to be cute | Photo By: Lydia Miller
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A beautiful Monteverde landscape | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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The Monteverde landscape never gets old | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Alyssa taking in the beauty of the Monteverde Cloud Forest
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Alyssa’s ready to hit the waves
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A sloth just hanging around | Photo By: Lucas Massolo
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Squad 1 at Rancho Mastatal
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Cooking at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Darshil Dholakia
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Felipe at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Darshil Dholakia
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Jack at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Darshil Dholakia
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Squad 1 selfie!
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Waterfall hikes with Squad 1
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The beauty of Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Darshil Dholakia
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Squad 1 getting dirty | Photo By: partner organization Rancho Mastatal
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Squad 2 group photo

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. It’s never too early to start thinking about your future!

Reflecting on Trimester 1: A Squad 1 Quotebook

Traveling alone is certainly a nerve-wracking thing to experience for the first time. For many of the Winterline students, this was our first time leaving home in such a major way. I know for me personally, I was very unsure of what to expect going in to this program, despite all the helpful information the company provided. Of course I was excited, and having been a part of this program for about a month now experiencing living with a new group of people, seeing the beautiful mountains of Colorado, and traveling to Costa Rica for the first time, I can safely say I have enjoyed nearly every second of it. Curious to find out the opinions of my peers, I asked some of my group the following questions:

  1. What were your biggest challenges during the first week in Winterline, and what did you have to do to overcome them?
  2. What were your expectations for the program, and how were they met or subverted?
  3. After a successful beginning to your journey, what are you most looking forward to?

Spencer Turner:

  1. My biggest challenge was probably being shy and putting myself out there. I overcame it by going out and leaving my comfort zone, and going to all of the scheduled events/ talking to as many people as possible.
  2. I thought the people here were going to be very different from me. I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming and warm everyone was. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to make friends with everyone, but after a month now I can say there isn’t a single person I don’t get along with.
  3. I’m most looking forward to seeing my group mate Darshil’s family in India. I’ve always wanted to see India, but never had the guts or opportunity to go. Now I have a friend from there to show me around and finally fulfill that dream.
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Spencer (left) and Darshil (right) traveling to visit an indigenous group in Panama (Credit: Darshil Dholakia)

Lydia Miller:

    1. Leaving all my friends behind was very tough, and being put into a situation where I was forced to make new ones was not something I was used to, coming from a small town. I was very fortunate to have been placed in a squad where I feel I mesh well with everyone.
    2. I had 0 expectations going into Winterline, and that in and of itself was a terrifying feeling. It made me feel like I wasn’t prepared at all because I didn’t know what it was going to be like.
    3. I’ve enjoyed mostly every aspect of this journey up until now. Winterline certainly keeps you busy, in a good way, of course. I feel as though I have experienced something new and fun every single day, but I miss my friends and family so it will be nice to see them and relax during our winter break.
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Lydia enjoying an afternoon at Outward Bound Costa Rica

Darshil Dholakia:

  1. For me the biggest challenge was to be away from my family and friends, and being away from my home country of India. I miss being able to speak my native language, but I already knew English so it wasn’t impossible to transition.
  2. I didn’t really expect much, I just hoped that the food and accommodations would be good. The food at the YMCA was average, but I won’t complain. The living accomodations were different than I am used to for sure, but were sufficient for the week that we stayed, and were valuable to experience for someone like me who has never had to have roommates or lived with a group of ten people.
  3. I’m very excited for driving at the BMW dealership in Germany, and seeing the Panama Canal which is coming up soon in the trip.
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Squad 1 having a fun night out in Monteverde (Credit: Darshil Dholakia)

Are you thinking about taking a gap year? If so, what are you most nervous and excited about? We’re always happy to answer your questions and help you prepare for the journey!

Photos of the Week 11/8

Our three squads are back in Costa Rica, and if you can believe it, there’s only two weeks left of Trimester 1! We’re happy to say that our students are still having an amazing time in Central America. This week, Squad 3 is off on their Monteverde ISPs, learning skills like recycled paper-making and neotropical bird monitoring. Squad 2 has been in the water, learning ocean safety with ConnectOcean and getting scuba certified with Pacific Coast Dive Center. Finally, Squad 1 is enjoying some time off the grid at Rancho Mastatal, so stay tuned for their photos when they resurface on WiFi next week!

Which Costa Rican partner would you most like to work with and learn from on a Winterline gap year? It’s hard to choose: as you can tell from the photos below, they’re all an amazing experience!

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Alyssa on the water
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Alyssa practicing her photography skills | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Learning ocean safety with ConnectOcean
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Interacting with ocean species | Photo By: Lucas Massolo
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Ocean views | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Avian friends | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Beautiful birds | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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Learning about neotropical bird species | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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Making recycled paper for Monteverde ISP | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Making recycled paper for Monteverde ISP | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Making recycled paper for Monteverde ISP | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Squad 2 hit the seas | Photo By: partner organization Pacific Coast Dive Center
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Checking out the ocean view | Photo By: partner organization Pacific Coast Dive Center
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Creative expression | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Veronica with her catch
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Christian and Jackson suited up for ocean safety | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Winterline takes on Baywatch | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Hit the water! | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Taking ocean safety lessons seriously | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Lifeguarding skills under way | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Lydia, Peyton, and Andrea learning natural building | Photo By: partner organization Rancho Mastatal
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Darshil and Jack working with bamboo | Photo By: partner organization Rancho Mastatal
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Zarah and Andrea using natural building tools | Photo By: partner organization Rancho Mastatal
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Peyton and Lydia chop bamboo | Photo By: partner organization Rancho Mastatal
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Alyssa hanging out on the beach
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Rainbow + sunset = heavenly views | Photo By: Lauren Speroni
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Jason enjoying a boat ride
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Did someone say “Titanic”? | Photo By: Jason Thomas
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Prepping for the open water | Photo By: partner organization Pacific Coast Dive Center
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Jason suited up for scuba
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Exploring underwater | Photo By: partner organization Pacific Coast Dive Center
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All good underwater | Photo By: Nik Blushi
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Views above water aren’t bad, either | Photo By: Nik Blushi
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Getting certified | Photo By: partner organization Pacific Coast Dive Center
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You don’t need words to communicate underwater | Photo By: partner organization Pacific Coast Dive Center
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An incredible sunset to finish off the day | Photo By: Jason Thomas

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. It’s never too early to start thinking about your future!

Visiting Playa Potrero

Playa Potrero is in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, which has a rich history that includes actually belonging to Nicaragua until 1825, when the citizens voted to join Costa Rica. The area is known for its amazing beaches, surf sites, and biodiversity throughout the land and ocean. This makes it a tourism hotspot, and that is the major industry in the region. Staying in Playa Potrero outside of tourism season is definitely a strange feeling and standing out is unavoidable. Everyone was excited to see us wherever we went but we could assume it was because we were the only people there besides staff and a few locals.

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Our squad with the Hotel Isolina staff

While staying at the Hotel Isolina right up the street from the beach, we were lucky enough to catch some of the most beautiful sunsets this world has to offer. Along that same beach we found unbeatable seafood and enjoyed the company of friendly locals who were happy to spend time with us. One of my favourite aspects of this location was that everywhere we went we could find friendly animals that are used to tourists and look forward to the attention. It’s not necessarily advised to pet every dog and cat, but when an animal approached me with caution, I found myself pleasantly surprised every time.

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A friendly local dog our squad ran into outside the hot springs

Playa Potrero offers so much natural beauty around every corner and everywhere I looked, it felt like living in a postcard. While staying there, we were lucky enough to surf the beautiful beaches and then explore beneath the waves while scuba diving, all of which created an experience that I can safely say changed my entire view on the ocean for the rest of my life. Learning how fishing is done locally, then how to prepare that same fish is one of the most satisfying and rewarding feelings. After Playa Potrero, I can’t imagine myself not living by the ocean for the rest of my days.

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Shirley, Alex, Carter, and Me 20 meters underwater

 

Photos of the Week 11/1

Sadly, the time has come for our students to say goodbye to Panama. After a busy few weeks of business bootcamp, urban innovation workshops, and city exploration, our students rounded off their trip by relaxing on the beaches of Panama’s San Blas Islands. From dipping into the crystal clear waters, to petting some friendly dogs, to savoring some local meals, the students put their last few days in this country to good use.

Check out the last of this year’s Panama photos and stay tuned for updates from the students as they return to Costa Rica!

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Ashley and Alexandra swimming | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Business bootcamp presentations | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Let’s get cooking | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Making new foods | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Learning from the instructor | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Phone eats first | Photo By: Alyssa Copham
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Lauren and James pose for a photo
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James, Leon, and the Panama City skyline
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Pablo showing off his creation | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Pablo on the beach!
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Alexandra, Ashley, and Emma laying on the beach | Photo By: Joselin Hernandez
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Field Advisors Jamie, Felipe, Joselin, and Sam getting together
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Lauren just hanging around on the beach
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Leon, Carter, and Lauren went tree climbing
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Lauren showing off her balance!
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Whit and Emma on the docks
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Beautiful beach views | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Emma, Whit, and Sherly are all smiles
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Ashley making a puppy friend
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Eli and Micah chilling in the pool
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Final dinner in Panama! | Photo By: Jared Franklin
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Dogs on the beach | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Whit taking in the views

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. It’s never too early to start thinking about your future!

7 Tips to Mastering a Foreign Language While Abroad

Most students have to learn (or try to learn) a foreign language in high school as part of their yearly curriculum. But as we all know, nothing beats taking your classroom studies on the road. Practicing a foreign language in its native country is the best way to become a linguistics master. Once abroad, however, you may find stumbling through words and sentences completely frustrating. Hopefully, this list of quick linguistic tips will help.winterline, gap year

1. Do your homework: Research the country you are planning to visit and learn some of the slang/basic phrases ahead of time.

2. Get study materials: Pick up an English translation dictionary for reference. You will need it!

3. Download a few language apps: Google Translate is just one of the many useful travel apps available for iPhone and Android. It can translate whole paragraphs of text or even just spoken words. Simply say a phrase in English and the app will repeat your words in the foreign language where traveling.5 Apps to Help You Learn a New Language

4. Go to school: You may find it helpful to take a few language classes while abroad. This is exactly what Winterline’s students will be doing while spending several weeks in Central America in Costa Rica.

5. Immerse yourself! Meet as many people as you can and talk to them without reverting to English (or your native language).

6. Practice the language: While abroad, speak the language every chance you get. Winterline’s students will also be living in a homestay for part of their experience; the perfect environment to practice, practice, practice.

7. Be patient; it will come.

You may find that navigating a foreign city, deciphering a menu, or simply attempting to barter in a bustling market challenging. Follow these simple steps, though, and you will soon find yourself communicating and interacting like a local. Well, hopefully close.

CPR and Wilderness First Aid at Outward Bound Costa Rica

Deep within a rainforest in Cartago, Costa Rica lies a boisterous school filled with tremendous opportunities. This is the rainforest base of Outward Bound, a company self described as “the leading provider of experiential and outdoor education programs for youth and adults.” The students of Winterline spent much time on one such program learning the ins and outs of both CPR and Wilderness First Aid. Every single one of us became certified in both, a valuable accomplishment for both the next eight months of our travel, as well as for further than the foreseeable future. The process was quite simple actually.

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Instructor Bailey(Source: Outward Bound Website)
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Instructor Carlos (Source: Outward Bound Website)

Amid some of the craziest travel opportunities of our lives, we began the process to receive our certifications with…school. Not the most exciting portion of the trip, but necessary and helpful nonetheless. Our two instructors, Carlos and Bailey, spent eight hours for three days in a row teaching us everything we needed to know in order to help one another in case of an emergency.

This consisted of typical textbook reading, practicing on dummies as well as each other, and watching videos of possible dangers we may face as well as how to deal with them. Using each other as pretend victims was exhilarating as many of the situations we were acting out required us to trust one another to practice certain skills and handle each other in the appropriate manner. Aside from that, while it wasn’t the most exciting three days of note taking and test stress, Carlos and Bailey worked to make it as interesting as possible to keep us engaged and prepared to earn our certifications.

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Students James and Darshil taking the wilderness first aid test to receive their certification (Credit: Lydia Miller)

Most of the focus with Outward Bound was on wilderness first aid (first aid in a situation where help is not readily available). However, we touched on workplace injuries as well during the CPR portion. This was actually an eye opening experience for many of us, because it really hammered home the point that accidents can happen anywhere at any time, and if nobody is prepared to deal with them, you may be out of luck.

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Certification cards (Credit: Sherly Budiman)

I’m very happy to have received my education in CPR and first aid because I won’t be the person panicking in the background; there’s so much more my peers and I can do to help now. What I’ve taken away from this experience is that everyone should receive an education similar to the one Outward Bound was able to provide, and I’m sure my peers can and will say the same.

I’m very proud of all the work we put in over the course of the week, and looking back I can say the time we spent together throughout this education was very valuable in terms of bonding and trust building within the group. Having to work together in “stressful” situations led us to rely on each other as well as ourselves, and I think that was important for us to go through so early on in the trip while we still don’t know each other too well. Overall, I can say I’m quite pleased with this segment of Winterline.

Photos of the Week 10/25

Our students have made progress in Panama! They’ve been hard at work with Giro Urbano Panama, tackling community issues for their urban innovation segment. During this time, the students worked to improve the quality of life for residents in the Miraflores neighborhood of Panama through innovation, tactical tools, and applied methodology.

One of these projects has been learning to design and build cities. To achieve this goal,they’ve worked on improving safety and promoting community-neighborhood interaction by highlighting crosswalks. Check out the finished results below, as well as some more photos from the visit to Parará Purú, an indigenous community outside of Panama City.

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Alyssa having artwork done by a member of the Parara Puru community | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Cruising down the river | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Docking at the Parara Puru village | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Eli and Micah hanging at the rooftop pool
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Eli getting tribal artwork done | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Nothing like a good meal | Photo By: Alyssa Copham
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Community development done by our students with Giro Urbano Panama!
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Jackson painting the streets | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Jason, Emmie, Alyssa,and Eli making friends with the children of the Parara Puru community | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Peace and love in Panama | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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Liam painting the streets with Giro Urbano | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Waterfall adventures | Photo By: Emmie Daswani
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Emmie and her new friend!
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The boys in Panama City | Photo By: Jacob Rona
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Time to get caffeinated | Photo By: Liam McIlwain
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The Panama City skyline at night | Photo By: Emmie Daswani
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The skyline in daylight | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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At work with Giro Urbano | Photo By: Liam McIlwain

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. It’s never too early to start thinking about your future!

The End of an Adventure

As hard as it is to admit, every trip has to come to an end. Whether you’ve been gone for a week or a year, it can be hard to say goodbye to a place you’ve fallen in love with, to the friends you’ve made, to the excitement of traveling overall. So how can you prepare yourself for the inevitable journey home?

Get your souvenirs

Don’t feel like you have to get gifts for everyone you know, but if you see something that you just know your family member or friend would love, why not bring it home to let them you know you were thinking of them on your trip? You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a meaningful gift. Even a postcard with a nice note will make your loved ones feel included in your adventures. And of course, get something for yourself to remember your trip by! Whether you want a small token from each city you visit or one larger reminder of your journey overall, each time you look at your souvenirs you’ll be transported back to your trip.winterline, gap year, souvenir

Exchange contact info with your friends

Whether they’re your Winterline peers or people you met along the way, you’ll make friends that you want to keep in touch with. Don’t be afraid to ask people for their WhatsApp numbers, email addresses, or social media information. The last thing you want is to get home, miss them, and be left wondering about their life when you realize you have no way to reach them. Even if you know you won’t be or remain best friends, it’ll be nice to scroll through Instagram and see what new adventures they’re having.winterline, gap year, friends

Visit your favorite place one last time

Could you spend hours in a specific museum? Does a landmark or monument take your breath away every time you see it? Is there a specific cafe or restaurant where you want to try everything on the menu? Give yourself time to visit this place once more before you leave. Bring your friends if you want to share its magic or go alone for some intentional reflection. Maybe this is the best place to get your souvenir, but at least take plenty of pictures to remember it by! You can even do some journaling here: make note of how the place makes you feel, your favorite thing about it, and what you’ll miss the most.winterline, gap year, temple

Update your resume

If you’re coming home from a Winterline gap year, you have a slew of new skills under your belt. Add them to your resume! Whether you’re going to college or looking for a job or internship, you’ll want people to know where you’ve been and what you’ve learned. This is especially true if your gap year helped you discover the subject you want to study or the skill you want to pursue as a career. winterline, gap year, study

Reflect, reflect, reflect

What did you learn from your travels? Is there anything you would do differently? Are there skills you learned that you want to practice when you get home? Asking yourself questions like these will help you process your experience. This will make it easier for you to share the details with friends and family, and it’ll help you prepare for any future travel experience! You can think about what was successful about your journey to do again and what you’ll change next time you go somewhere. Of course, there are aspects of travel that you’ll miss, but get yourself in the right mindspace for returning home by thinking about who you’re excited to see and what you’re eager to do upon your return.winterline, gap year, journal

What’s the hardest part for you about going home at the end of a trip? How do you prepare yourself to say goodbye?

What’s New: Our 2020 Gap Year

The Winterline program is constantly evolving so that we can continue to offer you the best gap year possible. This means that each year, there are some changes: some small, some big. Each change we make comes from student and Field Advisor feedback: what you loved, what could use improvement, what you’d add to the program that doesn’t exist. For example, last year we announced our second itinerary traveling to Rwanda and South Africa. Now, we have some really cool announcements about our 2020-2021 gap year! Here’s what will be new for next year’s students. Get excited!

New Countries

Guatemala

Finish off your Trimester 1 experience in Guatemala, the Land of Eternal Spring! You’ll still visit Costa Rica and Panama for skills like scuba, business bootcamp, surfing, and more. But students on both itineraries will also get nearly two weeks in this new country to learn skills such as weaving, ceramics, cooking, and candle making (more details below)! Your visit will also include an excursion to the deepest lake – and one of the most beautiful – in Central America: Lake Atitlán! In the lake community of Santiago Atitlán, you’ll get to explore the town and visit a handicraft market.

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Lake Atitlan in Guatemala | Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Croatia

Sadly, our 2019-2020 gap year will be the last group of students visiting Austria on the Winterline gap year. But in its place, 2020-2021 students will visit a new travel destination: Split, Croatia’s second-largest city! Located on the shore of the Adriatic Sea, this city is the perfect place to introduce a new skill, as well: sailing! You can find out more about this specific skill below. Croatia will also be where students learn robotics with STEMI, getting lessons in robot assembly and mechanics, creating a mobile app, 3D modeling, and Arduino programming. Remember that students have the choice to either visit Croatia or South Africa, so think hard about which path you’ll take!

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Split, Croatia

New Skills and Partners

Weaving

You’ll have the opportunity to learn how local Guatemalan women work with cotton: from planting their own seeds, to dyeing the cotton, to creating something beautiful out of it. Throughout a three-day homestay in the town where these women live, you’ll get to weave and dye your own scarf to take home as a reminder of your experience and testament of your skills!

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Photo by Kiara Coll from Pexels

Ceramics

Spend a day learning the antique skill of ceramics from a local expert. She processes the clay from the mountain, brings it home, grinds it with stone, and fires it in her own house. You’ll be able to watch her process and work alongside her to create a small piece to keep.

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Ceramics | Photo By: Lydia Miller

Candle Making

In some of the villages of Guatemala, there isn’t always electricity, so candles are necessities. The citizens of these communities will teach you how to get, boil, and dye wax, and how to put the wick in the candle. You’ll also learn about how different types of candles are used in this culture during this daylong workshop.winterline, gap year, candles

Sailing

With Croatia’s Ultra Sailing, you’ll take an ISPA Competent Crew Sail Certificate 4 Day Course! You don’t need to have any background in sailing for this skill, as the course will cover all the basics. After a safety briefing, you’ll start to learn about unberthing and setting sails. There will be plenty of rope work practice and individual feedback before you take your certification exam. Not only will this course help you get another certification under your belt, but you’ll get to take in the beauty and experience of life at sea.

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Maria sailing for her Europe ISP

Glassblowing

With the help of Abate Zanetti in Venice, students will learn more about the timeless art of glassblowing. Do you know what the processes of fusing or lampworking are? After working with this partner, you’ll know what each term means, how they differ, and what types of glass they produce. Turning raw materials into beautiful glass art will be an experience you’ll never forget.

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Blown glass | Photo By: Emma Mays

You can visit our Gap Year page to find out more about what this journey consists of. Once you’re ready, apply to secure a spot on next year’s program! However, keep in mind, details are subject to change.

Photos of the Week 10/18

Our students sure have been busy in Panama! They explored Panama City and learned how to take public transportation. They visited the Panama Canal to learn about its history and creation. They also visited the Embera village of Parará Purú, an indigenous community outside of Panama City. Throughout all of these experiences, the students have had the opportunity to interact with local citizens and have their worldviews broadened.

Alongside these experiences, our students have begun their urban innovation and business bootcamp workshops! This involves the students speaking to the people of Panama City about what areas in their community need improvement. The next step is for our students to collaborate and find sustainable solutions to some of these problems. Check out what this week has looked like, and stay tuned to see what results they come up with!

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Alexandra takes in the Panama City sunset
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Alyssa working on urban innovation | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Panama City ruins | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Darshil, Spencer, and James hanging out | Photo By: Jacob Rona
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Emma’s all smiles for Panama City | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Panama City graffiti | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Students with the Parara Puru community
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Who said work can’t be fun? | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Urban innovation with friends | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Lydia having a blast | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Panama City market stalls | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Panama city market | Photo By: Peyton Farley
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Boat rides in Panama | Photo By: Eliza Valley

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Views at the Panama Canal | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Buildings covered with ivy | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Panama City street views | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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That skyline never gets old | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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Busy city | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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Leon and Lucas with members of the Parara Puru community
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Children of Parara Puru | Photo By: Lucas Massolo
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Foggy days in Panama | Photo By: Lucas Massolo
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Beach views | Photo By: Lucas Massolo
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Boat rides into the clouds | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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Planning urban innovation work
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All squads in Panama!
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Showing off the Winterline logo | Photo By: Veronica Allmon

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. It’s never too early to start thinking about your future!

Photos of the Week 10/11

Can you believe our students are already on to the next country? That’s right: this week they arrived in Panama City, where lessons on the city and canal wait, as do a business bootcamp, visit to an indigenous community, and urban innovation workshop.

If you’re sad to say goodbye to Costa Rica, we have good news for you! After a few weeks in Panama, our students will be headed back to this country to finish off Trimester 1. But for the time being, enjoy these photos as the last highlights from Costa Rica.

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Alexandra and Aimee cheers | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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Christian and Veronica working at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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Lucas and Alyssa on the beach
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Monkeying around | Photo By: Lucas Massolo
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Soaking in the sunset | Photo By: Aimee Diderich
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Don’t forget to smile | Photo By: Micah Zimmerman
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Alexandra at the waterfall
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A friendly face | Photo By: Leon Louw
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Waterfall hikes | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Josh at his Monteverde ISP
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Josh cooking at his Monteverde ISP
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Lydia is all smiles
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FA Jamie in the Monteverde Cloud Forest
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Who’s ready for a nap? | Photo By: Lydia Miller
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Jacob recycling at his Monteverde ISP
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Making chocolate | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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Pablo and Micah on the beach
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The beauty of the rainforest | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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Working at Rancho Mastatal | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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Scuba certified | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Underwater adventures | Photo By: Pacific Coast Dive Center
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Scuba has its own language | Photo By: Pacific Coast Dive Center
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Sunset selfie | Photo By: Aimee Diderich
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The boys of Squad 3
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Costa Rican rainbows | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Cooling down in the waterfall | Photo By: Whitfield Smith
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Hello Panama City! | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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Panama City views | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. It’s never too early to start thinking about your future!

Certification Programs

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Winterline’s gap year and short programs give students opportunities to earn different certifications to prepare them for various careers. But what are the benefits of having these certifications?

Each year, high school seniors approaching graduation experience an unfamiliar combination of stress, anticipation, and anxiety. As students plan how they’ll spend the precious time between graduation and the start of college, many compare the benefits of a romantic quest for adventure and self discovery with the more pragmatic search for professional experience.

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Certifications like these may prove incredibly beneficial to students pursuing careers in everything from outdoor education, medicine, health care, environmental science, coaching, camp counseling, hospitality, tourism, and the like.

While general experience in these fields is useful, students’ individual experiences can often be abstract and “unofficial”, making it difficult for a future employer to feel confident about a potential hire. Inexperienced students seeking a job often face a frustrating catch-22 when they lack the experience needed to get a job they were planning to use for experience.

Certified students avoid this conundrum, bypassing the stress and disappointment. Our affiliated certification programs are internationally recognized. So by training for and receiving a certification from them, students have a chance to build connections with instructors and get their foot in the door – a major advantage in many competitive fields.

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Certifications provide undeniable proof of one’s burgeoning commitment and expertise within a particular field. Pursuing a certification may also be the solution for a more goal-oriented individual, or an answer to doubtful friends or family members who ask, “what will you get out of your gap semester?”.

For students planning to study at a liberal arts college, earning a certification can offer a refreshing dose of real world skill-building before entering a highly academic environment.

Not only do Winterline students leave the program with these valuable certifications on their resume, they also make lifelong friends, hone their skills, and develop their worldview while travelling through breathtaking environments.

Photos of the Week 10/4

Let the skills begin! This week, our three squads split up to head for different partners. Squad 1 is experiencing their Trimester 1 ISP in Monteverde, Squad 2 is off at Rancho Mastatal (with no WiFi, so stay tuned for their photos next week), and Squad 3 is exploring the seas with ConnectOcean and Pacific Coast Dive Center.

Each of our squads will visit all of these partners and learn the abundance of skills offered, which range from permaculture to scuba diving to cooking and everything in between. If this sounds interesting to you, just wait until you see these pictures – you’ll be filled with wanderlust!

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Exploring Costa Rica | Photo By: Carter Tobin
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Getting ready for scuba at Pacific Coast Dive Center | Photo By: Alexandra Johansson
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Josh cooking at his Monteverde ISP | Photo By: Jamie Hackbarth
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Jacob recycling at his Monteverde ISP | Photo By: Jamie Hackbarth
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La Iguana Chocolate Factory | Photo By: Nik Blushi
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Hanging in the hammock | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Making puppy friends | Photo By: Leon Louw
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Fresh ceviche | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Time for a cat nap | Photo By: Hannah Wareham
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Costa Rica | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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At the beach | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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Photos from the farm | Photo By: Peyton Farley
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Cute and cozy | Photo By: Peyton Farley
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Beautiful views | Photo By: Hannah Wareham
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A sight that never gets old | Photo By: Felipe Buitrago

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. It’s never too early to start thinking about your future!

Travel Blogging with Polarsteps

Keeping a travel blog or journal sounds like a fun idea in theory, and the end result is certainly worth it. But there’s a lot of logistics that go into it from creative energy, to supplies like pens, stickers, or WiFi, to the sheer amount of time necessary to devote. So it’s understandable if your goal to track your adventure falls behind.

Luckily, there’s a way to make this process a whole lot easier: Polarsteps. This app, available for free on both the Google Play and Apple stores, does all of the work for you. Reviews describe the setup as easy and intuitive: you simply click to create a new trip and designate a name, summary, dates, and audience. That’s all you have to do!winterline, gap year, polarsteps

As you travel, the app will automatically track your route and make note of the places you visit. As you add photographs and locations, a travel log will auto-populate. And best of all: you don’t need any data or cell coverage for the app to work! Polarsteps uses GPS, which works independently, and the app will sync it’s data when you reach reception or WiFi at the end of the day or week.

On the app’s homepage, you get a summary of your journey so far, complete with number of miles traveled, number of countries and continents visited, how much of the world you’ve seen, how many people you follow, and how many follow you. There are other statistics available as well.winterline, gap year, polarsteps

And of course, no app would be complete without the ability to share your finished product. You can easily share your trip to social media. If you’re looking for a physical representation, you can also order a custom travel book to look back on.winterline, gap year, polarsteps

Feeling inspired yet? You can check out some of the staff picks of trips on their website, like India by Train or World trip by bicycle. Polarsteps is also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Have you used Polarsteps before? If so, share your experience and your trip with us! If not, are there other apps you like for journaling and blogging?

Meet the Field Advisors: Sam Forti

Where are you from originally?

Columbus, Ohio

Why did you choose to become a field advisor?

I’ve always loved the outdoors and wanted to travel. When I found out I could do both, professionally I took my first instructor job and never looked back.

How did you begin teaching/traveling?

My first major travel experience was studying abroad in Mongolia with SIT for one semester in college.

What are you most excited for about Winterline?

SCUBA!

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Sam and his fellow Field Advisors at orientation

What’s the most important thing students and parents should know about you?

I really enjoy helping feel comfortable and confident when it’s their first time in the backcountry or immersed in nature.

What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen or done while traveling?

Getting to track and trail the Big 5 (Elephant, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion, Leopard) and other animals in South Africa.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I’m good at finding four-leaf clovers and can make a flute out of a plastic straw.

Photos of the Week 9/27

Trimester 1 began with our students traveling south to work with Outward Bound Costa Rica. Their 11 days with this amazing partner have just come to an end, but they were full of new adventures, beautiful sights, and challenging skills. From exploring the city of San José and becoming immersed in its culture to technical tree climbing, Spanish language learning, and becoming Wilderness First Aid certified, our students sure have been busy.

Take a look at some of these experiences captured on camera! If you’re interested in seeing more from Outward Bound Costa Rica, you can check them out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Zoe shooting hoops | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Alyssa experiencing Costa Rica | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Costa Rican architecture | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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Waterfall hikes | Photo By: Peyton Farley
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Nik in the waterfall | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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Felipe and Lydia hanging out | Photo By: Peyton Farley
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Liam and Alyssa high five | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Squad 1 playing mini-golf | Photo By: Jacob Rona
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Tropical hikes | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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Justin tree climbing | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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Leon and a feline friend
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Lucas in the rain | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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Sleeping dog | Photo By: Jack Li
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Our students at Outward Bound Costa Rica | Photo By: Outward Bound Costa Rica
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Squad 3 at Outward Bound | Photo By: Outward Bound Costa Rica
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Alyssa tree climbing | Photo By: Veronica Allmon
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University of Costa Rica | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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Veronica and Jamie cheers after their skills | Photo By: Liam Mcilwain
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All smiles for waterfalls | Photo By: Emma Macfayden
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Wilderness First Aid certified | Photo By: Sherly Budiman
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Leon getting bandaged for Wilderness First Aid training | Photo By: Outward Bound Costa Rica
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Wilderness First Aid training | Photo By: Outward Bound Costa Rica

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. It’s never too early to start thinking about your future!

Hostels vs. AirBnB: Where to Stay?

One thing is for sure: young, modern travelers are tending to eschew hotels in favor of hostels or home sharing. But how should you decide where to stay, when? We’ve broken down the main differences between staying in a hostel vs staying in an AirBnB to help you know which will be right for you on your next trip.

Considerations

Privacy and Noise

If you’re someone who can’t function with strangers in your space, a hostel might not be for you. AirBnB is the way to go in order to have private space. Depending on how many people you’re traveling with, you can get your own room or even the entire house/apartment to yourself. If you’re going to be coming in after a long day of travel and you want to fall in bed without having to talk to anyone, AirBnB is a good choice.winterline, gap year, hostel

People

For those traveling alone but looking to meet new adventure buddies, hostels provide a space to interact and connect with like-minded individuals. However, AirBnB is more helpful for immersing yourself in the culture. You’ll be in someone’s actual home, and if the host is there with you, you have a go-to local to ask questions or recommendations from. Additionally, if you’re traveling with more than a few people, you may find that you get more for your money by splitting an apartment than getting a room in a hostel.

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One of our Africa Homestay Families with our Partners, ThinkImpact.

Location

Is there a specific neighborhood you’re looking to stay in? Most cities have more AirBnBs than hostels, meaning you might be more likely to find a place in your ideal area. Transportation factors in here, as well. Many hostels are located in central neighborhoods, near public transportation and tourist attractions. AirBnB allows you to filter by these specifications as well, so you can find accommodation that suits your specific needs and desires from either service!

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Riding the train in Thailand | Brittany Lane

Food

Do you like to cook? Do you think that after exploring your destination, you’ll actually want to come home and cook? If that’s a yes, it may be worthwhile to find an AirBnB that allows you access to a kitchen! This way you can also save money on eating out by making meals in your room.winterline, gap year, cooking

Duration of Stay

If you’re only in town for a night or two, and you know you’ll only be spending time at your accommodation to sleep, these issues may not matter much. In this case, it may just be worthwhile to go wherever’s cheapest!

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After all, you could sleep anywhere | Photo By: Emma Mays

Do you prefer to stay in a hostel or an AirBnB when you travel? If you like to use both, then what’s the tie-breaker for you? Let us know in the comments!

Meet the Field Advisors: Joselin Hernández

Where are you from originally?

I am from Nicaragua, a country full of lakes, volcanoes and beautiful beaches, and warmhearted people. Most of my family still lives there.

Why did you choose to become a field advisor?

I have worked with different organizations focusing on community service, leadership and global education for students abroad. Later in my career I started working on managerial roles & I realized where I could really contribute the most was in the field, working directly with student groups, as a mentor, as a curriculum designer. Winterline was the perfect next step, to be back in the field, to see and experience firsthand with the students the wins, the joys, the challenges and the personal growth that come from international travel.joselin hernandez, winterline, gap year

How did you begin teaching/traveling?

I remember my grandmother taking me on local excursions in Nicaragua, which fed the travel bug inside of me from early on. I decided to do my bachelor’s degree on Tourism Management, with the desire to work on sustainable tourism. I had my first experience abroad when I was 18. I went to Panama on my own for 10 days. I saw the tremendous power travel had on me, pushing me out of my comfort zone & expanding my perspectives on life. 

This trip to Panama motivated me to seek job opportunities where I could facilitate experiential learning experiences for youth abroad, which is how I began working with groups of American students in Nicaragua in 2009. From then on, I have worked in this field in different countries, mostly in Latin America.

What are you most excited for about Winterline?

I believe Winterline is an incredible opportunity for growth in so many areas: personally, professionally, socially. The skills portion of the program makes it worthwhile, and its approach to mentoring students to become increasingly more independent and self-sufficient as the program progresses is incredible. I am excited to try and embrace skills with curiosity, enthusiasm and open-mindedness together with students. I am most excited about Rancho Matastal, where we will be learning natural construction techniques, since this is one of my biggest passions. I have done several workshops on Bamboo and Cobb Building Techniques in the past and want to deepen my knowledge of it.joselin hernandez, winterline, gap year

What’s the most important thing students and parents should know about you?

I am 100% committed to support both the students in this journey, and the local partners in each country that have worked so hard to make each learning piece of the program and incredible experience for the students.

What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen or done while traveling?

Exploring the Ecuadorian Amazon rain forest and being mesmerized by the lush and dense vegetation and diversity of animals, I once saw a panther drinking water from a stream, not so far from me. Interacting with indigenous communities, and their traditions and ceremonies, learning from their plant medicine.joselin hernandez, winterline, gap year

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I speak 4 languages. Spanish is my native language, I learnt English while in high school. Then I moved to France to teach Spanish, where I simultaneously learned French. I went to study Tourism Management and Teachers Training in Austria for 2 years and learned German, which I am still studying. German has been the hardest one to learn.joselin hernandez, winterline, gap year

Photos of the Week 9/20

We are so excited to announce that our 2019-2020 gap year has officially begun! On September 11th, students from all three of our squads met up at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado, for orientation. Each individual squad began their own journey in Costa Rica this week, but it was amazing seeing students from each group bond as one entire Winterline family at orientation.

Below, we’ve chosen some of our favorite photos from Colorado to share with you. Be sure to stay tuned, as we’ll be posting Photos of the Week every Friday for the next 9 months as our squads move across the globe, some going to places Winterline students have never been before. Here’s to the best gap year yet!

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All 3 Winterline squads at orientation! | Photo by: Erica Schultz
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Hiking views
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Bonding bonfires | Photo by: Liam Mcilwain
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Hanging out by the fire | Photo by: Liam Mcilwain
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Long bus rides | Photo by: Liam Mcilwain
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Alyssa and Veronica at the YMCA | Photo by: Liam Mcilwain
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Life looks better from the top | Photo by: Liam Mcilwain
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Shooting hoops | Photo by: Lucas Massolo
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Winterline in nature | Photo by: Eliza Valley
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Pablo jumping for joy | Photo by: Eliza Valley
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Hannah and Peyton showing off the Winterline logo | Photo by: Erica Schultz
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Squad 1 | Photo by: Erica Schultz
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Squad 2 | Photo by: Erica Schultz
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Squad 3 | Photo by: Erica Schultz
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Our incredible Field Advisors | Photo by: Erica Schultz

If you’re interested in living this journey for yourself, apply now for our 2020-2021 gap year. It’s never too early to start thinking about your future!

Monteverde Independent Study Project

When we talk about Independent Study Projects, we often emphasize the Trimester 3 ISP most heavily. After all, this is the project that you spend Trimesters 1 and 2 planning and gearing up for. It’s the biggest taste of independence, and one of the most unique parts of a Winterline gap year. However, did you know that during the first trimester, you get an ISP, too?

In Monteverde, Costa Rica, our students get to participate in an ISP that’s a little more structured since it occurs so early. While no two students can participate in the same Trimester 3 ISP, students may work side-by-side in their Trimester 1 ISP. However, there’s only one student per homestay family.  That’s right; in Trimester 3, students find their own ISP accommodations. But in Trimester 1, students are placed with a local family. This allows you to become immersed in the cultural experience, connect with new people, and learn even more skills.

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Homestay family

There’s a long list of potential Trimester 1 ISPs that students get to pick from. Below we’ve highlighted just a few of the possibilities to give you a glimpse of how much Monteverde has to offer!

  • Coffee – Farm to Cup
    • If you can’t start your day without caffeine, you’ll love this experience. Students will learn and practice the process that coffee goes through from seed to cup. This includes fertilizing soil; picking, washing, and drying coffee; running sample roasts; and even preparing espressos!

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      Grinding coffee beans
  • Handcrafted Paper
    • We use paper all the time, but have you ever really considered how it’s made? Now, you can learn how to turn pulp into paper. Not only will you get to create the pulp and screen it into paper, but you’ll take it to the next step and learn bookbinding!

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      Screening paper
  • Horsemanship
    • Animal lovers, this one’s for you. Learn how to take care of horses the Costa Rican way. First, you’ll get a basic lesson in horseback riding. From here, you’ll tackle feeding and washing, checking and cleaning equipment, and even shoeing and training the horses! Once you’ve got this down, you can improve your riding skills on a horse tour.winterline, gap year, monteverde, horse
  • Medicinal Plants
    • Herbalism is both an art and a science, meaning this ISP can appeal to anyone. You can pick up botanical vocabulary and learn how to identify plants, as well as their medicinal properties and herbal actions. Once you know what they do, you can use them to prepare teas and other products!winterline, gap year, monteverde, plants
  •  Traditional Cooking with Local Crops
    • The best way to understand another culture is to eat their food. Not only will you learn to prepare Costa Rican cuisine, but you’ll do so using fresh and local food produce, like yuca, corn, and guava. Each day, you’ll learn about the ingredient, what you can make out of it, and taste its flavor.

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      Cooking in Costa Rica

Remember, these are just five of our 30 ISP possibilities! If you were going to Monteverde today, which ISP would you pick? Is there anything in Costa Rica that you’d love to get hands-on experience in that we haven’t listed? Let us know!

Meet the Field Advisors: Carlos Gustavo Moriera-Alvarez

Where are you from originally?

I am originally from Costa Rica, I was raised in the mountains of Heredia Province, surrounded by wonderful landscapes and coffee fields all around. I now live in London, but will move soon to Canada.

Why did you choose to become a field advisor?

I decided to become a Field Advisor because I got to meet 3 WL students 2 years ago when I designed one of the ISP they enrolled in Monteverde. I liked the spirit they had, I loved the way they were just trying to figure out their lives and I wanted to be a part of it since they all told me that they would like me to lead along their side. I wanted to be able to inspire and help them reach their goals and potential.

How did you begin teaching/traveling?

I started teaching when I was 20, I was traveling and doing a lot of grassroots development back then… I got to work in with students in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Panama. I taught in tough urban and rural, same as for indigenous and afro communities within those countries. I wanted to change the world back then, that spark of altruism started my travels. Then, with time, the rest of South America, some of Europe and Asia as well.

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Carlos at the YMCA of the Rockies for Orientation

What are you most excited for about Winterline?

I am excited about the possibility to create a positive impact in the lives of the students in a way that allows them to discover their path, what may like or not, and to get a general idea of themselves and their role in life.

What’s the most important thing students and parents should know about you?

I am going to push them to their limits, I intend to get them to grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually, I will share with them what implies critical thinking and cultural understanding. I love to talk, I smile a lot, I am also a very peaceful person. They can always reach out and find someone that will listen to them, to try to understand what they may be feeling and experiencing.

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Carlos and the other FAs at Orientation

What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen or done while traveling?

There is no way to sum this up with words nor within one sole experience. I lived on the riverside communities scouting the Amazon river all the way from Iquitos (Perú) to Manaos (Brazil). I have done skydiving over the Iguazú waterfalls during sunset. I hicked/ran the Inka Trail towards Machu Picchu. I did 12h trecking over a glacier in Patagonia (Argentina) after backpacking for 300+ km. I backpacked for 1 year between Europe and Asia without a paddle, just figuring out what I wanted to do along the way. Hitchhiked/boat-hiked allover Philippines and then lead a group of volunteer teachers from diverse nationalities. There’s a lot out there in the world, these are a few of the things I remember.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I am very goofy! And I love (in a crazy way) nature and wild animals that are not from the ecosystems I grew up in, therefore I will be with a sense of awe and wonder in these new places… just like a child.

Meeting my Winterline Coworkers

Winterline staff members are spread out across the world – from Southeast Asia, to Latin America, to various cities in the United States. In some ways, this distance is amazing. It allows us to have regional experts in the locations that our students visit, and it means someone is available for assistance in every time zone. However, by far the biggest downside of this distance is that it’s difficult for our staff members to spend time together in person.

There are coworkers I’ve spoken to almost every day for the past two years over the phone, through text, or on a video call – yet we’d never met in person. That is, until September 3rd, when the majority of our office staff met up in Winter Park, Colorado for a staff retreat! We flew in from across the world, with our farthest staff member coming in from Cambodia and our nearest arriving from other parts of Colorado. We also got to spend time with a few members of our sister organization, Thinking Beyond Borders.

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Colorado views

Now, “work retreat” might sound like an oxymoron to some people, but for many of us, this time together only solidified our passion for Winterline. By far the highlight of these days was getting to know my coworkers on a deeper level! We covered all the basics that just don’t come up over meetings: where people are from, where they went to college, whether they have siblings. But we also got to connect much further. I learned what the perfect day for my coworkers would look like, which values they hold most esteemed, and what their individual goals for the year are.

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All smiles from Ashley, our Director of Student Services, and Cara, our VP of Sales and Marketing

We sat around and talked, of course, to figure this out, but I also learned a lot about my coworkers through our activities! We participated in a ropes course, just like our students do at orientation. This day was so much fun and it was so inspiring to see how each and every person gave their all. We took risks, we supported each other, and we celebrated each other’s accomplishments. Yet, no one pressured each other to go faster or to complete a course that was too challenging for that individual. This balance of respect for each other’s boundaries and encouragement to push each other to do our best came naturally to our team, and is something that reflects in our workplace relationships, as well.

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Our Admissions Advisor Nora conquering the ropes course

I think it’s important for you, our students and families, to understand this aspect of our company. Comprehending what goes on behind the scenes or picturing who the individuals are that make up Winterline is hard. Even I have had trouble comprehending this information at times, being separated from the rest of the team!

But let me tell you this: I already knew that Winterline is made up of the most dedicated, passionate individuals. From this staff retreat, I learned that this work ethic comes from strength, diversity, and integrity in my our personal lives. Having a team composed of such well-rounded people allows us to offer a program that allows you or your student to grow and learn, take risks and challenge yourself, and become your best self.

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Showing some love to our coworkers!

I’m already looking forward to our next retreat. And if you have the chance to talk to any of our incredible staff members, whether it’s about work or not, take us up on it! We’re always happy to meet you, support you, and help you figure out what the right path is for you.

Meet the Field Advisors: Jamie Hackbarth

Where are you from originally?

Columbus, Ohio! Most recently I call home Denver, Colorado.

Why did you choose to become a field advisor?

I choose to become a field advisor because I believe in the transformational power of experiential education. I experienced the positive impacts of learning outside of the walls of the classroom and want to share that experience with young people today to shape and expand their worldview.

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Hiking Mont Fitz Roy in Patagonia

How did you begin teaching/traveling?

I began traveling during high school down to Honduras to assist at an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS. This experience made me hungry to keep learning from other cultures and people from different life experiences, which led me to study abroad throughout Central America and Barcelona, Spain. After college, I served with the Peace Corps in rural Peru, which is where I began teaching and mentoring young adults. I continued my teaching over the past several years with the State of Colorado by leading educational programs for entrepreneurs and small business owners. I continue to travel for personal growth reasons throughout the world every year and am excited to do so with Winterline!

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Holding Nala in her Peace Corps community in Peru (brought home the dog!)

What are you most excited for about Winterline?

I am most excited to share my passion about global experiential education with students, and mentor them through this process.

What’s the most important thing students and parents should know about you?

I truly believe in the power of authenticity, and bringing that to grow and learn from every experience and person you encounter.

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Kayaking through Chicago

What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen or done while traveling?

Sky-diving over the Great Barrier Reef and exploring the Amazon Jungle with locals!

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

As a kid, I used to perform in half-time college basketball games as a mini ‘Harlem Globetrotter’! Ask me how to spin a ball on your finger.

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Hanging out in Machu Picchu

Why You Should Learn Spanish on Your Gap Year

Learning a new language can be intimidating. We worry about our pronunciation, grammar rules, speaking too slowly…and that’s when we know the right words! But learning a new language is also unbelievably rewarding, and worth the work it takes. Here’s 7 reasons that we incorporate Spanish language learning into our gap year.

Learning is best in-context

We always strive to embed our programs into the contexts where they’d best be learned. Why not learn SCUBA diving at a coral reef, rather than a swimming pool? Why not learn about sustainable energy at some of the premiere institutions in Europe? Learning Spanish is the same. The meanings within the grammar and the motivation for learning itself come together quickly and more naturally in context, such as at a homestay in Panama. We’re all about deep learning experiences.

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Winterline students at a homestay in Panama | Photo By: Maria O’Neal

Ability to communicate with other people

Spanish is spoken by over four hundred million people world wide, which makes it the second most spoken language in the world after Mandarin Chinese. Spanish is the main official language for twenty-one different countries, which makes it one of the most useful travel languages out there. If you study it at the start of your gap year, think of all the doors that might open for you along the way.

Appreciation of more cultures

There’s often no better way to learn about the intricacies of a culture than to learn the ways people express themselves verbally. Even from region to region, variations in speech can tell you an enormous amount about the ways others see the world. Learning Spanish during your gap year can open up encounters with people that might forever change your life for the better, increasing access to the culture on an immediate scale.

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Being welcomed by the children of El Cocal | Photo By: Brittany Lane

It makes you more hireable

Whether you’re interested in management, sales, marketing, banking, or telecommunications, Spanish-speaking ability is becoming one of the fastest growing job needs in the world. We have nothing against students getting great jobs in fast growing industries.

Helps you understand your own language better

This one is not unique to Spanish per se, but learning a foreign language often provides a much deeper appreciation for your own native language, and of the sensibilities and idiosyncracies of the lengua franca in which you grew up, especially your own grammar. For example, why can you say three cups in English, but not three milks?

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Students painting Spanish signs in Panama | Photo By: Maria O’Neal

Because its cool

Speaking Spanish is awesome. Ben Affleck, Maya Angelou, David Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Matt Damon all speak it, even though its not their native tongue. Plus, you probably have friends who speak Spanish. Wouldn’t you want to know when they’re sharing secrets with each other?

It keeps your brain active

There are many documented advantages to bilingualism. But even if you’re not a young child or concerned about the long-term effects of aging on the human mind, speaking another language can really sharpen your mind, and help you keep bringing your A-Game to whatever you do.

It will help you get ahead when you get to college

Most colleges and universities have language requirements. They used to be Latin, but thankfully, these days you get to choose. A solid foreign language foundation often allows you to ‘test out’ of the foreign language requirement, or at least skip basic intro classes. This saves time and gives you the opportunity to focus on all the things you want to do.

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Students in Costa Rica | Photo By: Maria O’Neal

Interested in learning Spanish and other skills on your gap year? Check out our skills list and itineraries for an idea of what a Winterline gap year entails!

Location Spotlight: Hanifl Centre

Hanifl Centre, an outreach of the Woodstock School in Mussoorie, India, is an outdoor education center in the Himalaya where Winterline students stay during Trimester 2 of their gap year. 

The centre’s full name is The Hanifl Centre for Outdoor Education and Environmental Study, and it was established in 2003 by Woodstock School alumni Suzanne and Paul Hanifl. The Hanifl’s founded the centre as a way to expand upon skills and knowledge of outdoor education for students and visitors alike.

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Photo By: Emma Mays

To pursue this mission, the Hanifl Centre offers a catalogue of courses ranging from just a few days in length to an entire semester abroad. Some of these courses are on topics like Wilderness First Aid. The Hanifl Centre defines wilderness as “ being an hour away from definitive medical care, which makes it relevant to most rural and urban settings in India.” The Outdoor Leadership Course is another example, which covers two main topics: leadership and outdoor skills. Some of the focuses here are conflict management and risk management, as well as functional map reading, ropes skills, and Leave No Trace ethics.

So what does a visit to the Hanifl Centre look like for a Winterline student? Hanifl Centre’s campus has both a dormitory and classrooms stocked with resources for learning, scientific equipment, and outdoors gear. In order to be environmentally friendly, the building utilizes a passive solar space-heating system and an active solar water-heating system!hanifl centre, india, winterline, gap year

Over your two week stay on campus, you’ll hone a variety of skills, starting off with a multi-day course in disaster medicine. Once you’re confident in these skills, you and your peers will take off on a week-long trek in the Himalayan Mountains! Finally, to wind down from your adventure, you’ll finish off with another multi-day course in which you practice yoga and meditation.

Interested in having this experience for yourself? Join us next year to visit Hanifl Centre and so many more partners on our 2020 gap year!

Meet the Field Advisors: Devin Duffy

Where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in Colorado: in Denver and then I moved to Centennial at a very young age.

Why did you choose to become a field advisor?

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Alta, Utah

I love to travel, especially with a small group of like minded individuals with common goals and aspirations.

How did you begin teaching/traveling?

Just after college I took a semester in Kenya with NOLS, and then was invited on another NOLS course (Outdoor Educators course in Tanzania) with 12 East Africans and just 4 Americans. These experiences had a profound impact on me.  From there my path was somewhat clear that I wanted to pursue a life in outdoor/experiential education. The very next summer I started working for “Adventures Cross Country” and did so for the next six consecutive summers leading mostly international trips.  Through these experiences I fell in love with teaching and traveling.

What are you most excited for about Winterline?

Everything really! Especially the nature of learning through doing, as well as the variety of the skills students will acquire on this experience.

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Sri Lanka

What’s the most important thing students and parents should know about you?

The most important thing that I would want Winterline students and parents to know about me is that I am very safety conscious. When it comes to managing risk I am a big proponent of “prevention” being the best medicine, however if an injury or accident does occur, I will do my best to administer the proper care as a certified Wilderness First Responder, both physically and emotionally.

What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen or done while traveling?

Wow, tough question… I would have to say that the most riveting realization is that in my 5 seasons working in the Indian Himalayas with NOLS I experienced within the communities we trekked through is how the people with the least amount of wealth or personal possessions are the ones to openly give the most.  People who are way below any poverty line give vegetables they’ve grown, offer chai and a place to stay, and expect absolutely nothing in return.  It’s simply amazing and heart wrenching at the same time.

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Indian host family

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I have traveled to all seven continents, and earned a paycheck on six of them. So one of my next goals is to work in Africa.

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Everest base camp

Why Your Parents Worry about a Gap Year

One of the most common questions we get asked is, “how do I convince my parents to let me go on a gap year?” We get it. Parents and guardians want what’s best for their children. And sometimes, what’s best is a gap year! So how do you explain that to them and balance your own needs with theirs? You can anticipate some of the questions your parents may have and come prepared with answers to satisfy them.

“How are we going to afford it?”

There’s a misconception that gap years are only for the rich. While some programs are expensive, breaking down the costs makes a sticker price more palatable. For example, we understand that the $55,000 cost for Winterline can be shocking at first. But this payment is all-inclusive, meaning it covers your skills and program fees, travel and lodging within the program, food, emergency medical and evacuation insurance, and other related expenses. Additionally, many programs including our own, offer scholarships and work-study opportunities to bring down the cost. It’s also worth considering that a Winterline gap year is roughly equivalent to the cost of a year’s tuition at a private university. We believe that you’ll get more out of your gap year, especially if you’re not yet sure that college is for you. Of course, Winterline isn’t the only option. Other programs offer different lengths or destinations for lower prices. You can also design your own gap year to fit your specific needs. Financial management service Mint offers a gap year guide to help you explore your options. You can also find a list of non-program specific scholarships through the Gap Year Association website. winterline, gap year

“Is it safe?”

Don’t roll your eyes when your parents ask! It can be daunting for them to look at a long list of countries you want to visit, especially when they know little about the countries or have only heard negative mentions. But Winterline is fully committed to maintaining student safety and keeping risks to a minimum. Our program is accredited by the Gap Year Association for upholding these standards. We hire Field Advisors who are familiar with the regions of the world to which you travel, and have both Travel Medicine First Responder and Wilderness First Responder certifications. Each of our partners have been carefully vetted before we work with them. Additionally, our field staff are in constant communications with our headquarters and always have access to local authorities and emergency personnel. We do everything in our power to ensure student safety and happiness!winterline, gap year

“Won’t it be a waste of time?”

A gap year is about taking space to learn about yourself, your passions, your strengths and weaknesses, the world around you, and how you fit into that world. Does that sound like a waste of time to you? Emphasize that on a program like Winterline, a gap year isn’t about lying around in bed all day. You’ll be out in the world, meeting people with different world views, experiencing new cultures, attempting skills out of your comfort zone or purview. You’ll be learning and growing every single day. What better way could you possibly spend your time? Even if you decide against a program in favor of working, taking non-traditional classes, or traveling, you’ll be discovering new things about yourself. You’ll have a better understanding of who you are and what you want in the future. This means you may actually be less likely to waste time in the future studying something you don’t love or working a job that you’re not cut out for.winterline, gap year

“Won’t you fall behind academically?”

A worry for both parents and students is that if you take a year off from traditional school, you won’t want to return afterward. The first thing to remember here is that there’s no set timeline on education. Just because some of your peers go straight from high school to college and graduate in four years, doesn’t mean you will or have to! Working at your own pace is the best way to succeed. And studies actually show that gap year students outperform other students, both immediately after their gap experience and over the entire four-year college duration. Students report that taking a gap year helped them to figure out their interests, and therefore are more satisfied in their majors and careers.winterline, gap year

Now’s the time to talk to your parents! Explain to them why you want to take a gap year, how you think it will benefit you, and what your ideal gap year would look like. Still need some more help? Our Director of Outreach and Recruitment, Erica, and our Admissions Advisor, Nora, are always happy to chat with families about their particular situations and concerns. Send us an email at admissions@winterline.com or give a call to 1-888-737-4226!

Location Spotlight: Cape Leopard Trust

With the introduction of our new Itinerary 2 option to travel to Rwanda and Africa on a gap year comes the introduction of new partners in these countries. We’re thrilled to be able to add Cape Leopard Trust to our long list of exceptional partners around the world!

The Cape Leopard Trust, formed in 2004, is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that promotes research on and conservation of the Cape mountain leopard and other natural predators.

There’s little known about many of these predators, so in order to keep an eye on the species, Cape Leopard Trust uses cameras with movement sensors to capture footage in the Cederburg Mountains. Further, to monitor the leopards, they’re trapped and tagged with GPS radio collars before being released back into the wild. Fun fact: like human fingerprints, no two leopards have the exact same spot pattern! This makes it possible to identify individual animals and estimate an area’s population size. cape leopard trust, winterline, gap year

Though these leopards are not a threat to humans, they do prey on sheep. This causes problems for farmers and their livestock. Cape Leopard Trust understands that sometimes farmers are desperate because attempts to protect their livestock are not working, but they also understand that leopards are simply following their very nature by preying. Killing all the predators is not sustainable, practical, or effective. So Cape Leopard Trust is trying to find a solution that allows sheep and leopards to coexist.

When you visit Cape Leopard Trust on your Winterline gap year, you’ll be doing more than just learning about conservation in theory. You’ll work in the bush and learn about the Cape Leopard in the only place in the world where they’re found. With this partner, you’ll learn about using camera traps to find these animals, how to extrapolate the data to determine migratory patterns and territory, and use this information to work towards conservation of the species.cape leopard, winterline, gap year

If you’re interested in learning more about the research that Cape Leopard Trust conducts, you can find plenty of information on their website. If you’re inclined to support their endeavors, you can also donate to the organization! But as we all know, the best way to learn is by doing. So if the work and goals of Cape Leopard Trust intrigue you, you should apply now to join us in South Africa and become a part of this effort for yourself.

Meet the Field Advisors: Ellen Molander

Where are you from originally?

I am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Why did you choose to become a field advisor?

After many years as a classroom teacher working in international education I began to feel stagnant and stuck. I wanted to continue working in education with students, but in a different capacity, outside of the classroom. I am passionate about travel, social emotional learning, self discovery and hands on skills based learning. My search for a new career path within education brought me to experiential ed, leading summer programs for high school students. It was through this work that I discovered gap year programs and began leading semesters.winterline, gap year, ellen molander

How did you begin teaching/traveling?

I studied Early Childhood Education in University and began my teaching career in the traditional classroom setting. Having always regretted not studying abroad, after my first year of teaching, I began looking for international teaching opportunities. It was then that I packed up and moved to Guatemala to teach 3rd and 4th grade. Upon arrival I was immediately bit by the travel bug! Fast forward 11 years and I’ve never looked back. I’ve lived, taught or traveled on nearly every contenent.

What are you most excited for about Winterline?

I truly believe that travel has the ability to break down barriers, change perspectives, and open hearts and minds. I am excited to share this journey with students while traveling through Latin America, a region that has become my home over the last 11 years and is near and dear to my heart. winterline, gap year, ellen molander

What’s the most important thing students and parents should know about you?

Thats a hard one! I love to laugh and have fun. I’m extremely compassionate and caring and dedicated to what I do. I don’t believe in living inside the “box”

What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen or done while traveling?

So hard to pick! While living and working in East Africa I had the opportunity to see so many incredible animals in the wild. Something that I never dreamed I would do in my life. In Uganda we tracked white rhino on foot, in Zanzibar I swam with wild dolphins in the Indian Ocean, and in Tanzania I went on countless safaris and saw more animals than I ever thought possible.winterline, gap year, ellen molander

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I am a certified yoga teacher. When I’m not leading student groups you can find me in my mat practicing or leading classes. winterline, gap year, ellen molander

Learning to Manage Social Stress

The beginning of the school year can be a terrifying time for the teenage mind. New expectations, new routines, and worst of all, new friends, all combine to create the perfect storm of social anxiety.

Going into college prepared means having learned these skills to a ‘T’. Students who can effectively navigate social settings, and manage conflicts are in the best position for success in college.winterline, gap year

New research highlighted in the New York Times from David S. Yeager, ‘a leading voice in the growing effort to help college students stay in school,’ and Carol Dweck, famous for her work with growth and fixed mindsets, have pointed to teens’ ability to learn social anxiety coping strategies. One can teach students these skills; they’re not permanent predilections.

Critical to the research, teenage depression is at nearly 11 percent, and many teenagers battle high stress daily. Despite that, research sees rates of coping skills as “weak.”

At Winterline, we’ve structured all of our gap year programs to be heavily oriented toward these peer-related skills, skills that we see as essential for life, career, and work in the 21st century. From the start or our program, students practice team-building and leadership skills, non-violent communication, and conflict mediation. Throughout their months abroad, experienced Field Advisors lead by example. Students observe how to navigate conflict, negotiate, bargain, and empathize with peers and colleagues.winterline, gapyear

Dr. Yeager’s suggestion that students learn ways to “hold onto a long view” is exactly what we teach during our Global Skills Programs. When you travel the world and learn skills in their appropriate context, you immediately begin to connect the dots between what you’re doing on a daily basis and the impacts you can have in the world.

The gap year is the perfect opportunity to distance yourself and recalibrate. Doing so will help you figure out what you’re good at and how you want to impact the world.winterline, gap year, instagramwinterline, gap year, instagram

Meet the Field Advisors: Felipe Buitrago

Where are you from originally?

I am from Bogota, the capital of Colombia, situated in the middle of the Andes.

Why did you choose to become a field advisor?

It excites me to be back in the “field’” once again and witness the power of other ways of learning unfolding through transformational experiences. I think that as an FA I’ll be able to support young people to articulate, in action and in conversation, the narratives of their own journey.felipe buitrago, winterline, gap year

How did you begin teaching/traveling?

My teaching career started back in 2010 at Earlham College, as a Language and Literature program assistant for the Latin American and Spanish department. During that time I was able to support curriculum, lesson plans, and developed collaborative research with faculty.

Traveling has been a part of my life ever since I was granted a scholarship to finish the International Baccalaureate school diploma at a boarding school in Montezuma, NM. Continuing, with my undergraduate education in a small liberal arts school in Richmond, IN, followed by an MA in Outdoor Education; a program between universities in the UK, Norway and Germany. Currently, I live and work for an international school in Berlin, Germany.

What are you most excited for about Winterline?

I’m thrilled to be part of an organization that is able to imagine and encourage other ways of learning. I believe that Winterline’s exposure to different skills, scenarios, environments, and cultures is key in a course of imagining new processes of active learning and self-discovery.felipe buitrago, winterline, gap year

What’s the most important thing students and parents should know about you?

I feel honored to be part and accompany the journey of a group of students that choose to explore their curiosity, step beyond their comfort zone, and acknowledge their privilege while preparing for life.

What’s the most incredible thing you’ve seen or done while traveling?

Tracking a pack of wolves in Yellowstone National Park (Lamar Valley) in a research study back in 2010. For four weeks I was able to learn about and understand the effect on the overall health and impact of the reintroduction of the wolves into the ecosystem of the park.felipe buitrago, winterline, gap year

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I’m a big fan of urban gardening. Currently growing in my small balcony: Green beans, a pumpkin, avocado trees, figs, tomatoes, strawberries, coffee, pepper, sweet potato, and two beautiful cucumbers.felipe buitrago, winterline, gap year

Does a Gap Year Improve Study Habits?

Studies gathered by the American Gap Association show that taking a gap year can improve grade point averages for returning students and solidify academic major and career choices. A 2011 study at Middlebury College, conducted by its former dean of admissions Robert Clagett, found that students who had taken a year off had consistently higher GPAs than those who didn’t. How can a gap year actually improve a student’s study skills and academic performance?

Developing practical and applicable skills.

Structure and problem-solving are just two of the many skills necessary for developing good study habits. When a student chooses a structured gap year they will learn time management, effective communication, and critical-thinking throughout the program. Many gap year students will also volunteer and work during their gap year program, which also requires organization and problem-solving. These tasks will help improve their discipline, attention to detail, and study skills over time before entering college.winterline, gap year, study

A sense of purpose and focus.

Academic burnout is one reason students consider taking gap years. Many high school students say they chose a gap year because they needed a break from studying. After taking a gap year, students say they have a greater sense of purpose in their studies and their career choice. Taking a gap year exposes students to new experiences, new cultures, and new environments. Therefore students have a better view of the world and what career choice and educational path they want to pursue. With a sense of purpose, students admit they study more and study harder with career focus.winterline, gap year, study

Maturity and self-awareness.

Gap years force students to mature, learn the language, and become independent adults. Students become aware of their surroundings, of the culture and the people, and of their own ability to solve problems on their own. All of these life experiences, again, lead to improved study skills and academic performance.winterline, gap year, study

There are so many positive reasons why students should consider a gap year between high school and college. Developing practical life skills leads to improved study habits, a sense of true purpose, and  maturity.

7 Reasons to Go to Cambodia

When you’re thinking of travel destinations this year, why not think outside the box? A Winterline gap year offers you unique options. Stand out from the crowd and learn about a beautiful country you might not otherwise consider: Cambodia. We still have a few spots left on our 2019 Itinerary 1 gap year, and our 2020 applications will be opening soon, so get ready to visit with us!

  1. Our trip focuses on interpersonal skills and communication. Maybe you’ve been having trouble getting along with people. Maybe school’s so overwhelming that you need a reminder of the bigger purpose. Maybe you’re trying to learn more about yourself. All of these issues will be touched upon.
  2. Learn about conflict and see how it leaves a lasting mark. From the late 1960s until the 1990s, Cambodia was under the rule of the oppressive Khmer Rouge. While the regime ended long ago, its destruction has left an impact on Cambodia’s citizen today. Visiting Cambodia will teach you first-hand about a history you don’t know. It will also enforce the importance of learning to keep peace, and you’ll be able to pay homage to the country’s losses, helping them move forward.
  3. You’ll get to see the beauty of Angkor Wat, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. The temple complex is the largest religious site in the world. These ancient buildings are not only breathtaking, but full of history you don’t usually learn in class.
  4. Cambodian culture is unlike any other. From the dance, to the cuisine, to the religion, Cambodia is vibrant in color and experience.  
  5. Visitors often say that Cambodians are some of the kindest people in the world. Despite a recent painful past, the people have an infectious and inspiring spirit. The best way to learn about a country is by hearing what its native people have to say. Go to Cambodia and listen to people’s stories. It’ll help you understand more about this country than you could learn from any textbook.
  6. Experience the liveliness of a Cambodian market. Various types of goods pack full bustling stalls. Shopping at one of these markets is not only exciting, but will give you a glimpse into daily life.
  7. The country is more than just its temples. Siem Reap has a diverse nightlife scene, while Phnom Penh is lauded for its cultural renaissance and world-class dining. Battambang is up-and-coming, notably for its architecture and contemporary art scenes.

Going to Cambodia means you’ll get to disconnect from the fast-pace of life. The beauty, the religion, the solemn history, and the kind people of the country will remind you what life is really about. Learning about loss and tragedy is difficult, but it’s important for moving forward. This visit to Cambodia will be both a physical and spiritual journey, as you recognize how to connect and communicate with both other people and your own self.

New Student Spotlight: Darshil Dholakia

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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WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

Surat, India

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 have heard about students taking a gap year to do some internship or some job but after exploring Winterline, I got a new understanding of gap year and what all things we can do in a year. Darshil Dholakia, winterline, gap year

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

 I planned to take a gap year as it will help me explore myself and the world.

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I am interested in cars, so I am excited about driving with BMW. Also, technology drives my life, so I’m very much keen to learn about robotics and stuff.Darshil Dholakia, winterline, gap year

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

I will be joining my family business wherein we cut and polish rough diamonds. We have expanded into the IT industry so will be joining into that sector.

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

I have been to many countries in Europe, UK, New Zealand, US, Canada, Thailand, etc. I have also been on cruise ship journeys. My favourite trip was of the Canadian Rockies with family. It was an amazing experience between the mountains and the forests. The best place was Lake Louise. It was all blues and greens. Darshil Dholakia, winterline, gap year

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

As the program is big enough and has lots of things to learn and explore, I don’t know what I expect, but whatever I get, it will be a life long experience and learning.

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

This is a tough part for me. I am a bit of a shy guy and introvert trying to express myself. So I’m hoping to make new friends.Darshil Dholakia, winterline, gap year

WHY WINTERLINE?

It provides a range of countries to experience. The way they planned the itinerary and the learnings from each place is amazing. It gives me what I want, i.e. experience, growth, travelling and exploring.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I love listening to music. Whenever I feel lonely, I start listening. I listen to music while I am doing my projects as well. I am a tech geek. I am a pilot by hobby.

Darshil Dholakia, winterline, gap year

What’s in Your Carry-On?: Winterline Staff Edition

Our Winterline staff are no strangers to travel. Former Field Advisors, expats, and general travel enthusiasts alike, we’ve all had our fair share of long flights. So to help you figure out what’s most important to pack in your carry-on bag, I asked our seasoned travelers to share the items they wouldn’t be caught without.

Nora

Admissions Advisorwinterline, gap year, travel, earbuds

Headphones!!! I’d lose my mind without them. Lately, I have Netflix episodes downloaded to watch during the flight. A change of clothes or two in case something happens with my luggage. A snack if I can remember-usually a granola bar. I hate flying, so for me I’ve found that music/podcast/Netflix is a better distraction than a book, which is why I don’t really read on the plane.

Erica

Director of Outreach and Recruitmentwinterline, gap year, travel, cash

Cash on hand. What if your credit cards don’t work? Did you forget to put a travel notification on it? Cash is ol’ reliable. Plus, it’s super quick and easy to walk up to a currency exchange in your destination airport and change currencies so you can immediately have local cash on hand. But make sure your cash on hand is made up of crisp bills! In many countries if your bills are torn a little or worn out too much, they won’t take it, including currency exchanges. Get crisp new bills from the bank or an ATM before you leave!

Cara

Vice President of Sales and Marketingwinterline, gap year, travel, book

Always food for me! Plus a book (old fashioned!), a sweater or scarf in case the plane is chilly, and  extra phone charger.

Matt

Chief Risk Officer

winterline, gap year, travel,

A battery pack for phone and a SIM card case to make sure I don’t lose the sim from my home country carrier.

Ashley

Director of Student Services

winterline, gap year, travel,

A phone charger/battery bank and first aid kit, and a bandanna because they are versatile and come in handy for various things

Eileen

Director of Programswinterline, gap year, travel, dark chocolate

I would say a book or my kindle and some dark chocolate.

Nick

Presidentwinterline, gap year, wild sage, carry-on

I always travel with something from home; a rock, some sage, or a piece of jewelry from home (thus the Navajo turquoise earring I wear). I also always have 2-3 pairs of headphones so I can listen to music and podcasts.

Allie

Marketing Coordinatorwinterline, gap year, travel, crossword

I don’t go anywhere without a book, whether it’s downloaded on my phone or a physical copy. I also like a good crossword book to keep me busy, and headphones of course!

Susu

Country Director for Costa Rica

winterline, gap year, travel, pen

I always have a pen!!! You never know when you’ll need a pen, and it’s soooo great to have on hand.

 

Are we missing out on something handy that you like to keep in your carry-on bag? Let us know in the comments! And if you’re looking for a comprehensive packing list, we’ve got that covered, too.

7 Ways to Save Money while Traveling

There’s a feeling of relief and excitement once you’ve finally saved up enough money to book a flight for the trip you’ve been dreaming of. But it’s important to keep an eye on your finances in regards to the rest of your vacation, too. From accommodations to food to experiences, you want to do the most while spending the least. Here’s a few ways to make that happen.

  1. Hostels and home-sharing sites are your friend. On a Winterline gap year, your group accommodations are included in the program cost. But if you’re traveling on your own, don’t go straight for a hotel. Hostels and sites like AirBnB or VRBO are cheaper and have the added benefit of immersing you more directly in the local culture. You’ll get more of a chance to interact with people who actually live in the area and can give you tips and recommendations to make the most of your stay.winterline, gap year, homestay
  2. Do your research on admissions prices for museums and other institutions. Museums are often a must-see to get a taste of the culture, art, and history. You shouldn’t have to miss out because you can’t afford the trip. Many museums in Europe, for example, offer free or discounted tickets for not just students but young adults up to 25! A lot of museums also offer free admission on a certain night of the month, if you can work it out so that your visit overlaps. winterline, gap year, museum
  3. Look for free activities, too! There’s plenty of equally stimulating and cultural activities that you can participate in for no cost. Check out community calendars, look on Facebook, or ask a local to find out what’s going on in the area.
  4. Use the public transportation! Calling a cab may be tempting, but taking a bus, train, or even tuk-tuk will be gentler on your wallet. Even better, again, using the public transportation will give you a more authentic experience of the country you’re in. Maybe you’ll strike up a conversation with the person next to, find a hidden gem at a random stop, or have a fun story to tell your friends. You may also find that an overnight bus or train is much cheaper than a flight and will get you to your destination all the same.winterline, gap year, tuktuk, money
  5. Don’t eat out for every meal. If you have a kitchen, you should try to take advantage and prepare your own food, even if it’s just one meal a day! However, you can save money on food even if you don’t have a kitchen to cook for yourself. There’s plenty of light meals and snacks you can make without a stove: buy food at the grocery store or the local market for breakfast or an outdoor picnic. When you do go out to eat, try to stick to the local places instead of the tourist traps.student_eating_street_food_portrait
  6. Invest in a filtered water bottle. You may have to spend on it up front, but in the long run, you’ll save money refilling your water instead of buying new bottles all day in countries where the tap water isn’t safe for tourists to drink.
  7. Keep track of your spending. Oftentimes we aren’t aware of just how much we’re spending each day. Use a spreadsheet, a notebook, or an app, and take a few minutes at the end of each day to review how much money you spent that day and what you spent it on. This will help you realize if you’re spending too much on food, for example, so tomorrow you’ll know to pack more snacks and avoid eating out. This will also help you prioritize what’s most important to you and therefore worth spending a little more on.winterline, gap year, money

How do you manage your spending while traveling? Are there any tips you’d recommend for fellow adventurers?

 

New Student Spotlight: Lucas Massolo

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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WHERE ARE YOU FROM?

I was born in Santiago, Chile, but only lived there for about three months. I have been living in Miami, Florida for around 19 years now.

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 mom’s best friend’s son runs a gap year program up in Massachusetts which I visited 3 years ago. From then on I knew I wanted to do something like it.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

After completing my first year of college I realized that I wasn’t ready to continue on the same path. I wasn’t feeling very motivated to excel in a certain area and I was missing adventure.

winterline, gap year, lucas massolo

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I am most excited to learn how to scuba dive in Costa Rica. I have always had a passion for the ocean and it will be very interesting to learn more about it.

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

I don’t have an exact idea, but I would love to do something along the lines of music, videography, photography, and saving the environment.

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

My favorite trip was to Barcelona. You can be at the beach, in the mountains, and in the city all in one day. And you can eat the best food in the world on the move.winterline, gap year, lucas massolo

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

I expect to gain responsibility, motivation, and friendship from the gap year program.

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

I’m always down for a good adventure.

winterline, gap year, lucas massolo

WHY WINTERLINE?

I chose Winterline because the itinerary looks amazing. Everything about it sounded perfect when I first read about it, and now I just can’t wait to begin.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I love to play soccer and basketball.winterline, gap year, lucas massolo

 

Creating a Successful Travel Instagram

One of the easiest ways to keep your friends and family updated on your adventures is by sharing with everyone at once on social media. Why not take it a step further and inspire people you don’t even know to set off on a journey? Getting thousands of followers may take a bit more work than just posting pictures every now and then, so here’s a few tips to keep in mind.

  1. Set up your profile. Choose a name that’s easy to understand and search for, whether it be your real name or a fun moniker that’s relevant to the pictures you’ll be posting. Add a short description that explains who you are or what you do, and make sure that your profile is on public for maximum interaction! Of course, be sure to take precaution on any public profile: don’t share details that are too personal and don’t post anything you wouldn’t want a parent, boss, or teacher to see.winterline, gap year, instagram
  2. You don’t need an expensive camera to take good pictures, but make sure that your photos are good quality. Smartphone cameras are usually pretty reliable, and there are countless apps you can use to make your images pop. Make sure to post pictures that are visually intriguing and unique.winterline, gap year, instagram
  3. Build your aesthetic. Do you want to focus on global food? Architecture? Local people you meet while traveling? Of course, you can have a general travel profile as long as your photos all have a cohesive thread.
  4. Interact with your followers. Start your network by reaching out to friends, and friends of friends. Promote your Instagram on other social networks. Use a few, relevant hashtags that speak to your target audience. Follow similar accounts, and follow their followers, as well. This will likely inspire them to check out your profile. But don’t just be a ghost follower. Like people’s photos, comment on them, and respond to any comments they leave you. Build a relationship with your followers to keep them engaged.
  5. Don’t post too often or too little. You don’t want to clog the feed of your followers or they may get annoyed. However, post too scarcely and your followers may forget about you or unfollow. Consistency is key.
  6. Think about your caption, and make it relevant to the photo. Describe your experiences, or use a quote that sums it up. Hone your storytelling skills; nothing draws in an audience more than the combination of a stunning photo and an intriguing story.winterline, gap year, vacation
  7. Tag your location and any accounts relevant to the photo. For example, if you’re posting a photo of your food, set the location as the restaurant and tag them in the actual photo. This satisfies the curiosity of your followers and allows them to use your account as a reference for their own travels. This also increases the chance that the restaurant may repost your photo or interact with you, so their own followers will become aware of your account, too.

    winterline, gap year, cambodia
    Taking in the waterfall | Photo By: Abby Dulin

Want to see how we do it? Be sure to follow our Instagram account to keep up with Winterline’s adventures!

New Student Spotlight: Pablo González-Pacheco Fernández

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?

A gap year was never in my interest. This is because I thought it was useless, mainly getting a perspective from friends who have done it in recent years. However, when I was introduced to Winterline I thought that it did not resemble any of the other activities my friends have done. My interest in Winterline derives from its mission to teach 100 different skills that are essential or useful in one’s life. I was very interested in this aspect, as I saw it as an opportunity I couldn’t dismiss.Pablo González-Pacheco Fernández, winterline, gap year

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

I have been accepted to several universities in the US and Europe. However, I think I would profit tremendously from a gap year that would help me mature and expose me to new experiences that will give me more clarity towards my passion and path I want to take in my academic career.

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I think I am very interested in all the skills. However, the skills that interest me the most are all outdoor activities. This is because I’ve been a very outdoors person my whole life, in recent years specifically I’ve had the opportunity to practice several outdoors activities. The first to come to mind is scuba diving, this is an activity that I really enjoy and would like to learn it as a skill.Pablo González-Pacheco Fernández, winterline, gap year

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

In my professional career, I want to become an entrepreneur as ideas are what passions me in life. Since I was very young I’ve been fascinated by simple ideas that now form large businesses, as a result, I’ve been very productive on thinking ideas of my own, I have several to form start-ups in the future. To follow my passion I want to study in a business orientated school that will teach me the necessary resources to reach my dream.

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

In 2016 I participated as a volunteer in Ostional, Costa Rica. The mission of the volunteering program was to preserve and help sea turtles in the Pacific ocean. To complete this objective we had to help the sea turtles lay their eggs on the beach and take care of the baby turtles. This was my favorite trip as its the most satisfying experience of my life, I am a very animalist person as I am inspired by animals. In addition, I also met a lot of people in the program, some of which I’ve developed very strong relationships.Pablo González-Pacheco Fernández, winterline, gap year

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

In the program, I hope to become an independent and mature person. I also want to develop new relationships within and outside the program, I want to open my mind to new cultures and know new people around the world. Finally, I want to develop all skills as deeply as possible and feel a profound feeling of satisfaction at the end of the experience.

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

I want my future peers to know that I am a very down to earth person, I can describe myself as a very friendly and social person, usually never get angry, but will sometimes tell people off if they are doing a wrong thing. I am also a very communicative person and love to meet new people, I will always be trying to talk to somebody as I can barely keep my mouth shut. I am also a huge fan of soccer, as usual, I will do anything to watch the games of my team. Finally, I really like hip-hop and rap music, but you will have to put up with my Colombian music playing at full volume.Pablo González-Pacheco Fernández, winterline, gap year

WHY WINTERLINE?

Before knowing about Winterline, no other gap year program interested me, as all were too specific and superficial. I feel that Winterline is the only program that included many different activities, all for the purpose of teaching young adults on the principles of life, which is the only implication that will successfully prepare someone for the real world.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I am a very good soccer player.Pablo González-Pacheco Fernández, winterline, gap year

 

Vibrancy of India

Winterline students will get to spend some considerable time exploring India. And although much of India struggles with extreme overcrowding and poverty, it is a country full of incredible landmarks, religious history, and colorful culture. Gap year student visiting this spectacular country won’t have to look far to discover a vast array of new experiences.

Making Your Journey

For many travelers, the activities and landmark sites make the biggest impact. Visitors to India have plenty of sites to explore.

  • Taj Mahal — This world-famous marble palace is an architectural wonder with an intriguing back story. You could call it the LeBron James of places to visit in India.
  • Buddhist Caves of Ajanta — These caves, which date back as far as 2nd Century BC, have tremendous artistic and religious importance. Plus, they’re really beautiful.
  • Himalayas — You can’t ask for much more from a mountain range. World’s tallest peak? Got it (Mount Everest, at 29,029 feet). Glaciers? Check – the world’s third-largest quantity of snow and ice reside there. Several climates in various spots? Uh-huh. Multiple rivers? Yep.
  • Tea Gardens — Darjeeling isn’t just a variety of tea. It’s the gorgeous area of India where this type of tea actually comes from. Cool, huh?winterline, gap year, india

Eye-Opening Facts

  • With nearly 1.3 billion residents, India contains about one-sixth of the world’s total population. Only China has more people.
  • India’s Hindu calendar has 6 seasons: spring, summer, monsoon, autumn, pre-winter, and winter.
  • It’s illegal to take Indian currency (Rupees) out of India.
  • India has the world’s lowest meat consumption per person.
  • India has more mobile phones than toilets.
  • Hinduism and Buddhism both originated in India. Hinduism is the country’s most commonly practiced religion.winterline, gap year, india

Flavors of a Nation

Like its majestic mountain peaks, Indian food isn’t subtle. It’s quite straightforward with its one-of-a-kind mixture of opposing, yet somehow complementary, flavors and consistencies – sweet vs. salty, creamy vs. spicy.

Spices like turmeric and cumin — along with consistent use of flat breads, rice and lentils, depending on the region — are major components of India’s food profile. The meats of choice are fish, chicken and mutton (that’s sheep, in case you didn’t know).

winterline, gap year, india

Whether you want to try new foods or dedicate your time to a social cause, you won’t run out of fascinating places to go, people to see, and cultural nuances to experience in India.

“Leave No Trace” for Traveling on Your Gap Year

We’ve given you a look at our partner NOLS.  NOLS teaches you how to relate to the natural world in the most respectful way possible. Their Leave No Trace principles are a set of guidelines that allow you to get close to nature and enjoy the things it has to teach without doing harm. They cover everything from pre-trip planning to interacting with other people on the trail.

There’s clearly a parallel between each of these guidelines and those that we would prescribe for traveling internationally. Here are a few examples:

1. Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.

Depending on where you are in the world, different laws and regulations will apply. If you’re going to Bangkok, it could be pre-entry visa requirements. If you’re in the backcountry of Wyoming, the special concern could be finding clean drinking water. Venice, maybe pickpocketing.

Knowing what you’re facing before you get there can be a huge advantage, because it allows you to adapt while you still have time and other resources. You can pack your water filter, and your hidden money pouch. You can apply for that entry visa before you miss the deadline!

2. Visit in small groups. Split larger parties into groups of 4 – 6.

Each time you visit a place, you leave an imprint. Whether that’s a physical footprint, or a complex socio-cultural impact, something happens. There is no one way interaction, where you might receive a piece of a culture and not leave a mark. And traveling in smaller groups is imperative for maintaining that balance.

We all know the groups of a hundred people walking through town, matching hats, ice cream. It’s weird. Winterline always emphasizes small group sizes, whether that’s learning with a partner, or wandering through an old European town. It leaves a smaller footprint, and it also creates a stronger sense of community within the group.

Girls Hiking NOLS

3. Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.

Whatever you bring into your campsite, you take with you. This fundamental relationship to trash, refuse, and waste, is how we approach our international travel experiences as well. At the end of every Winterline activity, you’ll probably hear a Field Advisor say, “OK let’s pick up any micro trash we see.”

The aim isn’t to be annoying. It’s to recognize and acknowledge that we are all making an impact all the time. If twenty of us leave a plastic wrapper on the floor, the world will quickly become a landfill, and that’s not what we want. We learn about marine biology because we love it. We learn about life in the slums of India because we know that humans are humans. Whether it’s marine species or humanity, our trash affects each other. The way we treat the world is how we treat ourselves. This Leave No Trace principle highlights that very important fact.

4. Preserve the past, observe but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.

Everything that humanity has built is a part of our heritage. That’s what it means to be a global citizen, to be a citizen of the world. To truly embrace this complexity is to be an inheritor of all of human history, the good and the bad, the terrible and the true.

Allowing history to be, and to coexist with the present is what allows us to transcend the limited perspectives of our own time, and thus learn. When we embrace history, observe it without damaging it, we avoid making the same mistakes of our forbears, whatever the color of their skin or the beliefs of their time.

5. Be courteous, yield to other users on the trail.

You’ll never be alone forever. At some point you’ll join others, even on the road less traveled. How you treat those people is not only a reflection on you as an individual, but all the things you represent to them. Whether that’s your nationality, your eye color, your skin color, your fresh Nike kicks, the way you allow others to express themselves and pursue the things that matter to them in those brief moments of human interaction are not forgotten.

What gets established as culture doesn’t happen in large fell swoops, mandated from on high, but in the minutiae of fleeting moments, kind gestures, bitter memories. The way we treat others inches our society towards behaving in that way.

How would you like to be treated? And to go beyond the Golden Rule — which would have you do unto others as you would have them do unto you — how would others wish to be treated? Because we’re not all the same. That’s why we travel in the first place!

winterline, gap year, nols

6. Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

To soak up the world, it’s best to listen. Whether that’s on the trail or in the bustling streets of Mumbai, this Leave No Trace principle bears its own weight. The sound of the birds, of the singing of water taxis and tuktuks, of your peers laughing, these are the real joys of travel.

When you leave your home, don’t leave this principle behind. No country should be proud of having a boisterous reputation. The ability to learn is founded on the ability to listen. See the world, but also listen.

Does travel make you live longer?

Looking for a reason to postpone work and school for a journey around the world? Look no further: studies are showing that traveling more is related to living longer.winterline, gap year, vacation

That’s right. A 40-year study conducted by the University of Helsinki found that those who took three weeks or less annual vacation had a 37% greater chance of dying younger than people who take more time to travel.

In 1974, the university began tracking 1,200 businessmen who were identified as being at risk for heart disease due to weight, blood pressure, or cholesterol levels. The results were presented to the European Society of Cardiology in 2018. In addition to a shorter life span, those who traveled less were less productive at work and had more trouble sleeping. winterline, gap year, vacation

Though the study only tracked men, these results are significant enough to encourage to take a vacation! And they make sense. Overworking can lead to higher stress levels, which can affect your body, emotions, and behavior, leading to many health problems.

Professor Timo Strandberg warns, “don’t think having an otherwise healthy lifestyle will compensate for working too hard and not taking holidays…Vacations can be a good way to relieve stress.” It’s never too early to start thinking about how the way you live impacts your health. So if you think going to college or entering the workforce right away might be too overwhelming for you, consider taking some time off and refreshing yourself.winterline, gap year

And remember, this study comes from Finland, which is consistently ranked the happiest place on earth to live. Sounds like they know what they’re doing – maybe you should take some vacation time to visit!

New Student Spotlight: Jared Franklin

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 introduced to a gap year in the spring of my senior year.winterline, gap year, jared franklin

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

I’m not quite sure what I want to do with my future and I’m hoping that through traveling the world and being pushed outside my comfort zone, I will find inspiration that will help guide me towards a future career.

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

The skill I am excited to learn is diving. I can’t wait to see what it is like to explore underneath the ocean.winterline, gap year, jared franklin

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

I still have no idea of what I want to do with my future.

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

I have traveled many places. The trip that stands out to me is the one I took to Nicaragua for a school program the summer of my junior year. I liked learning about the culture and helping out in the community.winterline, gap year, jared franklin

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

With the opportunity to learn over 100 different skills,  I hope to gain inspiration for my future, as well as friendships and memories to last a lifetime.

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

I am a great friend, and my passion is in helping others.winterline, gap year, jared franklin

WHY WINTERLINE?

In researching many different gap year programs, I found that Winterline had the best reputation. I loved how Winterline travels to 10 different countries and partners up with experts in each country to teach skills I would not otherwise have the opportunity to learn.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I have size 15 feet.

winterline, gap year, jared franklin

6 Things To Pack For A Gap Year That You Probably Didn’t Think Of Yet

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In preparation for our gap year programs, we create detailed lists of things students should absolutely not leave home without. Our field advisors travel with our students through India, the Colorado wilderness, Costa Rica, and beyond, and never fail to come back with sharper insights.

These prep lists cover everything from technology, the bare essentials, safety protocol, travel bags, toiletries, daily wear, even swimwear and sun protection.

Here are six things we recommend if you’re heading off for what could be the craziest year of your life.

1. Ziploc bags.

Ziplocs can be a lifesaver. They serve the same purpose as waterproof stuff sacks, but they can be used for a wide variety of needs and stuff themselves into the small corners of your bag. If you’ve ever needed to keep something dry, fresh, or not spilling over all your other stuff, you’ve known the value of ziplocs. They’ll help you keep items like notebooks, medicines, cameras, high-calorie snacks, and other items dry. Pack 5-10 large ziplocs for your trip.

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2. Immunization / vaccination card.

Too many people forget this item when traveling around the world. The thing is, you never know when you’ll need to show your immunization history. You could get stuck by a twisty barbed wire fence, or it could be a matter of getting a visa for a country on your bus detour. Your immunization/vaccination card will help expedite some of the most stressful situations you will hopefully never face while traveling the world. Never leave home without it!

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3. GoPro Hero 4.

Inevitably, you’ll want great photos of your experience, something to remember all the crazy experiences you’ve had by. But if a camera can feel like it’s pulling you out of the experience, strap a GoPro to yourself and you’re good to go. You get to keep both your hands free and do whatever it is you’re doing, knowing you can look back on it and laugh someday.

A solid camera will capture your experiences while not making you feel like you’re walking on broken glass. The GoPro Hero 4 takes high quality video, photo, and timelapse, and won’t break if you drop it under water.

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4. Rashguard Shirts

If you’re planning on doing any water activities, you’ll always be running the risk of rashes, as well as plenty of sun exposure. A rashguard shirt will guard you from rashes, obviously, as well as keep you from getting super sunburned or having to put on sunblock every 2 hours on every part of your body. Plus the tanlines look really cool.

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5. Water bottles and bladders

Every time you leave your camp or hostel for the next place, as a rule of thumb, you’ll want to have 2L of water on you. You never know when you’re going to fill up next, especially if you’re in a country or region without a lot of clean water (it happens). Wide-mouth Nalgene bottles are extremely useful for a variety of contexts, from just water, to mixing in hydration salts, iodine, and emergency medicines. They’re also easy to clean. Bring two of them.

Nalgenes take up space, even when they have nothing in them. If you prefer a more flexible shape, a water bladder can be useful. It’s not recommended to mix things into them, and they’re less easy to clean, but they’re adaptability and size is definitely a strong point.

Either way, don’t go without water. 3 days without it, and “you’ll perish.”

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6. Moleskin blister padding

Nothing will bum your day out more than blisters (besides no water). Bring the right socks and break in your shoes before any long treks and you still may need a little extra padding and relief. Moleskin padding can keep you going when your feet are dead, but your legs are fine. Heck, even the US Army uses it. But it can be hard to find in far off places, so don’t leave home without it.

Is there anything special you think we forgot? What’s the number one item you would want with you while traveling?

How to Market Your Gap Year

We already have the research that shows studying abroad increases your likelihood of finding a job. But how do you market your gap year or study abroad time to show potential employers what you’ve learned? Here are some tips for polishing your resume and LinkedIn profile to maximize your chances of your travel paying off.

The Resume

  • This should be pretty self-explanatory, but you never know: make sure you actually include your travels on your resume! Don’t just leave a blank space in your chronology. If your travels don’t fit under your work or education experiences, try titling a new section: “International Travel,” “Relevant Experiences,” or “Relevant Skills.” Or, play around to find something else that you feel encapsulates your time abroad.winterline, gap year
  • Tailor the resume for your anticipated next move. You probably accomplished a lot on your gap year, and as great as it all was, it isn’t all relevant to every position. Based on the position you’re applying for, your resume may be a little different. Pay attention to the job description and requirements and use the skills you learned that show your capability for the spot. There are some basic skills that are applicable to every job, like communication skills, so experiences like developing interpersonal skills with Cambodian monks would fit on every resume.winterline, gap year
  • Using action words is a generally good tip, but it’s especially important when you’re summing up an experience as all-encompassing as your gap year. You really want to emphasize the hands-on experience you’ve had by choosing powerful verbs: think “conducted research on lionfish” instead of “learned about marine life.” Be precise, concise, and specific!winterline, gap year
  • Give yourself credit for your work! Sometimes we pick up on skills we aren’t even aware of. For example, if you ran a travel Instagram, you have social media marketing skills. If you ran a travel blog, maybe you picked up on SEO/SEM. Think about what you did on your gap year and push it one step further – what did you gain from each of those experiences?winterline, gap year

The Interview

  • Think about a challenge you overcame while on your gap year, and be ready to talk about it! Maybe you had trouble adjusting to a new location, or you tried a new skill and failed at it. Employers will always want to know about your initiative, adaptability, resilience, and crisis management skills, as well as your level of self-awareness and ability to plan for future issues.winterline, gap year
  • Prepare real-life examples about your skills and experiences. You can’t put every detail onto your resume, but you can elaborate with anecdotes once you’ve grabbed the interviewer’s attention with your standout resume!winterline, gap year

Remember that your resume is just an overview of you and your capabilities. You want it to be succinct and enticing enough that employers want to know more. The interview is the place to really shine and get into the details and examples you’ve already outlined. If you get overwhelmed, just remember how much you’ve already accomplished and it’ll seem less daunting!

 

New Student Spotlight: Lauren Speroni

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’ve heard of the idea in high school when I learned about alternatives to going straight to college.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

It seemed like the perfect opportunity to learn more outside the classroom setting and to learn about yourself. winterline, gap year, lauren speroni

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I am most excited to learn circus skills because it seems intriguing and so different from all the others.

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

I am leaning towards doing international work either in a business or diplomatic setting.

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

I have traveled to many European countries and places within the US. My favorite trip has to be to Alaska because the environment and wildlife are so unique and the Northern Lights were amazing.winterline, gap year, lauren speroni

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

I want to come from this with many great experiences and memories along with growth and skills I would not have been able to get anywhere else.

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

I might seem reserved at first but I warm up quickly. I love to goof around and blast music and dance.

WHY WINTERLINE?

Winterline has the length and structure I wanted out of a gap year. It really ties together all the traveling and skills I’m looking for.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I can tie a cherry stem in my mouth.winterline, gap year, lauren speroni

 

Alumni Spotlight: Leela Barlow

What did you do when you returned from your Gap Year? Did you head straight to college? The workforce? Trade school? Something else?

I spent the summer as a job site manager for a painting company. Glamorous I know, but I created a great relationship with my co-workers and my boss because of the communication and interview skills I learned from Living on Purpose and Startup Institute. In the Fall I started my first year at University of California – Santa Barbara to study Global Studies and Political Science. My time spent travelling piqued my interest in international politics and global processes of culture, and now I get to pursue that from an academic perspective at one of the top public schools in the nation. winterline, gap year, leela barlow

How has your Winterline experience affected your post-gap year plan? Is it different than what you had planned out before the program?

My post gap-year plans didn’t change as much as they became more specific. I applied to university in the middle of Winterline, knowing I wanted to pursue tertiary education, but it wasn’t until after Winterline that I knew what I actually wanted to study and how I wanted to make my impact on the world.

How have you changed since completing Winterline? Do you notice anything different about yourself since the program?

Yes. A million times yes. Winterline stripped away everything that my environment had layered upon me, and left just the core of my personality, my most genuine self. It wasn’t just by chance, I spent all year consciously self-reflecting, but I don’t think I would’ve considered it at all without the experience of changing my environment every week to see what remained. Winterline showed me how to accept and present my most genuine self, and it’s changed the way I interact with people of all different backgrounds for the better. Now when I walk in a room I stand tall, knowing who I am and how to interact with others. winterline, gap year, leela barlow

What was your favorite skill to learn and why?

Maybe it’s a typical answer, but I really enjoyed our mixology class in Cambodia. It was really fun to learn how to make a good drink, and if I’m being honest, I think it’s made me less prone to irresponsible drinking habits now that I’m at college. I’d argue that being peer pressured into drinking poor quality liquor is a little less appealing when you’ve had the chance to sit at a bar and drink something that doesn’t burn all the way down and leave you broken the next morning. winterline, gap year, leela barlow

What was your favorite trimester and why? Is there a specific location that you catch yourself thinking about from your program more than others?

I truly enjoyed Trimester 2. Asia’s history never fails to surprise and humble me. My favourite place was probably Siem Reap because it was one of the first times we got to interact with the other cohort. Plus, we got to do circus school; as it turns out I’m not bad at aerial silks.

What did you do for your Independent Study Project? Have you continued using that skill/have you used that skill since the project occurred?

I went to Budapest to refine my photography skills, and it was truly my favourite week out of the entire year. I had a chance to take this new version of myself that I had uncovered and bring her out into the real world. I use the photography skills I learned all the time because it’s a passion of mine, but more than that, I take the independent travel skills I acquired with me every time I set out on a new trip. To be able to arrive in a foreign place and not feel lost or vulnerable is something I truly think every person needs to have. I believe the attitude you arrive with plays a huge part in your safety and competence wherever you end up.

winterline, gap year, leela barlow
Photo by Leela

What’s one piece of advice that you would give a future Winterliner?

This is not a vacation! You are going to have to work hard to be present, or you’re wasting your time. Take feedback and try it on, give feedback unapologetically but also with empathy. This is your chance to learn and grow without sacrificing your GPA — so take it! You will learn so much about the world on Winterline, it’s hard not to, but if you make use of every opportunity or challenge you’re presented with, you’ll also learn a lot about yourself, and that’s what will get you through any future endeavour.

Do you still keep in touch with your cohort?

Absolutely. We keep each other updated on Snapchat all the time, some more than others, but in all honesty I feel we’ve gotten even closer since the program ended over a year ago. We still share our personal experiences and struggles with each other, and give each other support despite the miles between us. It’s like having a secret only twelve people know. No one else quite understands the experiences we had, and I think that keeps us in contact as what we learned evolves and translates into our daily lives.

What is one of your favorite memories from your program?

One of my favourite memories was in India during our small group project week. I stayed in Pune and learned about Art Therapy, Dance, and Hindustani music at Artsphere with Patrick Neafsey and Liam McLees. The whole week was memorable, but I think my favourite part was getting to celebrate Holi, the festival of colour. I’m half Indian, so I’ve gotten the chance to participate before, but never in India, and never like we did in Pune. We scoured the local mall looking for white clothes to destroy, and we went with a group of people that had taught us Capoeira earlier in the week. When we got there, we were welcomed by people we’d never met as if we were old friends. It was wonderful to celebrate and connect with people despite whatever language or cultural barriers existed; there was just an effervescent quality to the festival unlike any I’ve ever experienced before. winterline, gap year, leela barlow


Do you think the Winterline experience has benefited your life? If so, in what way?

I could write a thirty page paper to answer this question, but for the sake of time, I’ll just give you my most pressing reason why Winterline has benefited my life. I never realized that the people I knew back home were either exactly like me, or understanding enough to let me be the way I was, good, bad, or indifferent. I was an “acquired taste,” as an old friend put it, but I thought that I would be well off enough to stay that way. On Winterline, I was living with twelve other people who didn’t understand me in the slightest, and vice versa. It took nine months of stripping away all of the preconceived notions and prejudices left behind from bad first impressions and my terrible habit of keeping people at arms distance to see why Winterline was such a good decision for me. It’s kind of hard to learn how to get along with twelve very different people without learning how to get along with everyone else too. The most useful thing I learned on Winterline was how to speak to anyone without sacrificing my own personality in the process. In other words, I learned the basics of speaking someone else’s language in my own dialect, a skill I continue to practice and that benefits me every day. winterline, gap year, leela barlow

To learn more about what some of our awesome Winterline alum are doing, check out the rest of our blog posts. 

New Student Spotlight: Micah Zimmerman

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 a gap year around the same time that I was seriously looking at colleges, a little less than a year ago, but I didn’t give it any real thought until recently when I realized that maybe college next year wasn’t for me.winterline, gap year, micah zimmerman

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE A GAP YEAR?

I couldn’t find something that I really wanted to study and everything about Winterline looked amazing. I wanted to use this year to find out what I liked so that I could narrow down the choices for college.

WHAT SKILL ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO LEARN?

I am really excited to do the BMW program and to scuba dive.

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

Although I don’t know exactly what I want to do in the future, I would love to work on fixing the environment through renewable energy.winterline, gap year, micah zimmerman

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

I have traveled before, my favorite trip was to Israel because I got to see so many historical things from my religion.

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

Honestly I don’t even know what to expect, but I do hope to learn a lot about myself and what I enjoy doing.winterline, gap year, micah zimmerman

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

I want my future Winterline peers to know that I am always open to be friends and I love to try and learn new things.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOU!

I am double jointed in my arms (I’ll show you what I mean if you ask)winterline, gap year, micah zimmerman