Traveling the World with Liam

Maybe you’re considering a gap year for 2020. Making this decision only gets easier with more information and insight – and what better way to learn about a gap year than to follow a Winterline student through the course of their travels? Lucky for you, our 2019-2020 student Liam is creating a vlog series showcasing his Winterline experience. While some things will look a little different this year due to COVID-19, the overall purpose and goals of Winterline’s program remains the same.

Whether you’re looking for a way to have new experiences from home or learn more about a specific program, Liam will take you on an adventure through his own eyes. We’ll update this page each time Liam posts a new episode, but you can follow along or check out his other videos on Liam’s YouTube channel!

Do you have your own travel or gap year experiences you want to share? Let us know in the comments!

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

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.

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!

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    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.

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    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 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!

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!

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!