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Kristen's Gap Year

So, gap year. I didn’t even know these were a thing until the summer before my sophomore year of my undergraduate degree. You’re probably reading that thinking “omg where even where you?” to which my answer would be: DEALING WITH HIGHSCHOOL PROBLEMS. What was I going to wear that day?, did he just message me?, she is a slut, wow I am not as pretty as those girls… and the list goes on. So I just didn’t even know that was an option, I heard of people taking a year off to work & save money to pay for school but that was about it.

I first heard about a gap year when I met one of my now best friends/ soul sisters. We were working at a summer camp in northern Maine as camp counselors and just became immediate . She was from the UK & was telling about how after high school she had taken a year off and traveled with friends, seen different countries, had new & exciting life experiences  & then went off to college/ uni (whatever you call it depending on which country you’re from) when she was ready. I really liked the idea of this because it was on her own terms. I in no way feel like me attending uni was on my own terms. I felt like at 17, 18 I was NOT READY… One I didn’t for sure know what I wanted to do, I mean how am I supposed to choose a career for a person that hasn’t even had those formative life experiences let? I was picking something for a future me, a person I didn’t even know. So from then on I knew I was going to take that gap year that I felt I missed out on.

One of the most asked questions about my trips is “how do you afford it?” Well, there are many different answers. I am so lucky to have parents who support me, and help me with money from time to time. However, that isn’t to say I didn’t do a hell of a lot to save. When I say save here is what is mean: I started saving for my gap year in the summer before my sophomore year of college, as soon as Katie told me about about hers’. I had summer jobs and saved all of the money I could from those,  and as I mentioned living with my parents rent free free with free food helped ALOT. I also got a job and worked around 20 hours a week trying to juggle my 5 courses, labs, 2 internships, and studying. I then saved all of that money, and spent as little as possible on essentials each week. Another big big thing which is hard to do was I NEVER went out, not for food or drinks or social things that cost money. It is a money drain, and yes worth it because it’s quality time with your friends but I knew my gap year would be too. And so it went until I finished my degree in April of 2016.

In April right after I finished classes, and before graduation I flew to England to visit my boyfriend & friends I have had from my semester exchange (I did in Australia), from there we flew to Dublin! There is truly nothing better than going on a trip with a big group of your close friends… and the flight from Leeds to Dublin was around 30£. I stayed there for about 6 weeks and explored England, went to the south, the north, and many places in between. I then went back to Canada for my Undergraduate graduation!? Still feels weird to say…

What did I do my first summer of freedom in this new world? Worked. At an all girls summer camp. You always need more money, am I right? I worked until the first week of August when the summer camp ended and I started my yoga teacher training course. ( See my blog post on my yoga journey: https://mystretchlife.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/yoga-how-did-i-start-my-yoga-journey.html#more )

This is another area I was lucky in because I had help paying for this. If any of you have looked it up you know its expensive as hellllll. BUT WORTH IT (will do a specific post on this as well!) I did my course as an immersion experience in Maui so that was such an adventure/ life changing experience. I didn’t know it at the time but I was beginning a journey of self understanding, secular understanding, and believe me it came with ups but it also came with massive lows.

From Maui I started what I was considering in my head as my official “gap year” - when I think of what I wanted out of it there was no plan, list of places, thought that I would become this eat.pray.love type person but look at me know. Yes, traveling changed my whole life and perspective on who I think I should be & how other humans deserve to be treated but I suppose I didn’t do all my traveling during my gap year & every tiny moment have lead me to these thoughts now. So if you take a gap year will you feel “enlightened”? I don’t know, honestly.

I will not bore you with such phrases like “and then we did this and then this and then this….” I do want to go into each section of my trip in detail, of course, but I will save those thoughts for later posts. So, from here I will give you a list of the places in order of where I went. Hold on to your hats people: Maui, Maine, England, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, England, Maine, England, Bratislava, Budapest, Vienna, England, Maine, road trip across America to Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Calgary, Banff, road trip from Banff to Maine, England, Sweden, England, Maine.

I will be starting my masters in January of 2018, in Physiotherapy. My gap year has turned into a gap year and a half… At first I felt upset because these 4 months felt like wasted time… waiting time. But time is only what you make it & so I am working to make this “fall semester” productive. I am teaching 4 yoga classes a week , studying anatomy, physiology, and every advised book before my masters starts, just trying to be prepared I guess… I don’t know really. I’ve also gotten the chance to visit my friends doing cool things this fall. As in Lund, Sweden, and Oxford, England.

All in all I have learned more than I ever thought I would about myself, more than I thought there was to learn during my gap year. Some good & some bad, I feel so lucky to have had the chance, the time, and the support. I know this is something I shouldn’t take for granite & I will try to never do so.

If you have any questions comment below! I will be doing different blog posts on some specific places so you if want to hear about any in particular please let me know!



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