Global Gap Year Fellowship Blog

Changing with the Tides of Time

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Natalie Barth.

When I was younger, my father taught me how to swim in the ocean. He taught me how to deal with all sorts of waves that I may encounter. Since then, I have spent hours in the ocean, surfing, swimming, and simply floating in its grandeur.

The ocean is always changing, shifting, and evolving. The formation of the waves change with the phases of the moon, so it is necessary to learn to deal with each circumstance. There are the waves that are incredibly severe – the ones that will destroy you if you let them. If this wave encapsulates you, you become intertwined with the roaring ocean. You remain overcome with the absolute chaos of it all, stuck in the disaster with no escape. However, it does not last forever and eventually the water becomes tranquil once again. […]

Born to Adventure

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Viktoria Alston.

If you asked six-year-old me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I’d say, “an adventurer.” Then you’d laugh, pat me on the head, and assume I’d figure out a “real” career when I was older.

As I grew older, I realized that “adventurer” isn’t something you can put on a resumé. It’s not a job you can apply for, and you sure as heck aren’t going to get paid for it (little did I know). You might figure I should drop that dream, right? Well, here I am preparing to take a fully-funded gap year abroad.

I came into the two-week Global Gap Year Institute completely unprepared. I knew I wanted to go to Peru, but I didn’t know why I was going, what I wanted to do, or how I was supposed to stretch $7,500 over one […]

Why Do What Is Expected?

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Shelby Watson .

“I expect you to go to high school, graduate, and go to college.” This is what I have been told that I would do my entire life – no ifs, ands, or buts about it – until I decided to go against the grain and challenge that expectation. Throughout all of the craziness of senior year with applying to colleges and scholarships, I found out about the Global Gap Year Fellowship (GGYF) program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The description was more than intriguing: a year of service abroad before going to college. This was my chance to get away from the everyday classroom-based learning environment and experience life in a new way. I knew I had to apply.

Much to my surprise, my parents were supportive and let go of their previous expectations for me. […]

Cary, North Carolina: A Flight of Fear

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Georgia Morgan.

One of my best friends has always said, “If it doesn’t scare you, it’s not worth doing.” She claims that if something you’re aspiring towards doesn’t at least scare you slightly, then it probably won’t help you grow in the areas you need most. I’ve always been a big dreamer with wondrous goals and aspirations. I told myself I was going to travel the world, do my best to defend human rights, and save our planet. Here I am now, with a very unique opportunity to “travel the world” and serve communities in partnership, and yeah, you could say I’m slightly terrified.

The past two weeks on UNC’s campus at the Global Gap Year Institute have proved to be just as informative, exhausting, and exhilarating as I had anticipated. Each day I joined nine other wide- eyed, ambitious souls in fascinating […]

She doesn’t hate me yet (or so she says)

The following is a blog written by Thilini Weerakkody and Sophie Nachman

Traveling together is an intense way to get to know each other, to say the least. We’ve made it work by learning each other’s strengths and anxieties.

Being the analytical people we are, we decided to organize our observations.



“Wow Sophie, slow down. It’s going to be okay,” I assured. “Yeah, yeah no. You’re right, you’re right” she replied sounding rather frantic. Her eyes darted side to side as we quickly walked down the street. It was 8:30pm. The sun was setting and the elderly population of Aggtelet, Hungary had long retired from their garden work. Right then, I felt calm and safe, but Sophie didn’t. I wasn’t sure how to help.

“Hey, what’s up? We’re okay here.” I said slowly, uncertain if this was the correct approach. “Yeah, I know. I just really want to get home before dark” Sophie agreed, […]

Sensations: Karibu Tanzania

The following is a blog written by MaryBeth Thomas

I began studying music with great intensity late in middle school and throughout my high school years, but my passion, more of an obsession rather, began much earlier. In fact I can’t remember a time when my heart hasn’t been plucking its strings in time with the tune of a fiddle or banjo.
I do however, remember the sensations procured by song in my life: I remember the rides to every basketball or tee-ball practice with my father. Sometimes we would make a few stops along the way, to the dump (our country term for garbage waste facility), or to the local Quickmart or Dollar store (commonly called: Dollar General), for some gum and a Gatorade. Never did a time pass that I didn’t holler to my daddy in the front seat and say, “KENNY CHESNEY”. “Play that song!” I never remembered […]

Brimming with “I Know’s,” “But’s” and “Because’s”

The following is a blog written by Thilini Weerakkody

It’s 7:58pm and I am sitting in my warm and comfy bed, my stomach and legs shielded from the cold air. I am re-reading this year’s journal entries once again because I like how my mind’s experiences sound written out. Does that seem narcissistic? Probably, but it’s true. It’s just nice to have words that totally encompass whatever emotions or thoughts which ran through my head during a particular moment. You can find the same satisfying connection in other people’s writing, but you have to actively look to have your worlds align.

As I skim through all of the Gap Year experiences I’ve had, I think about how few there are left. Currently, I am in my last placement: a small, mountainous village with just 8 people, where I am WWOOFing. Afterwards, I am traveling a week alone in Greece. Then, I […]

Comfortable In Your Own Skin

The following post was written by Anna Bennett. 

In a few words, Myanmar is almost exactly what I asked for. I wanted to go to one place for six to seven months of my gap year—a place that is considered underdeveloped, a place where I could be completely immersed in the culture, a culture significantly different from my own, and a place where not many people can speak English. It’s a country that just opened its borders about 6 years ago and began implementing some democratic strategies just months before my arrival. The place I found is an orphanage with about 60 children who don’t speak English, located on the outskirts of the Yangon region.

I was permitted to live inside the orphanage, everything free with a room and bathroom to myself. I left my orphanage for one week to visit a small town in the north called Kalaymyo where I stayed […]