by Gabriela Aleman

The decision of jumping is thrilling–confidence surges through me when I verbalize my desire to do so. As I climb to the top, I’m all talk, basically showing off, not fully aware of what I signed up for. But, once I step out onto the edge and glance down at the churning water below me, my heart does a funky little dance. A million calculations pulse through my head, things that can go wrong. This is real. But I can’t back down, especially now that two people have jumped before me and someone is video taping below. So I do it – I don’t think – just leap off the edge. In the split second after leaving the ground, I think “WHAT AM I DOING?! I’M NOT A BIRD!” (great last thought, eh?). A small yelp escapes my lips as I hurtle down and plunge into the water feet first. The impact is slightly disorienting, but as I surface, my first breath comes out as a triumphant laugh. Adrenaline is pumping through me as I hear my friends cheering and I think “WAIT, can I go do that again!?”

Cheering on Emily as she jumps from the cliff.

Cheering on Emily as she jumps from the cliff.

Going on a gap year and cliff diving might be two completely different things, but the feelings leading up to and doing both are impressively similar. The exciting decision, the extensive build up, the panic, the moment of truth, the craziness, and then… Pure bliss. At the moment, my departure awaits tentatively on Friday, and I find myself at the “omgI’mtakingagapyearI’mleavingthecountrywhatwhatwhat” stage. But if a little cliff diving has shown me anything, I know the plunge will be well worth it all, more than I can imagine.

The Baby Gappers after successful cliff jumping.

The Baby Gappers after successful cliff jumping.

In the meantime, my past week has consisted of pouring through books, cuddling in my own bed, writing enough letters to cramp my hand, eating each and every craving, last minute hectic shopping, Skyping people from dusk to dawn, and trying to fit my life into 65 L worth of space.

Wait until my mom sees this. Hahaha, whoops!

Wait until my mom sees this. Hahaha, whoops!

I’ll be arriving in Sri Lanka at around 4 AM on Sunday, September 7th after hours of flying (I can already see myself cursing the jet lag that is sure to ensue). There, I will be working with a local orphanage in the city of Galle, which is in the southernmost tip on the coast of the island. On November 28th I will be flying to the island of Bali, Indonesia to teach English at two local schools until May 2015. Those plans may or may not change as I’m looking to partner with another organization as well. Only time will tell.

I’m strangely already feeling nostalgic for the things I’ll miss, but I’m bubbling over with excitement for all the new things I’ll experience at the same time. Something that I’ve learned about Sri Lankans which I admire is there form of saying goodbye. Phonetically, it is “gihin ennam” and literally it means, “I’ll go and come back.” So as Friday rolls around, I won’t be saying goodbye; just a simple gihin ennam.

Wish me luck!

Gaby Alemán is a 2014-2015 Global Gap Year Fellow.