by Emily Gabbard

Last weekend I visited Chapel Hill for the first time since the GGYF orientation. It was strange going back into the Campus Y knowing exactly where and what I will be doing with my gap year. During orientation I felt overwhelmed. What countries should I go to? What service projects should I help with? What will I need to bring on my gap year? How much money will I be spending?

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Five months later all of those questions are finally answered. I thought I was prepared after orientation weekend; however, that was just the beginning.

This entire summer has consisted of working on my gap year proposal, buying necessary items for my gap year, purchasing travel insurance, plane tickets, a big backpack, hiking shoes, water purifier, emailing the directors of all of the programs, and working on my gap year proposal once again. I did not know that this much planning went into forming an amazing gap year! Now that all the planning, buying, and organizing is finished, I am happy to say that it has been extremely beneficial. I feel less worried, more prepared, and ready to dive into the cultures and service projects abroad.

I admit that I will miss a lot of things about the United States. I will miss my friends and family. I will miss certain foods that I probably cannot have abroad. I will miss a lot of things that seem useless when compared to the journey I am about to embark on. Chocolate chip cookies, playing golf, fall in the mountains, my comfy bed, reliable internet.

However, I am ready to leave all of that behind and experience this journey.

I am ready to go to a third world country where it is okay for me not to look my best. I am ready to live out of my backpack. I am ready to live with less clutter in my life and more love, joy, happiness, and peace. I am ready to form long lasting friendships with new people. I am ready to dive into these other cultures and see beauty around the world through my volunteer work.

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I will be leaving to go to Trujillo, Peru on September 22nd, 2014. This date has always seemed so far away and it is shocking to say that it is only in two days! I will be teaching English in Trujillo through a program called Horizon Peru. I want to use this part of gap year to explore my teaching interest. I am excited to make lesson plans, grade papers, and work closely with the students. I am excited to see if this might be a future major that I will pursue once I return to Carolina.