by Isabella Hernandez

As I was sitting on the floor of my room last night, luggage strewn around the floor and my music playing in the background, I asked myself…how on Earth did my summer go by so fast? It seems like just yesterday I was graduating from NCSSM and hugging my roommate goodbye, diploma in hand and tears threatening. Looking around me I took in the mountain of 3oz shampoo bottles, art supplies, and various hiking gear. My next thoughts were along the lines of “I am actually leaving…wow”. Even writing this departure blog post is making me feel slightly nostalgic for the family I haven’t even left yet. Packing and moving out all of my things has been giving me tons of mixed emotions. One second I can’t wait to fly away for a year and the next I am frowning down at my graduation yearbook, tearing up at old pictures of my friends. Every day since orientation week at UNC-Chapel Hill I have been counting down the days to the 14th of September, making sure to shout out to my parents the number of weeks I had left in the US. However I have recently entered into counting days instead of weeks.

NCSSM Commencement Day (2014)

“Ten more days!” I shout.

My enthusiastic announcement fades as I really register the magnitude of what I just said. It has come to the point where my imaginary gap year is actually happening. No longer is it some far off distant “thing” that I tell people I am going to do. I guess the best way to describe it is when you are eating your favorite meal. You start off with plenty to go around, but once you get to the end you make sure to savor the last of it. So in that way I want to “savor” the days left that I have with my family, to try and make up for the days I took having them around for granted. This coming year I am cutting the umbilical cord! And I honestly have no idea what to expect. I really don’t want to set any expectations for what my first destination will be like. For me I want to primarily focus more on being optimistic and open to the various cultures that I will find myself privy to this year. I was lucky enough to find an amazing host family in India (the same family that I so dearly hoped would accept me) and two schools that I will be teaching at for the next 5 months. I am so grateful for having this amazing opportunity and hope to pick up a bit of Hindi during my stay. There are a few things that I truly cannot wait to experience while I am in India. Two of them being the market vendors and street animals.

The Gap Year Crew

The Gap Year Crew

As one of my goals I hope to fill my sketchbook with various things that I encounter on my gap year. For me, being able to take back bits and pieces of what I see with my sketchbook is something I will value even more than journaling or even taking photos. I cannot wait to share my experiences with everyone throughout my gap year and I wish all of my Fellow Gappers the best of luck!

– Bella Marie Hernandez

“Live life fully while you’re here. Experience everything. Take care of yourself and your friends. Have fun, be crazy, be weird. Go out and screw up! You’re going to anyway, so you might as well enjoy the process. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistakes: find the cause of your problem and eliminate it. Don’t try to be perfect; just be an excellent example of being human.” – Anthony Robbins