by Parker Vige

As I prepared myself for the day of departure (17 days out), I felt the need to start jogging regularly.

**Why would you start running 17 days before you leave, Parker?**

Well, I’m glad you thought to ask. — Several weeks ago, I was lying in bed illustrating the places of Africa in my mind. In every concept I could imagine, there was one constant: herds of kids running about, running a lot faster and longer than I could. Maybe I’m stereotyping, but maybe I’m not. Maybe the students at the Ugandan school sit listlessly all day, or maybe they don’t. Whether I’m walking into a situation of immense amounts of stamina, or kids who simply want to sit and talk, I intend to prepare myself.

In the photo above is a glimpse of the path on which I began my runs. At some point, I looked down this never-ending line of concrete, and I began to see more than what had once been there. Take, for instance, that street light off in the distance: That light never existed before. That is, it never existed for me before I went for a run in the dark of night. And what about those electricity lines? They just became visible to me yesterday.

All of these things, these technologies, these advancements, these luxuries: I never saw them before. I never saw them before because they were always there.

But, what happens when they’re not there?

Will I notice the absence of a street light in Uganda? Or, what about the lack of air conditioning in my room? The truth is, I don’t know what to expect. I mean, who could? This perfectly illustrates just how unlikely I am to truly prepare myself. So, for right now, I will continue my jogs. I will notice the luxuries that may or may not follow me on my gap year.

And lastly, I pledge to be wholly underprepared for my gap year, but flexible and adaptable in everything I do.