The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow Angela Seo. Angela is spending her gap year in Ecuador with Global Citizen Year.

Before I leave for Ecuador, I want to reflect on what I will miss about home.

I’m going to miss the snow and how frozen roads meant no school.

I’m going to miss Korean food. I brought a bottle of Sriracha (though not Korean) to add a little bit of spiciness if I start missing the food my mom makes. I’m so excited to try Ecuadorian cuisine, but what will I do without my kimchi?

I will miss riding around aimlessly in the rain. When all you hear is the pitter-patter of raindrops hitting the car, but when you go under a bridge – just for a second – there is nothing but silence.

My family before I left for the airport

I’m going to miss belting out worship songs during Saturday service at church. The youth band has grown so much and I’m so proud of them.
I’m going to miss all my friends who’ve gone off to college now. You guys have made my experience in NC the best thing in the world. I’m going to miss our fun nights out and our field hockey days.

I’m going to miss my family. My mom, my dad, my siblings. I’m probably going to get homesick. I’m going to miss my dog waking me up at the same time every day because she wants to be walked.

I’m also going to miss it when UNC wins the National Championship this year (calling it right now!). I’m going to be happy because it’s my school but also mad because I won’t be there for it. But it’ll always a great day to be a Tar Heel no matter where I’m at in the world, so I’ll be celebrating either way.

I can’t help but think of Carolina.

Currently, I am at Global Citizen Year’s Global Launch at Stanford University. On Tuesday, I had lunch with Richard Harrill (UNC Campus Y Executive Director), Linda Frey (Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at Global Citizen Year), a donor, and several other fellows who are part of colleges with partnerships with Global Citizen Year. During this lunch, I realized how privileged I am to be part of a school that recognizes the importance of gap years and how much a year abroad can do to contribute to learning in a different way. I also realized how grateful I am that the Global Gap Year Fellowship fosters a community of fellows and supporters that will last for five years, if not more. When I heard about the way other universities were not recognizing gap years or building the supportive cohort UNC has built, it made me feel confident in my choice of choosing to be a part of the Global Gap Year Fellowship and choosing UNC to be my home for the next five years. I’m so excited to come back next fall to start my first year with a group of people who have gone through a similar journey as I have.

There have been so many frustrating times for me – from constantly getting my visa application rejected to feeling scared to leave home for so long – however, having my fellow fellows with me going through the same process and being able to talk to them has made my experience so much better. This shared experience is what makes the cohorts (both GGYF and GCY) so special.