The following post was written by Global Gap Year Fellow, Ayanna Philips.

Puerto Rico has been quite an adventure as I’ve explored numerous areas such as Rio Grande, El Yunque, Luquillo, Vieques, and more. As the days come closer to my departure, it is time that I reflect on my stay here. I definitely have had my ups and downs with transitioning to a new area with a completely different culture and environment, while also dealing with stages of homesickness. The beginning was a bit difficult as I needed to adjust to the fact that I would be in Puerto Rico for three months. Meaning three months without seeing friends and/or family, which is important to me. Since this was my first experience away from home for a long period of time, I had to figure out how to adapt and deal with my emotions/mental health in a healthy way. At first, nothing was working as I even considered leaving and heading back to North Carolina.

Eventually, with the help of my GGYF family and self-care things started to look up. My mood was better and I started to actually enjoy myself day by day. I went outside more and embrace the rainforest where nature was literally everywhere lol. I learned a lot at my first placement including how to saw, drill, plant, and paint. I even moved to a different location where I have been for the last 2 months and have loved it every second. I am so glad that I decided to stay on the island as I am going to definitely miss it once I leave.
Word of advice for future fellows:

It is normal to experience problems as you adjust to being away from home. You’ll have some ups and downs (if you don’t you’re lucky). Just remind yourself of your goals and aspirations as well as the reason you decided to take a gap year. Incorporate things you would do at home into your domestic or abroad life and make sure to practice self-care!