GGYF Orientation

Unanticipated Attitudes

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Katie Huge.

As I strangled my last goddamn grapefruit, forcing out every drop of juice, all I thought about was how tired my arms were and that they were about to fall off my shoulders. I had completely lost track of time and throughout my exhausting, citrus-juicing haze, I was slowly coming to two realizations: 1) I now had a much greater appreciation for why fresh-squeezed juice was so expensive, and 2) This would be my last shift at the restaurant I’d come to love. Where had the time gone?

With my gap year quickly approaching, I found myself retreating into things that felt familiar and avoiding everything new that came up in front of me. I worked a busy schedule at the restaurant, spent time with my oldest volleyball friends, cooked the usual fried eggs that I loved. What I didn’t […]

By |September 11th, 2017|GGYF Orientation, Pre-departure|

Unexpected Happenings

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Jennings Dixon.

I really don’t know what to say. These past few months have been utterly, undeniably, unexpected. If you had told me a year ago that I was not going to college this fall, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had told me a year ago that I was going to spend this year in China and Southeast Asia, I really wouldn’t have believed you. I didn’t even know what a gap year was a year ago. I just thought once a person graduated from high school, they would directly move on to college without a second glance. Apparently, that rule does not apply to everyone.

It is strange to think that I am doing something so unconventional. Seeing all of my closest friends move on to college has been weird. For the past thirteen years of my life, they […]


The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Janis Arrojado.

I’ve put a lot of thought into the song that will play when my plane touches down in Ecuador. It’s my first time traveling alone, and I know that I will need the boost of courage and inspiration that music gives me. After listening to various artists and albums, I have concluded that “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield will be my landing anthem. It’s upbeat and gives me feelings of confidence and motivation, which are two things I’ll definitely need as I begin my gap year.

Growing up, I never had the plan to take a gap year. I thought that after high school I would go straight to college and then find a job. However, this linear thinking changed when the time for college decisions came. I stressed about choosing where I wanted to go to college, what I wanted to study, […]

Changing with the Tides of Time

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Natalie Barth.

When I was younger, my father taught me how to swim in the ocean. He taught me how to deal with all sorts of waves that I may encounter. Since then, I have spent hours in the ocean, surfing, swimming, and simply floating in its grandeur.

The ocean is always changing, shifting, and evolving. The formation of the waves change with the phases of the moon, so it is necessary to learn to deal with each circumstance. There are the waves that are incredibly severe – the ones that will destroy you if you let them. If this wave encapsulates you, you become intertwined with the roaring ocean. You remain overcome with the absolute chaos of it all, stuck in the disaster with no escape. However, it does not last forever and eventually the water becomes tranquil once again. […]

Born to Adventure

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Viktoria Alston.

If you asked six-year-old me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I’d say, “an adventurer.” Then you’d laugh, pat me on the head, and assume I’d figure out a “real” career when I was older.

As I grew older, I realized that “adventurer” isn’t something you can put on a resumé. It’s not a job you can apply for, and you sure as heck aren’t going to get paid for it (little did I know). You might figure I should drop that dream, right? Well, here I am preparing to take a fully-funded gap year abroad.

I came into the two-week Global Gap Year Institute completely unprepared. I knew I wanted to go to Peru, but I didn’t know why I was going, what I wanted to do, or how I was supposed to stretch $7,500 over one […]

Why Do What Is Expected?

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Shelby Watson .

“I expect you to go to high school, graduate, and go to college.” This is what I have been told that I would do my entire life – no ifs, ands, or buts about it – until I decided to go against the grain and challenge that expectation. Throughout all of the craziness of senior year with applying to colleges and scholarships, I found out about the Global Gap Year Fellowship (GGYF) program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The description was more than intriguing: a year of service abroad before going to college. This was my chance to get away from the everyday classroom-based learning environment and experience life in a new way. I knew I had to apply.

Much to my surprise, my parents were supportive and let go of their previous expectations for me. […]

Cary, North Carolina: A Flight of Fear

The following post was written by Gap Year Fellow Georgia Morgan.

One of my best friends has always said, “If it doesn’t scare you, it’s not worth doing.” She claims that if something you’re aspiring towards doesn’t at least scare you slightly, then it probably won’t help you grow in the areas you need most. I’ve always been a big dreamer with wondrous goals and aspirations. I told myself I was going to travel the world, do my best to defend human rights, and save our planet. Here I am now, with a very unique opportunity to “travel the world” and serve communities in partnership, and yeah, you could say I’m slightly terrified.

The past two weeks on UNC’s campus at the Global Gap Year Institute have proved to be just as informative, exhausting, and exhilarating as I had anticipated. Each day I joined nine other wide- eyed, ambitious souls in fascinating […]

The Perfect Storm

The following entry was written by Gap Year Fellow MaryBeth Thomas.

Cicadas ring. A symphony of castanets. Music echoing through each and every crevice of night. Their song flourishes over individual brown and red brick, crossing over metal bars formed from a blacksmith’s careful touch, graciously anchoring one edifice to another, as if to protect the residents of Ram’s Village Apartments, entranced by strategic antics of volleyball, basketball, and tennis players prancing on the courts in the distance from toppling down onto the car swept asphalt below. The roadway is marked by a meticulous mason’s craft and a 25 mile sign for a cross walk. The words, Fire Lane repeatedly tattooed across the surface.

I shift my gaze to weathered branches of shrubbery, beaten down by the all too infamous humidity of Chapel Hill. Even my limbs have yet to adjust to this. Similar to the bushes hanging in the […]