Gap Year

Post-Brazil

by Kristen Lee

Growing up can be a delicate process. There are incidents from my childhood that I have yet to remember. There are these fundamental frames that have outlined every part of who I am – my two older brothers, my socio-economic class, my Asian-American heritage. There are words and phrases, body language and sole moments that I remember vividly – ones that have made an impression. And there are the invisible words and phrases that underlie the ones I remember, perhaps making a deeper impression. The core of me has been built upon a culminating of various moments, ones that have moved me, at whatever age, to become who I am now. And above that core, the  million more various moments impacting me to some degree.

When I chose to take a bridge year after high school, I was choosing to learn how to live a life I was proud […]

By |August 8th, 2014|Post Gap Year|

Why #firstworldproblems Shouldn’t Exist

You’ve all seen it. Facebook memes sporting “#firstworldproblems” to poke fun at the trivial complaints and nuances people in the “first world” express. Or to further stress the matter of “first worlders” taking everything for granted.  “I hate when the wall outlet is too far from my bed so I have to get up to charge my phone” or “I hate when I tell them no pickles, and they still give me pickles.” The memes also imply, whether intended to or not, that those not raised or residing in the “first world” take much less for granted and appreciate more. But here’s the truth: Whether you were born in a “first,” “second,” or “third” world country, you’re still human. Some things you will like, some things you won’t. Some things you will appreciate, some things you will complain about. We are all humans with opinions, and just because you […]

Thai Language: Logic and Insight into Thai Culture

Travelling halfway across the world to a region of tonal languages, I was daunted by my complete unfamiliarity of the Thai language concerning tones, script, and that I only knew how to say one word. But four months later, I have come to love the Thai language for its simplicity, logic, and insight into Thai lifestyle.

Let me begin this post by saying one thing: Thai people love rice. “Gin khaao leeo”  means “I already ate,” but would be literally translated into English as “I ate rice already.” The word “khaao” means “rice.” But wait…I didn’t eat any rice. I just had some Pad Thai. Oh well, the Thai language forces you to say that. Why? Because the Thai language was developed around culture and tells us about what’s important to Thai people. So, what’s the staple of Thai cuisine? You guessed it, rice! To further this point, if you’re […]

13/04/2014: Wrapping Up the Gap

What can I say? Suddenly I’m about to go back to the USA, and I have no idea what to write. No blog post could possibly cover all of the emotions I’m feeling, nor every experience I’ve had, nor every friend I’ve made, nor everything I’ve learned. All I can say is this: if I’ve gained anything from this gap year, it’s an acute understanding that I know a lot less than I thought I did. In fact, I’ve come to realize that I don’t know much at all. I’ve gained so much valuable life experience since I left the States ten months ago, but the truth is, I still have a lot of growing to do. 

Before I left for this year, my aim was to mature, to become what I used to think of as an “adult.” Now, I’m not sure what that word even means. I think […]

By |April 24th, 2014|Post Gap Year|

measuring time.

The following post is from Kristen Lee, a 2014 Global Gap Year Fellow. UNC’s Global Gap Year Fellowship is housed in and staffed by the Campus Y. Find out more about the fellowship on our GGYF Facebook page!” 

With two weeks left, right now would be the perfect time for a blog post on the pre-goodbye. The aching pains and bittersweet vision of seeing my friends and family back home. But that’s where I get stuck. I am, well, home.

The pain of leaving southern Brazil will be greater than the pain I had felt when I left Chapel Hill. I’m leaving a project unfinished. A great work of art, and I had only seen a corner of it. A family tree, and I have only sat beneath her shade. It may have been the life Brazil has shown me, or it might have been the intense unknown that has fostered my glowing fire and love for Brazil.

I don’t believe in time anymore. Only […]

Summer Camp

As I mentioned in one of my more recent posts, the Burmese Refugee Project would be starting a summer camp for the Shan refugees engaged in our after school English tutoring program. This past Monday marked DAY ONE. In total, thirty kids are in attendance. The students are split into three classes based on level of English proficiency which tends to also correspond with age. I take the youngest group which consists of fifteen kids, half of the students.

The camp runs from 9am to 3pm, but I’m usually at the school by 8 to prepare for my lesson and the fun activity for the day. We begin with an hour and a half lesson of English, which I have discovered is WAY too long for my kids. 10:30 marks the beginning of activity time, which the kids love! The activities range from craft projects, such as making a beaded […]

Cambodia

At the beginning of March, I left Thailand for Cambodia. My two month tourist visa was close to expiration, so I had to buy another one. The first five days of my vacation I spent in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Riding across the city in a taxi, I was scared for my life. Let me just say that I previously thought my experience with roads in Lebanon was uncomparable to any other country, but Phnom Penh proved me wrong. People were turning a two lane road into three lanes. But then you have to add three more imaginary, non-existent lanes for the motorbikes and tuk-tuks whizzing between cars.

Although it’s Cambodia’s biggest city, Phnom Penh has more of a big town feel with its lack of skyscrapers and compactness usually found in a city’s center. As a lone traveler, I wanted to tag along with some other backpackers […]

by the side of highway BR – 116

The following post is from Kristen Lee, a 2014 Global Gap Year Fellow. UNC’s Global Gap Year Fellowship is housed in and staffed by theCampus Y. Find out more about the fellowship on our GGYF Facebook page!

By the side of highway BR – 116, I pull open my rickety gate, careful to make as little noise as possible as not to wake my host family. As I step onto my street, the morning sun hits my face. I squint my eyes, blinded by white light. I avert my gaze to my right side, to my left side, to my right. I skirt around the casual dog dung and cast away brick in the road, hop over a puddle to the side walk, and smoothly return to the unpaved road as to avoid a broken side walk section.

After a block, I pass the boy with bleached hair whose family separates recycling with the baby […]