Familiar Feelings with Different Horizons

To be perfectly honest, it was a little bit eerie. Nearly five years ago to the day I was sitting in the same terminal at LAX, getting ready to board my flight to Guatemala City and begin my gap semester with Carpe Diem. Now, here I am again, this time rearing up to begin a gap semester as a leader with ARCC.

Pre departure in 2017 vs. 2022: Back to living out of a backpack!

There are plenty of similarities to my circumstances the last time I found myself embarking on a journey like this. Just like in 2017, I just graduated in the spring, spent the summer in the wilderness with Adventure Treks, and the path before me is filled with unknowns. While it feels so similar, I can’t help but recognize how fundamentally different this experience will be. Leading a gap semester is quite different from participating as a student. This time I’m not merely hoping to have a great time, learn about new cultures, gain new skills, and connect with new people — I am responsible for making all of those things happen for our 11 students. It’s an intimidating thing, especially knowing how much I got out of my semester as a student.

A photo with my co-leader Taya
A photo with some of the other ARCC leaders for fall gap!

While I know the path ahead will be full of challenges, I am comforted by my confidence in my own ability to carry out this mission. After all, I am not the same person I was sitting in that LAX terminal five years ago. I have learned, grown, and evolved from my experiences since then. Experiences like working four seasons in outdoor education that have helped me build my confidence in navigating student issues, from physical challenges on mountain trails to mental health crises to interpersonal conflict. Experiences like having planned and executed trips to the South Pacific, Scandinavia, Colombia, Turkey, and Mexico City that have built my travel skills and broadened my cultural horizons. Experiences like going to college across the country where I built a new community and made a different place feel like home. A lot has happened in my life since 2017, and I’m grateful that these years have allowed me to feel confident going into this semester.

A new group, a new destination, and a new role present so many opportunities for this journey. I’m hopeful I can provide an amazing experience to my students while also allowing myself to continue to grow and learn along the way. I’m beyond excited to explore Southeast Asia, a region I have so little familiarity with and have long destined to visit. I’m curious as to what it will feel like to return home late this fall, and how this experience will continue to shape me in the time that follows.

And so, I’ve decided to restart my blog, as I embark on a different kind of journey then the one in 2017. This time there is no end date or four year plan awaiting me. I get a lot of strange looks when I tell people what I’m doing for the next couple of years, and I understand the confusion. I may not be forging ahead with a prestigious grad school program or a well-paid office job, but I am in no rush to get back on the treadmill that is the conventional standards of success for a recent college graduate. I am so grateful to be working in a field that allows me to travel the world, meet incredible people, and live a wildly diverse everyday life. Eventually, I too will find a more sustainable and traditional set up, but for the time being, I’m enjoying the ride. Hopefully, you all enjoy the views along the way.

Our first group photo at LAX before flying to Vietnam

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