It's always a pleasure to meet the students who will be traveling with us in the fall. Introducing Sarah R., our first student from Canada, who talks about her interest in Winterline, what she's looking to learn while traveling, and how taking a gap year will help shape her future.
Q: Why did you decide to enroll in a gap year program? Have you always been interested in taking a gap year?
A: Absolutely. Right out of high school, I rushed to university. While I had a great time, 17 was just too early of a start. Regardless, I went on to college for a year, but decided after talking with my parents that I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I felt like I needed to experience more places, opportunities, and career paths that I may never have thought of. I think Winterline will do just that. It's the benchmark of gap year programs to help “find yourself”, so to speak, because it offers such diverse programing: working with animals, people from other countries, the arts, technology, business, etc. with arguably some of the world’s brightest minds.
Q: The concept of taking a gap year program is relatively new for many students. When were you first introduced to the idea of taking a gap year?
A: My father is actually the one who pushed me to do this. I don’t mean pushed in a forcing way, but I was on the fence for sure. On one hand, I'd be living the comfortable life I know in Canada: wake up, go to class, study, hang with friends, sleep, and repeat for the next eight months. On the other hand, I would be traveling to new places with new people, which can be somewhat daunting in comparison: waking up in a new country with new cultures and foods, making new friends, and not always knowing what the day will bring. While it's easy to choose the former scenario, when an opportunity like taking a constructive gap year to 10 countries is staring you in the face, you really cannot say "No". Whether it’s getting to know the world around you or gaining new life skills, I think Winterline will provide the knowledge and experiences that I couldn’t possibly gain from a lecture hall.
Q: How many gap year programs did you research? How did you decide on Winterline?
A: I actually applied to the program in its very early planning stages. Talk about keen. My father actually told me to write a personal essay that he would send to a friend of his for “the trip of a lifetime”. I love writing and I was tired of studying calculus, so I wrote the essay. A year later my father came to me with good news: Winterline was going to be a reality for me! Once I heard about Winterline, I really didn’t need to look further.
Q: Have you ever traveled abroad?
A: I'm very lucky to say that I have. My family and I have travelled and moved around since I was about 3 months old. I have personally lived in three countries and travelled to four continents with both large groups, as well as on my own. It’s true when people say the travel bug has an incurable and contagious bite.
Q: What do you expect to gain from your gap year program and while traveling abroad?
A: I really can’t emphasize the sheer amount of opportunity I'm afforded by traveling with Winterline. I mean, beginning with the staff, they're all such incredible people, unlike anybody I've ever met. They will be tremendous mentors. I'm also excited about the world-class organizations in the program – MIT, BMW, and the Smithsonian Institute. They're organizations that I wouldn’t have been able to work with in my wildest dreams. I must say, I have never maintained a bicycle, driven a tractor, and I'm regretfully the most nervous public speaker. I'm ready to improve upon the many skills that I've been introduced to, and discover new ones that I've never endeavoured.
Q. What excites you most about traveling with Winterline in September?
A: Although I'm most excited for the travel in its entirety, I think all of the components of this program work so harmoniously, that without one of the cogs the others wouldn’t be possible. Realistically, I could sign up for cooking school, driving school, business classes, and then go to Thailand on my own time, but I have never seen such a well-organized trip with such huge minds behind it. I think the networking opportunities, the teamwork, and lifelong friends will be priceless. Plus, I've never heard of a program, which allows you to travel to 10 countries, learn so many skills, work with such smart people, and make such incredible connections.
Q. What country intrigues you the most? What activity or learning experience captivates you about Winterline?
A: The entire world is a wonder to me, whether it’s Fish Creek Park in my hometown of Calgary Alberta, or the legendary streets of Bangkok. I am just as enthusiastic for one country as I am the next. But working hands-on with reptiles at the Sea Turtle Conservancy will definitely be a highlight. I love animals of all species and color.
Q. Do you have an idea of what you would like to do in the future?
A: That’s a tough one, because as I grow up, I realize more and more that people can do many different things in a lifetime. Be it a 22 year-old college student or a 65 year-old with 35 years in business, it's a tragedy to feel like you cannot do everything you want. So, I would say I want to try my best to learn all that life offers me. Take every opportunity, wherever it may land me. Right now, I'm incredibly passionate about science and music. I'd love to have a marriage of those two passions. As of right now? I am set on big game conservation in the Ngoro Ngoro crat (the Ngorongoro Crater) area of Northern Tanzania, Africa, rich with elephants, rhinos, buffalos, cheetahs, gazelles, etc.
Q: Do you plan to complete your college studies?
A: I'm currently enrolled in Carleton University in Canada studying Biology with a concentration in Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior. I will be taking a one-year leave, but plan to return next fall. Who knows though, Winterline may open another door for me.