Meet Devon Hardington, Class of 2016, as she shares her thoughts on Myth #6: “It’s Just a Glorified Vacation.”
At the beginnings of gap year, I romanticized ideas in my head of the months awaiting me, dreaming of glamorous travel and fun adventures all the time, forgetting that life is still life in every place you go. But, in the middle of our spring semester, I had a few days of rest in between our immersion experiences. During that time, I quickly realized this year would not be an easy one. It was during this time that I realized travel isn’t about five star resorts or fun foods or short mission trips or weekend adventures but that full cultural immersion provides rich, authentic, rare, and challenging experiences that leave a permanent stain on your memory. I was again reminded that the vast majority of this year was not a vacation but that I didn’t want it to be one because vacation would never provide me with the challenges and genuine learning experiences I was after.
As gap years are becoming increasingly more popular it’s pretty easy to scroll through a few Instagram photos and think you know what a gap year is all about. And it looks pretty great – beautiful landscapes of exotic locations complete with mountaintop scenes and blissful faces. However, all that these photos are showing nothing but these mountaintop experiences. Hardly ever will you see or understand the journey that this person is actually going on and what daily life actually looks like without physically being there or experiencing it. Because of this, gap years more often than not look like nothing more than an extended mission trip or a glorified excuse to take a year off from school.
I cannot speak for all gap years here but for KIVU this is just so far from the truth. Of course, spending a year living in a number of new and exciting places comes with numerous mountaintop experiences, but the journey up to these moments is what the majority of the year is like. Everyday brings a new day of struggles with language barriers, cultural barriers, living situations, and internship frustrations. Through each day of these struggles however, you are diving deeper into the root of these struggles and are constantly pushed towards little victories that gradually turn into your yearlong journey of perseverance and growth. Everyone will experience this a little differently, but you will have people with you to inspire and encourage you along the way to keep growing into your own journey.
Of course, gap year will probably be one of the most impactful, exhilarating and adventurous years of your life. But, day in and day out, you are learning, working and growing. It’s hard and it’s frustrating and it is not a vacation, but you are continually challenged in the most rewarding ways that lead to some of the highest highs as well as some of the lowest lows.
Devon Hardington, Class of 2016
Facebook: Devon Hardington