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Overcoming Unforeseen Gap Year Challenges

March 9, 2017

My high school was located in south central Pennsylvania in a small town that no one had ever heard of. The town consisted of a Dollar General , a Subway, a handful of other restraunts, and a whole lot of cows. We liked to joke that we were in the middle of nowhere, until one day an administrator got fed up and told us that we were not in the middle of nowhere, but rather we were in the middle of everywhere.



Now, it really does feel like that tiny Pennsylvanian town was the middle of everywhere. I'm currently in Costa Rica with my WorldStamp Gap Year cohort, living in Providencia, a small town of approximately 175 people, most of whom are coffee or blackberry farmers. We're surrounded by mountains, cell service is spotty, and WiFi is nearly nonexistent. The roads here are mostly dirt, and it's over an hour to the nearest big town and supermarket. The people here make due with three little tiendas, filled with packaged snacks, rice, beans, oil, and other essentials. I think it's safe to call this tiny town themiddle of nowhere.

It's been a drastic change from the hustling tourist hub of Antigua , Guatemala. Most of us have embraced the change. Some are enjoying the peace of doing yoga next to a roaring river every morning. Some are taking advantage of the free time to read or practice new hobbies. Some are still catching up on sleep. If I'm completely honest, I haven't embraced the change. It's been incredibly tough for me here. I miss the energy of Antigua and the spontaneity that comes with living in a city. In Antigua and Jaipur, there was always an opportunity to take a tuktuk and go explore some new place. Here, there is not. It's all Providencia, all the time.

Here we have an abundance of free time, the most we've had by far in any country, and frankly, I have no clue what to do with myself. In the past two weeks, I've read five books and averaged 10 hours of sleep a night. The days are blending together: wake up, breakfast, work, lunch, read, dinner, sleep. Repeat. It's been hard for me. I miss the "anything's possible" feeling of a city, the way a night can change drastically by who you meet, or where you go, because you never know what you'll find.

Everyday is getting better. I'm slowly getting over Antigua and adjusting to life here. It gets better with every soccer game, every home cooked meal by my host mother (who is the best cook I've ever met), and with every time my 4 year old host brother Kendall makes me laugh. Just as India or Guatemala were challenges to some of my cohorts, Costa Rica is my challenge. I'm starting to embrace it. The people living here in Providencia are amazing, and I don't want to wish my time with them away. Instead, I'm working towards seizing each day and taking advantage of my time here.