An Awakening Experience on my Gap Year

This week has been the most emotional one yet. So far my WorldStamp gap year journey has been bitter sweet, as I previously described but I had a great awakening experience this week that brought out so many emotions. It was a strange feeling but a profound internal change.

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Gaining Confidence on my Gap Year

Today marks one month abroad on my WorldStamp gap year and it has been an incredible ride: the things I've seen, the friendships I've made, the challenges I've faced, and most importantly, the growth I have acquired. The feeling of fear is slowly coming back because I know in just a few weeks I will be in a new country, Vietnam, with new people! But this time, it will be with confidence and is outweighed by excitement; I am ready to dive in dauntlessly.
India is a country I have fallen in love with, which makes it ten times harder to leave this place in a few weeks! This week has consisted of many emotions as I experienced new things with my volunteer work and a trip to Varanasi! The best way to describe is bitter-sweet.

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10 Reasons To Take a Gap Year

According to the Huffington Post, here are ten reasons why you should take a gap year!  

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Growth and Transformation on My Gap Year in India

As I complete my third week of the WorldStamp gap year in India, I am realizing how much I have grown these past few weeks. It's amazing how a place can start to grow on you and suddenly not feel so foreign. About two weeks ago I distinctly remember being terribly sick and wanting to be nowhere else but back home. Now, after days of immersion and reflection, I cannot imagine myself leaving this beautiful country and the people who have made such a huge impact on my experience. Certainly, I am still miles away from home but the bonds I have formed with people along the way have reminded me to embrace each and every moment, whether it's at the Young Dreamer center or a day spent sightseeing. With this mind-set, I have learned to transform that feeling of nostalgia into empowerment and optimism. I cannot describe how thankful I am to have a place like India to call home while having the opportunity to immerse myself in a culture that is so different from mine. This alone is enriching my outlook on life. The fact that I get to make an impact and be a part of something so positive and beneficial on my gap year is truly rewarding.

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Forging Connections On My Gap Year

Today I started my volunteer work with the Women's Empowerment Program in India and I was grateful to be welcomed with the feeling of initial camaraderie. I thought to myself: "How will I face this language barrier? I have so much to say but it is definitely a challenge because we don't understand each other." As I sat in the classroom with my first group of 30-40 year old women, I had so many questions. For the sake of this language barrier, we started with basic introductions: name, age, number of family members, and where we lived. The director suggested that for the first day we just play some games so to my surprise one woman suggested UNO.

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Discovering a New Concept of “Time” During My Gap Year

Time is a peculiar concept. If it's a long wait at a red light at the intersection in front of your school that starts in two minutes, thirty seconds feel like eight hours. If it's a great night's sleep, one where your eyes close and the next thing you know it's morning, eight hours feel like thirty seconds. Our culture is obsessed with time. This is a blatant obsession, like an avid NFL fan always talking about the next game or a band nerd that fails to participate in a conversation without mentioning that one time at band camp. We let the concept of time absolutely consume our lives. We base jobs on how much time we'll spend working, then we calculate how much that time is worth. When a person is diagnosed with terminal cancer, the subtitle to the diagnosis is always how much time that person is estimated to have left. Often times old couples advertise the years they've spent together, sometimes before they even introduce themselves. What's something in common between anyone younger than seven and older than seventy? The first thing they tell you is their age.

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Discovering a New Concept of “Time” During My Gap Year

Time is a peculiar concept. If it's a long wait at a red light at the intersection in front of your school that starts in two minutes, thirty seconds feel like eight hours. If it's a great night's sleep, one where your eyes close and the next thing you know it's morning, eight hours feel like thirty seconds. Our culture is obsessed with time. This is a blatant obsession, like an avid NFL fan always talking about the next game or a band nerd that fails to participate in a conversation without mentioning that one time at band camp. We let the concept of time absolutely consume our lives. We base jobs on how much time we'll spend working, then we calculate how much that time is worth. When a person is diagnosed with terminal cancer, the subtitle to the diagnosis is always how much time that person is estimated to have left. Often times old couples advertise the years they've spent together, sometimes before they even introduce themselves. What's something in common between anyone younger than seven and older than seventy? The first thing they tell you is their age.

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Parents Joining the WorldStamp Experience

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Be You: Cultivating Self-Love on My Gap Year

The last week in Guatemala we had a reflection with just our group. At the end everyone said what they like and appreciate about each of us. Almost everyone said that I am always happy and always in a good mood. A lot of people said this during this trip and it always makes me really happy. I am in general a really happy and positive person but before this gap year I had bad days and wasn't always in a good mood. The year before this gap year I didn't exactly know if I wanted to take a gap year or not because I was scared if I could handle it. After I applied and got accepted I had concerns about whether I would like it or not, if I would get really homesick, if the group was going to like me or if I would be able to handle the challenges. But then one day I was so excited to go on this trip and I promised myself: Jana, these are 9 months of your entire life.. this is such a short time and it's a gift to have this time for personal growth, so I will enjoy every single day of it!

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Overcoming Unforeseen Gap Year Challenges

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.

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