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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Gaining Enlightenment on My Gap Year

I've always struggled with being wrong. But I think everyone does. No one likes to be told they're wrong, and I do things not to necessarily avoid being wrong, but at least to try being right. I read because I want to know more, I exercise and eat right (how I think is right, certainly I could be wrong) because I want to be healthier, I want to be a doctor because I want to be able to help people the most I can. I never knew that I could be wrong and swear I was right. I've been doing this my whole life, I've been wrong about so many things, I am wrong about so many things, and I will be wrong about so many more. But the one thing I swear to have right, is that being wrong is okay, better yet, it's a good thing. I always liked math in school, mostly because there was only one right answer, it was comforting for me knowing I was one of two possible outcomes, right or wrong. It was trepidation that kept me from embracing other subjects where I could be right in more ways than one, because I could also be wrong in so many more ways. It was a fear of being wrong that kept me from being right, I wanted a formula to follow to get me somewhere right, but life isn't like that. And it wasn't until I learned this, until I learned to be okay with being wrong, in every aspect of life, that I could finally begin to ask (answering comes later) myself some important questions. It's vital to embrace failure.

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My Parents Visit Me on My Gap Year

As of yet, I'm the only person in the WorldStamp Gap Year cohort who's had her parents visit us during our volunteer service, and it's been AMAZING! My dad came to visit in India, and my mom just left Guatemala yesterday. I'm really thankful that I chose a Gap Year program which allows my parents to come see the amazing work that we're doing, as well as letting them travel around with us!

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Figuring Out What's Important on My Gap Year

What's your biggest strength?

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Connections, Growth, and Gratitude: Realizations during my Gap Year

If someone had told me one year ago that I would be traveling to Guatemala to participate in volunteer work and swimming through caves with just candles to guide the way, I would have laughed at the idea. Being here in Guatemala now, I still can't believe it. I have already experienced more than most people do in a lifetime. WorldStamp Gap Year has given me the tools and the experiences to really know what is important in life. While there will always be bumps along the way (like eating bad street food) there's nothing better in this world than to see it and experience it for yourself.

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Feeling the love for traveling on my gap year

School for the kids of Vuelta Grande started last Monday. It was the 16th of January and the excitement started in my Guatemalan host family. My adorable "hermanita" (little sister) Gabriela was so excited in the morning that she shouted through the whole house at 7am "BUENOS DIAS JANAAAAA" which was really impressive because she didn't talk at all when it was early morning on the other days. She made me really excited to go to Vuelta Grande and meet all the students. Our ride to service every morning is the purest meditation for me. We first drive through Antigua, which is my favorite city so far, and I always have a smile on my face when we go through it. I see all the beautiful restaurants and bars and all the happy people who are just enjoying life. After we pass Antigua we get on this beautiful road all the way up to Vuelta Grande. This is the most stunning trek to work I've ever had. It gives me so much energy just to look out the window and see all the mountains, trees, trails, clouds, birds, bushes, volcanoes, the blue sky and the peaceful sun. Mother Earth is just so wonderful.

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