Sophie joins Julia to discuss her Latin America Gap Semester, as well as her experience as a German student on the program. Sophie wanted to take a gap year initially because she was burned out from her high school and wanted to travel and see the world. When she found TBB, her initial goals for her gap year shifted and she began to think of all the possibilities she could get from a gap semester--language skills (both in English and Spanish), cultural immersion (with American students as well as her host families in Ecuador and Bolivia), and a true knowledge of global issues through the TBB seminars. She found that a gap semester would allow her to learn things she’d never be able to at a university.
Sophie talks about some of the significant events that shaped her gap semester. One that sticks with her was the drought in Cochabamba. Many of the agriculture seminars as well as community speakers provided great insight into the drought--but she lived it in her homestay experience. There were days when she’d turn on the faucet to see nothing come out. Her host family would ask her not to shower or do laundry that day, but treated it like a normal day even though they didn’t know when the water would come back. Sophie remarks that she had never imagined anything like that, and it will continue to shape the way she thinks about and uses water in her everyday life in Germany.
Sophie’s understanding of personal social responsibility dramatically changed throughout the program, something she attributes to the TBB seminars. They opened her eyes to new perspectives, others’ life experiences, and the role of her identity. She says that these seminars taught her about true critical thinking and made her begin to question what responsible consumerism is and what career path best suits her to do good in the world.
Sophie’s advice to prospective gap year students: Get out of your comfort zone and strive for personal growth, beyond just fun and adventure. If you do it right, you will find both!