Q&A with Alexa ’13

Can you talk about how the decision to take a gap year came about? Had you been thinking about doing these trips for a long time or did the university encourage it?

I wanted to take a gap year since the end of junior year (in high school), and Harvard really encourages students to take them!

Did you know any other girls from your class who also took a gap year?

Ellie ’13 took a gap year, and it was really fun to hear about and share each other’s experiences.

What inspired you to chose Peru and Western China over any other place?

I had always wanted to go to Machu Picchu and the Amazon, and I found a month-long program that was travel-oriented so I got to see a good amount of Peru. My grandfather is Greek but grew up in Shanghai, so I had always wanted to go to China. I had considered doing the Where There Be Dragons trip to China during the fall, but at first 3-months seemed daunting. I interned in LA after I came back from Peru between October and January and by the end of January felt like I was ready to really push myself out of my comfort zone, so I took a leap of faith and signed up for the program two weeks before it left. It turned out to be so incredible and one of the best experiences of my life!

Did you ever have second thoughts about starting college a year later than your peers?

It was definitely difficult at times to watch my friends leave and start college, but I think going to Peru that first month really helped initially, and my friends were so supportive during my year off. It was also really fun to visit them at schools. Hearing about their experiences before I went to college helped me a lot my freshman year as well. Looking back on it, I wouldn’t trade my gap year for anything!”

Could you describe what your day to day life was like on these trips?

Pretty much every day was different on the trips – we were always moving around, and we got to explore so much of the countries I visited because we had a lot of time. I met a ton of new people, saw really beautiful places, learned a lot about myself and the world. It was so awesome and now that I’m a junior in college, I am not sure when or if I will ever get that kind of time to really just explore and travel like that so I am very grateful to have had that opportunity and experience.

Do you still keep in touch with any of the people you met on your trips? Are you planning to go back to Peru or China?

I would love to go back to Peru or China, and I do keep in touch with people I met on my trips! It’s been really fun keeping up with everyone and seeing what they’re up to.

Would you recommend taking a gap year to Marlborough students? Why or why not?

I would absolutely recommend taking a gap year to any Marlborough student!! And the great thing is that gap years can take any form. That unstructured part was definitely scary at first. It was kind of hard for me to wrap my head around what to do with the year because there is no “right” answer, and I think that ended up being the point. Regardless of what you choose to do, the time between graduating high school and starting college is a great moment to reflect and also to learn about yourself outside of the context of school.