How a Gap Year Changed my Best Friend

How a Gap Year Changed my Best Friend

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When my best friend Kallie graduated from high school last year she didn’t spend the summer picking out bedding or searching for a roommate. Instead, she spent the summer prepping for an incredible year of travel and growth and change. My friend Kallie spent this past year taking a gap year. According to Kallie it was the best decision she has ever made.

Kallie always knew that she wanted to do something different between high school and college. She never knew exactly what that “different” thing would be, but she knew it would be amazing. Kallie spent nearly six months researching and planning the perfect year. Ultimately she decided on an incredible itinerary that started with two months in Cape Eluthera, Bahamas at The Cape Eluthera Institute. After a quick pit stop back in Florida, she made her way to Baja, Mexico where she spent three weeks on NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) sailing program. Finally Kallie ended her year studying in Seville, Spain at Universidad de Pablo Olivide for four months.

Kallie learned a lot over the course of one year. One of the coolest parts of her year was discovering her passion: the environment. Without realizing while she was planning her year, all of Kallie’s programs seemed to somehow connect to the environment or conservation. The Cape Eluthera Institute is a facility that combines research and education to enhance conservation initiatives. While there Kallie was educated on the science behind conservation, the marine biology of the Bahamian ecosystem, and up close and personal with a few sharks. On the NOLS program the biggest struggle (but also the greatest teaching tool) was learning how to survive with minimal comforts. Each week food had to be rationed so that it would last an entire week, but also not be wasted at the end of the week. The program focused on living with the environment not fighting against it. Finally in Spain while studying at Universidad de Pablo Olivide one of the classes Kallie took was environmental science. After her three different trips Kallie really became aware of how much she enjoys learning about and helping the environment.

Besides learning about a field she really enjoys, Kallie learned a lot about herself. One of the greatest lessons she learned was truly relishing every moment of everyday. According to Kallie, that lesson was also one of the hardest. While being so far away from home it was very difficult for her to stay in touch with friends and family. Some parts of her year she was not allowed any contact with anyone and other parts she had to overcome time differences and spotty connections. What she had to do was learn to not stress about not being able to communicate with loved ones. What she realized was everyday is an adventure and to live for those adventures.

Kallie said her third greatest takeaway was enjoying the people you meet in life. This, she says, will be her greatest advantage in going to college next year. Kallie knew no one on her programs. She had to start each program completely alone, but ended each with amazing new friends. Kallie thinks this will help her start college with an open mind to every person she meets. She knows now that she can put herself out there and have an amazing time at college.

Kallie feels that without taking her gap year she would not be the same person she is today. Her year was full of growth and change that will only enhance her life and her college experience.

Note from Kallie: “If you are taking a gap year, you are the smartest person I know. If you are thinking about taking a gap year, do it!”

Cover Image Credit: Kallie Atterbury

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13 Style Mistakes Every Girl Made In The 2000s

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3. Jeans under skirts

4. A "poof" with two braids

...thanks Lizzie Mcguire

5. The solo "poof" with straight hair

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Everyone Should Visit NYC Once In Their Lifetime

Alicia Keys said it best, the streets will make you feel brand new and you will leave feeling more inspired than ever before.

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For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to live in New York City. I've been to a lot of places and this one is by far my favorite of them all.

Not only does this city have the ability to make me feel so incredibly alive, but every single time I have visited, I have left ready to conquer anything and everything that comes my way.

There is just something about the bright lights, busy streets, and hustle of this city that is unbelievably inspiring and admirable to me. It really is the concrete jungle where dreams are made of.

A trip to New York City is always a good idea, and you will never run out of things to do and see. So if you aren't quite convinced you want to see The Big Apple for yourself yet, here are a couple of reasons why you should.

#1 The Buildings.

It wouldn't be NYC without the buildings after all. The architecture is, to put it lightly, f***ing amazing. The linear streets, mix between old and new designs, and all of the unique colors and lights are beautiful beyond belief and pictures don't do them enough justice.

#2 The Culture.

Known as the melting pot of the world, the city is so beautifully diverse compared to the rest of the country and it's incredible to be able to see all of the cultural differences all throughout one city.

#3 The Food.

Two words: Pizza and Bagels. I can not stress this enough, EAT ALL OF THE PIZZA AND BAGELS! I literally think I could live off of those two things. Another good thing about New York is that you can eat for super cheap if you are on a budget, because theres guaranteed to be a pizza place on every block with $1 slices and food vendors lined up on the sidewalks with hot dogs and pretzels.

#4 The Entertainment. 

Broadway shows, Off Broadway, Concerts, Comedy, Art, you name it and it's there. Anything you could ever want to do, you can do in this city. One of my favorite shows I've been to was the Blue Man Group. I laughed so hard I thought I was going to pee my pants, and I liked it so much I even went back for a second time!


No matter who you are or what you like to do, this city has something to offer you! I truly believe that everyone needs to experience this city at least once in their lifetime. So start planning, save up, and go explore! And if you end up hating it....at least you can get pizza for a dollar a slice.

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