it's a choice

Authored By:

Rachel F.

The choice to take a gap year is, obviously, different for everybody. It takes a lot of consideration and several variables to even begin considering if taking a year between high school and college is right for you. On the senior-year timeline, I think that my choice to take a gap year was made kind of late in the game, as the option was never really on the table for me until a few months before decision day. It was a lot to consider- I had applied to several schools, found out about a new program at certain schools (none of which I had previously applied to), and was offered a gap year. There was a lot for me to choose from and I was overwhelmed. What it really came down to was what I really thought would be best for me, not only in my academics, but also in my life.

When the idea of a gap year was initially proposed to me, my parents had mentioned that there is no other time in my life where I will be this young and be able to live in another country. Living abroad is something I aim to do post-graduation, but it’s different when you’re 18/19 versus 23/24. I think that idea really solidified my decision to take a gap year. Extra time to spend traveling. Extra time to experience life. To do things I can’t do in America. That’s what I wanted. Of course, there’s more to my gap year than that. I wanted a program that would help me with my classes once I got to college, and would focus on something I’m interested in. Finding a gap year focused on language and culture was the perfect fit for me. Additionally, I decided that this new language program I had only found out about in February was something I really wanted to do. It would be a waste to study the same language at another college if I wouldn’t get the intended result- fluency. And that’s what this language program would afford me. After being waitlisted for the school with the language program I was aiming to get into, I decided just to defer my application until the next cycle. I accepted admission to another school, but deferred the entrance until next year. It was at that point that I knew I would be taking a gap year for sure. I wasn’t worried about getting into the other school, it was just a stressful wait.

In the beginning, I wasn’t completely on board with the idea of taking a gap year. Yes, I liked the thought of being able to spend time abroad, but I was a little bit apprehensive about being a year behind my peers who would be entering college in the fall. As one of the older students in my grade already, it was hard for me to wrap my head around being so much older than my classmates. After a while of thinking about it, I realized nobody actually really cares and I shouldn’t either. In college, you mingle with people from every year. Plus, it’s not like I’m the only person taking a gap year! Plenty of people do it. I decided I should be thinking about myself. I can be selfish in a situation like this. It is, after all, my life. I would hate to regret not taking this time to study abroad and to further myself as an individual.

Over the summer, I really began to psych myself up about the program. There were a lot of questions still left unanswered, but I wanted to get excited! Things were a little confusing to me at first with the way this program works, so there was a bit of an adjustment period. And I won’t lie, I had a really difficult first month, as I am the only gap year student in Japan. Still, I was able to find ways to help myself out of that situation and make the best of my few months here. An experience like this is bound to be a struggle in some aspect anyway, it just comes with the package. Being able to figure out the issue and work with it is the first step in being able to have the time of your life. I love the class I am taking at the language school because of its fast pace and ability to teach new things every day. I also love the fact that I am in Tokyo, probably my favorite city in the world. Overall, I believe I made the right decision to take a gap year. While it has been only two months, it feels like a lot longer. So much has happened within the past 2 months that I can’t believe my time here in Japan is almost over. Im absolutely thrilled that I made the decision to take a gap year.