I had a few reasons for taking a gap year:
1. I had worked very hard in high school and needed a break
2. I was interested in learning a language
3. I wanted to learn how to live on my own
but I'm not sure I really knew what I was getting into! So, here's my take on how those motivations have played out in my gap year.
1. Classes here are difficult and long- although the material is doable, the Chinese style of teaching is to bombard the students with a lot of material and expect memorization, which method I am not used to. I do study less than I did in high school, but it is a different kind of studying. My gap year is a lot of work- not so much the break I was hoping for. However, I like studying, and I'm starting to think maybe I didn't need such a big break from school in the first place!
2. I'm still interested in learning a language- that part of my gap year has fulfilled my expectations!
3. I expected independence, but I also expected a certain level of support that I haven't yet found here in Shanghai. Now that it is between semesters, I am living in an international students dorm on campus. I have been quite busy this month (taking harp lessons, tutoring, working), but it is still difficult to fill my time when I am on campus. I am responsible for all of my meals, meetings, budget, etc. It's definitely cool to be in complete control of my schedule.
My reasons for taking a gap year may not still be totally relevant, but I like my gap year so far! It's not quite what I was expecting, but I'm learning a lot about what I am looking for in the future.