Seniors Take Gap Year to Serve, Travel and Refresh Before College

While most seniors will disperse to their chosen colleges or enter the working world after graduation, two seniors look to realize much more unique dreams, traveling abroad and experiencing the culture of other countries.

Grayson Carr
Senior Grayson Carr has postponed entering the college scene and will instead travel abroad, backpacking throughout Europe during the coming school year.

“I want to get to know the societies,” Grayson said. “I’ve been to [Europe] before with my parents and sister but it was really rushed. I saw a lot of things, but I want to go back just to take it slower and get to know people.”

Grayson thinks that the experience will be truly beneficial, allowing him to experience distinctive cultures and see new things, as well as giving him the opportunity to decide what he wants to do with his life.

“This allows me some time to figure out what my interests are,” Grayson said. “Plus, I just want to travel.”

He plans to leave in September and will be gone for almost a year, backpacking through Ireland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France and finally Spain. He plans to attend many museums and local places, interacting with the people and experiencing every aspect of the different cultures.

“I will live exceedingly cheaply, hostels and then camping out when I cannot afford even that,” Grayson said. “The hostels have a system where people staying in them can work for people around that area, so I can make a couple euros or pounds or whatever the currency there is.”

In order to fund the trip, Grayson will work full-time this summer. His parents will also chip in some money and his graduation gifts will make up a large sum of the money. In addition, he hopes to avoid the costs of expensive plane flights by working on a boat.

“I’m trying to contact Harbor Masters in Boston or New York City hoping to work on a ship over to Dublin because that would give me some extra cash and get me over there,” Grayson said.

As from the college application process, it has not been different from that of his peers. He got accepted into various colleges but will wait and reapply next year because he thinks his interests will change.

“I had to write college essays and get transcripts and all that,” Grayson said. “I think it will be weird keeping in contact with friends when all of them are going to college and experiencing dorm life and I’ll mostly be by myself.

He chose to travel alone due to his desire for self-discovery and to stick to his own agenda. Though he admits that he will get very lonely, he thinks that this is a part of the experience.

“I know I will get lonely,” Grayson said. “I even hope I’ll get lonely because I think that’ the only way to really find my limit and get to know myself.”

His parents, despite obvious safety concerns, completely support his decision and respect the fact that he wants to travel and wait a year before college.

His sister, sophomore Emma Carr, thinks that his gap year will be a great experience for im, although she will miss having him around.

“Grayson is the truest friend I have,” Emma said. “I can’t comprehend how much I’ll miss him, but at the same time I’m so happy he’s going. I know he’s going to change, grow and learn so much about himself.”

Looking ahead, Grayson sees much more traveling on the horizon. It is one of the biggest passions, and he feels that it is a great way to experience the world around him and appreciate the diverse world we live in.

Sasha Fry
Senior Sasha Fry plans to spend the upcoming year volunteering in New Zealand and South Africa working with a program called Intern Abroad. She will first travel to New Zealand for three months to help disabled individuals who are trying to find jobs or are uneducated. Then, she plans to take a three-month break, followed by a trip to South Africa to do community service and help local children.

“I’ve always felt like the universal person,” Sasha said. “It’s the only thing that felt right. Education is definitely important to me, but I think putting my life first and trying to give to others is more important at this point.”

Sasha feels that the trip will be a good way to experience a new way of living and also undergo some self-discovery.

“I’ve felt a little lost over the past few years, and I think I need to do this to kind of get back to myself,” Sasha said.

As for housing, she will either be staying in an apartment with other volunteers or living with home stay families in the different countries. She will take a week off in New Zealand for free time to travel around the country, but besides that she will mostly be participating in various types of community service.

Sasha was accepted to the University of Chicago and will likely either defer there or attend community college after her year abroad. Her parents support her decision and agree that it will be a great experience assuming that she attends college afterward.