My family gap year (actually 5 months) report:
Well, we’re back home.
It feels crazy being home. The little things that first world countries take for granted–and you live without when you’re traveling–we have back now. I’m talking about unlimited hot water, clean clothes at your fingertips, and a pantry to graze through. But then it doesn’t feel crazy. It feels like we pressed pause on our lives and just resumed it once we go home.
I wouldn’t long-term-travel again, but I’m glad I went. I met some fun people from around the world, including: Hanna from Lillehammer, Norway; Poppy and Max from Dunedin, New Zealand; and the Salgado and Parker families from Sydney, Australia. While in New Zealand, we also met the Andersons from California. They are on their fourth year of traveling around the world by sailboat.
What I learned during my family gap year.
I learned science and math from online homeschool programs, but I learned so much more than that. I witnessed what my friends are having to read from a textbook in school. I saw new cultures and new religions. And when you learn from a textbook it’s not the same. Traveling shows you the real life, better version.
How did I change?
Seeing the different lifestyles there are around the world, it really made me more grateful for everything I have.
In Southeast Asia, people have to worry if they will have food on their table. Many young children in Vietnam have to ride their bikes around selling trinkets, saving money so they can attend school. Kids there work to go to school, while kids in America will do anything to get out of going to school. In Bali, we met children who moved to an orphanage by choice–just to be able to go to school because their families were too poor to afford it.
In China, it seemed like they had different castes of people. The airport bus driver and janitors were so nice, yet the high-ranking people in China were the most arrogant, self-absorbed people I’ve ever seen. They acted as if the lower caste people didn’t even exist.
In Australia and New Zealand, there was no culture shock at all (just sticker shock, according to my parents). In Italy, I found most locals to be downers.
Our family gap year was life-changing. After our global adventure, I am now more grateful, caring, thoughtful, and selfless.