Gap Year with AMIGOS in Nicaragua
Taking a gap year or semester is an increasingly popular route for high school graduates to gain skills and experience before beginning college or entering the job force. The vast majority of gap year participants report that their experience helped them develop personally by increasing their self-confidence and maturity, while gaining career skills.
AMIGOS gap participant Emma was looking for an experience like this – an opportunity to live outside of her routine and comfort zone. She landed in Leon, Nicaragua in January, where she ran an after school tutoring program. We spoke with Emma about her experience as an AMIGOS gap year participant – see her responses below!
What is your host family like?
They are so unbelievably loving, hilarious, caring, and treat me no different than they treat each other. They respect and love me as a member of the family and I feel so blessed to have had the chance to know them and to be loved by them. From day one they have made Nicaragua feel like home and I will forever be grateful for their generosity and open-heartedness.
How did this experience change you while you were in Latin America?
I am definitely not the same person I was when I first got here. I am more confident in myself and my abilities. I am much more fluent in Spanish. I am exponentially more certain about my future and my life aspirations. I can dance a little salsa and bachata. I am more open with those around me. I know how to take care of myself both physically and mentally. I have made relationships that will last a lifetime. I am the happiest I’ve ever been. Every minute of this year has shaped me and pushed me to continue to grow and develop and I will be forever grateful for that.
How did AMIGOS help you prepare for college and beyond?
In terms of heading to university in the fall, I’m simply going in with a better mindset. I am doing what I love, meeting new and inspiring people, learning about the world, and challenging myself every day. I’m ready to take on the educational challenges that I will face and to simply grow my knowledge and understanding in a manner that will allow me to continue pursuing my passions on a professional level with the education to back it up.
What advice would you give to students interested in an AMIGOS Gap program?
DO IT!!!! Taking a gap year has been the most important and valuable decision I’ve ever made and I wouldn’t change anything about it. This is an opportunity like no other and a pivotal time in your life. And although it may not feel like it, you have so much ahead of you and there is no rush to go to university or to settle into a job. An experience like this will teach you more about yourself and the world than you could ever imagine and is so valuable to your personal and professional development. The things you will learn and experience, the relationships you will build, and the joy and love you will feel are irreplaceable and will remain with you through the rest of your life.