“How Not to ‘Gap Year'” is the title of a series of memories from my time abroad in 2012-2013. I hope people enjoy laughing at some of the silly mistakes I made, learning some of the same lessons I learnt, and finding out little bits and pieces about a variety of cultures. I plan to upload the different chapters here as I finish them – enjoy!
Just turned eighteen and very naive, I took some opportunities to explore the world a little and help out with things where possible. An external-processing extrovert who was very keen to learn, had little common sense and was not always very good at thinking before speaking, I believed everything I was told about the places I was due to visit – and did little actual research. I had read a few books about other cultures and had gone out of my way to meet and find out about people who had lived in non-Western cultures, so I was confident that I was adequately prepared and could face the world. I took only hand-luggage (a rucksack) for the sake of saving time and not risking losing all my clothes in any one of the 20-odd flights that I would be taking, and had arranged to lodge with friends or friends of friends in order to save on accommodation and translation. I made many mistakes, learnt many life lessons and met many amazing people with fascinating life stories. Here are some of my reflections.