Lessons from the Road Less Traveled

Written by Hannah S., EF Gap Semester Class of Spring 2019

  • Publish Date: August 14th, 2019

I grew up believing there was a linear path that I needed to follow if I wanted to live a successful life. Thanks to my gap semester with EF, I now know that isn’t always the case: rather, success is measured by one’s ability to achieve personal milestones and positively influence the people and environment around them.

I embarked on my gap semester unsure of which path to take in regards to my major for college, and over the course of three months, I discovered my passion for exploring and understanding marine life.

I spent a month in Sydney, Australia interning at a non-profit organization called Our Big Kitchen (OBK). Their main purpose was to feed those who are unable to provide for themselves, while educating communities on what each individual can do to make a difference. Even though my internship was not centered around biology, I learned that finding a career that fulfills and challenges me is very important to me.

After I went scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, I became fascinated with marine life–I was drawn to the diversity of marine species, the opportunity for compelling experiential learning, and the challenges that we face as a global community in protecting our environment and the organisms that populate it.

I solidified my desire to become a marine biologist after spending two weeks at Mnarani Marine Turtles Conservation Pond, an NGO based in Zanzibar, Tanzania, that focuses on the rehabilitation of sea turtles. Spending everyday learning about the turtles’ biology and what factors in their surrounding environment decrease their chances of survival inspired me to gear my education around researching and protecting animals.

Immediately after I returned home, I switched my major to biology. I am excited to pursue a career in this field and I will also continue to keep an open mind in regards to exploring my interests and trying new things! I’ve learned that no path in life is linear, and I flourish the most when I am paving my own way.

I am immensely grateful for the travel, service, and educational opportunities that EF has provided for me. Thanks to the emphasis our mentors placed on professional development, setting realistic goals, and career trajectory, I am both well-prepared and excited to start my freshman year of college.

Hannah S.

EF Gap Semester Class of Spring 2019

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