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Jul 13 2015
by Anoushka Bhat

How I Spent My Gap Year

By Anoushka Bhat - Jul 13 2015

During my final year of high school, I came to terms with the terrifying realization of not knowing what I wanted to do at the end of the year. All my classmates knew where they were going and what they were doing, but I still wasn’t sure. I took my exams and graduated. Summer arrived and I still hadn’t answered the big question: what was I going to do this year?

I decided to take a gap year, an unconventional route according to many. My decision to take a year off was met with some negative responses from others. People thought I would just sit around all day and not utilize my time effectively. However, by mid-summer, I had chalked out what all I hoped to do, keeping it simple and achievable. Now that I was less occupied with school and exams, I carefully looked into fields and majors that I could pursue. Even if it wasn’t concrete, I didn’t like the idea of entering college completely undecided. I just needed to find a major that had scope and that I would find interesting. I then got my college applications, essays and SATs out of the way as soon as I possibly could.

After I finished the slight hassle of finding a major and applying to universities, the next thing to do was to get a job. I had worked short stints before, but my experience in a professional setting was limited. I prepared my resume, attended job interviews and hoped for the best. Eventually, I got a job to work with an events company for six months. I took on different roles, such as sales, guest management and administrative duties, depending on the event. Working at events was more intense than I expected. It involved enduring long hours, maintaining an upbeat attitude with visitors and vendors, being at the organizer’s disposal and staying alert at all times. During my work experience, I learnt how to be accountable immediately. It didn’t matter that I was only 19 or just working temporarily, I had responsibilities and I had to fulfill them.

Anoushka Bhat

The final and most anticipated thing on my list was to travel. I have always loved traveling and languages so I couldn’t wait to go abroad. I planned my itinerary for months before I left. It was impossible to choose just two cities, but I ultimately settled on Madrid and Paris to study Spanish and French, respectively. A young girl going alone to Europe for two months isn’t something that happens often in my community.

When I arrived there, I didn't know anyone and had little knowledge of the languages. The initial week was difficult, but I eventually made friends, improved my language skills in Spanish and French considerably and started to love being on my own. Traveling alone definitely changed me. I became more social and open, stepping way out of my comfort zone the entire trip. I met so many new people, who shared with me their own stories and adventures. I ventured out and got accustomed to local traditions, cuisines and quirks. When I had to leave Europe, I left with a heavy heart and an extremely strong desire to return, perhaps during semesters abroad.

I think your year off is essentially what you make it. You can spend it sleeping and watching TV or you can actually do something worthwhile. As mine draws to a close, I feel somewhat bittersweet. I really enjoyed my time alone; it allowed me to grow, work, learn, read and travel. I know I matured and gained invaluable experience and knowledge during this year. I don’t regret this year at all, simply because of all the chances I took and what all I accomplished by the end of it. Although I’m sad that I won’t have all this time to myself again for a while, I am so, so excited for the next chapter of my life. I can’t wait to go to New York City and discover all the corners of the different boroughs. I know that just like my gap year, I’m going to make my time at university really matter.

Lead Image Credit: Anoushka Bhat

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Anoushka Bhat - New York University

Anoushka Bhat is a sophomore at New York University, majoring in Economics. She is fluent in sarcasm and loves travel, books, music and coffee. She plans to capture her college adventures through articles and photography. Follow her Instagram @anoushkabhat!

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