Progressing Towards My Goals

When starting my gap year, my main goals were to learn a new language and gain a sense of independence. As I prepare for the start of my freshman year of college, I feel successful in those goals.

In regard to language learning, I feel especially content. This is because with my time I was able to work on two languages. Although Portuguese was my first and only language until I started going to school, I eventually lost a lot of it to time and a life in America. Because of that, I’ve had to work over the last few years to get back in touch with my language and culture. During high school, I dedicated myself to taking courses and engaging with the Portuguese-speaking community around me. Despite this, it’s only because I took a gap year that I’ve been able to speak enough with my family and spark up conversations with those I encounter that speak it, that I’m finally secure in calling myself fluent. Additionally, not only did I better my Portuguese, but I was also able to add a new language to my vocabulary. Before moving to Italy, I enrolled in Italian classes so that I could have a general comfort in the language and be knowledgeable enough to survive in a foreign country while actively trying to learn. Having a background in a Romance/Latin language helped tremendously in establishing the building blocks of Italian, but it was also so much more difficult than I thought it would be. For the duration of my three months abroad, I was able to continue my studies while also practicing with locals in everyday interactions like going to the supermarket or trying to buy tickets for a museum. The women I volunteered with were also incredibly kind and helpful as they were once predominantly English speakers who had to learn Italian and are now fluent. I’m extremely thankful for their generosity and understanding as they themselves knew my struggle.

Moreover, I also find that I’ve become exponentially more independent than I was when my gap year commenced. Moving to a different country is no small feat. Before this, I had never lived alone, let alone in a country that I had never been to with a language I didn’t really speak. I had to learn to establish my own routine, struggled through language barriers, and watched for my own safety, among so many other things. There was large time difference which meant if something went wrong, I couldn’t just ask my parents. I had to figure it out on my own. But, it was that much more fulfilling when I did. For the longest time I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to survive without my family but suddenly everything I did was alone. It was here that I learned to adapt and solve and grow. I also had to realized that having to make friends in an environment where you’re not all forced be together is hard but being independent made me a much more sociable person and ready to converse with almost anyone I met. I’m so proud of how much I’ve been able to grow and hope to become an even more independent person as I enter college.

However, my goals evolved past language and independence. As I actually went through it, I realized that I also wanted to expand myself creatively and artistically. I’ve spoken about this more in depth in a few other blogs, but one of my favorite parts of this past year has been being able to express myself. Whether through drawing, crocheting, or photography and video editing, I’ve found a passion of mine. I’ve even created a YouTube channel because this type of expression has truly brought me immense amounts of joy.

Now as I’m about to start classes at FSU, I plan to continue with my goals. This fall I’ll be doing a semester abroad, once again in a new place with a new language to learn and a culture to immerse myself in. For the future, I plan to minor in French and Italian alongside continuing to pursue my passions creatively. Without my gap year, there is no way that I would be able to do all these things and for that I’m incredibly grateful. This year has taught me that I can reach even further than my goals. I finally feel like I can trust my intuition and take care of myself as I explore the world on my own.

          

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