Hey everyone, my name’s Raley; I was born and raised in Melbourne Beach, Florida and I love it here. I believe I am defined by where I live, not necessarily because of the town itself but because of its natural beauty. Melbourne Beach is a small area on the east coast filled with surfers and hippies ready to converse with anyone in sight. Growing up here, I have done the same thing, learned to be friendly with everyone. This filled me with joy as a child because anywhere I looked there was always a smiling face that made even the worst days seem alright. I love the empty beaches and the long trails through the trees you have to take to get there; the smell of the ocean air as you open the front door to take a morning walk. This is why I believe I am defined by my town, because I love everything about it; it exemplifies me as a person, genuine, calm, and welcoming.
For my gap year experience I plan to travel to across the world. I will spend my first semester in Australia and New Zealand backpacking with 13 others along the coast, exploring the islands natural beauty. During this time my group and I will be learning about the native Maori culture and participating in volunteer projects for both the community and the environment. While doing all this we will also be engaging in a variety of adventurous activities such as white water rafting, mountain biking, and scuba diving. Once I complete my journey through the outback I will head home to Florida for some time to reflect before venturing to Ireland with a separate program. Similarly to the Australia and New Zealand trip, I will be exploring Ireland’s natural beauty while also studying the culture around me. We will be living a less rugged lifestyle while staying in villages but occasionally taking an overnight camping trip to the woods. We will spend our days doing a variety of activities centered around self discovery and interpersonal development. I will return home from my travels for the last time in May of 2023 having grown as a person and having made a positive impact on the world around me.