The Value of the Gap

Andie Nakahira '16
Despite what my grandpa texted me when I arrived in Italy, I did not take a gap year to “do some good soul-searching.”
Despite what my grandpa texted me when I arrived in Italy, I did not take a gap year to “do some good soul-searching.”

However, I did feel pressure to know what I wanted. When meeting someone new they always ask, “What are you majoring in?” Friends and acquaintances around me seemed to know what they were doing; they’d have their major and their minor or their double major already picked out with a side of a solid life plan. My plan? “*awkward laugh* I’m not sure yet...something to do with art and science...”

I didn’t know what I was doing or what I wanted. So I took the chance to explore my interests before college. And what better way than to take time and explore them while traveling? That way I get to know myself better, other people, and focus on things I enjoy and find new ones!
I started off my gap year with an internship with the Nature Conservancy Program on St. Croix, UVI. There, two other interns (including Marilia Muschett, ’17) and I participated in conservational marine projects, which included coral reef monitoring and turtle nesting and hatching. We worked there for a month and lived in an open-air house where we cleaned, managed a tight budget, and cooked our own meals.
I have never taken real and formal art classes outside of high school. One year of AP Studio Art and beginning ceramics is not fully representative of what’s out there. Deciding to expand on my art skills and wanting to try various mediums led to studying in Florence, Italy, where I also added Italian to my course load. I studied there for three months and shared an apartment with four to five other girls from around the world. And because working with clay was so enjoyable, during the break between my two longer study- trips abroad, I rented out studio space in a local art studio in Lomita to continue working on pottery and sculpture.
I am currently in Tokyo, Japan living with a host family while studying Japanese and taking culture classes at Sophia University- Yotsuya Campus. I’m in Japan for the next three months.
Hopefully, I can use my experiences to help enhance my college experience. I believe I have matured and become more responsible living on my own and traveling without my parents. Continuing what I’ve been learning and taking my old and newfound interests to see what I could do with them on the college campus would help me, and possibly others. And maybe by the end of this year I’ll be closer to knowing what I want.

Vistamar School is a private independent high school in the South Bay region of Los Angeles
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