I spent the spring semester of my Junior year studying abroad in Perth, Australia. I’m obviously so cool and wear chacos, right? It was pretty neat. Ate some tim tams, held a kangaroo, and got some bad sunburns. (strangely Foster’s isn’t a thing there). Who knew. Anyways, because of the timing of this extravagant vacation, I was forced to take a “gap year.” I’d always felt this was for people who didn’t know what they were doing, but here I was freezing my ass off at graduation realizing I had to find something to do for the next 400 days.
Now, here is what the typical rich, white adult says to me: “Just travel, go to Europe or Africa, enjoy your time off before you go back to school.” Now, I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention, but I spent my Junior year savings holding kangaroos and my senior year I worked part time to scrounge enough money to buy cheap beer. So, my entire life savings of $300 was not going to pay for me to “adventure through Europe” let alone live in Chicago with friends.
So, I went home. Well, home for me is a small town of 30,000 people and all of the people I cared about (except for my parents) had moved away. I spent the summer writing applications for med school and figuring out what the fuck I was going to do with the next 350 days.
This was all such a culture shock though. I know my college experience is privileged and maybe not the norm. But I had just spent the last 4 years either studying my ass off or having all of my best friends within 500 feet of me. Going home was suddenly an isolating and boring shock. I don’t think I understood the concept of free time. Boy…. would I learn quickly.