By: Marta Djalleta
It is shockingly odd to say that our Elon Gap Semester will be coming to a close in just two short days. Having spent over 100 days traveling across mountains, continental divides, states, and countries has been an eye-opening experience in and of itself but being able to share this experience with 15 other people has been irreplaceable. So here are the top 10 things that I have been grateful for throughout this entire semester:
- Fast changing crosswalks
As much as I love enjoying the hot sun while waiting in the same place for 10 minutes, life becomes a little more beautiful when you walk right up to the crosswalk as it changes.
- The views:
Whether it be gorgeous mountainous tops, or beautifully deserted beaches, I have no doubt seen some of the most unforgettable views throughout this entire experience.
- Toilet Paper
While using the bathroom in the woods was new and exciting, I am forever grateful for the return of toilet paper. Although we’ve had it for a while now, I still make sure to count my blessings and remember how rough life was without it.
While it has been great experiencing so many new cultures, it is nice to have one constant thing in my life: a grande soy chai latte with half the pumps of chai. Whether it be in West Virginia or San Jose, this drink has the ability to remind me of home, anywhere in the world.
- Long car rides
Whether we’re cruising around in our big white vans or our private Costa Rican bus that has a large yellow sticker on the side that reads “TURISMO,” I am forever grateful for these long trips. With an average minimum travel time of two hours, this time has been strategically well spent to catch up on sleep, making the 7am wakeup time not so bad.
- Cultural immersion
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to explore so many different cultures. Not just outside of the United States but within it, as well as within Costa Rica. Traveling and experiencing new cultures was something that I was really excited for coming into the Gap Semester and the eye-opening cultural adventures that we’ve had have been nothing short of extraordinary. It is fascinating to draw similarities and differences between the cultures that we’re exposed to as well as picking up on some cultural habits to incorporate into our everyday lives.
- Living in a foreign country
There is something so special about a study abroad experience. I believe it to be one of the best forms of travel. I am so grateful to be living with such a welcoming and fun-loving family. Not to mention the amazing meals that I get twice a day. Along with my host family comes, the Spanish language, which is easiest to learn in an environment where I am forced to speak it. Lastly, being constantly surrounded by amazing views isn’t the worst thing ever.
- Breakfast buffets
For those of you that may not know, I am a breakfast fanatic. Therefore these beautiful displays of endless eggs and toast were my version of heaven.
- E. Coder
Having a professor that also doubles as one of the coolest people you’ve ever met makes eating, sleeping, and living with your professor not too bad. Elizabeth has been the best when it comes to jam sessions in the car, laughing with us at our travel mishaps, and most greatly being a constant voice for our cohort. Elizabeth has taught us so much about travel and has really helped all of us keep our cool throughout these crazy life-changing experiences. I am so grateful to have been able to share this experience with her and I am honored to have been apart of her first Elon Gap Cohort!
- Gap Fam/ Gap Srat/ Gap Pack
Whatever you wish to call it, I cannot even begin to explain how grateful I am to have even met these 14 amazing people. I have had the pleasure of sharing this incredible experience with some of the most intelligent, funny, and crazy people I have met thus far. It’s wild to think that only about 3 months ago, we were nothing short of strangers standing in the gigantic Denver airport together not knowing all of the insane experiences that would soon come our way. I don’t think I have ever shared some of the worst and some of the best times with such a unique group of people. The bond that we all have is weird and rare but I would not change it for the world. Each of the gap members has made such an impact on me and has made this experience all the more better. Three months and twenty days later, our group has come to be a family that I will always hold dear to my heart.