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Monday, August 16, 2010

The Gap Year was a Great Year

I first wrote about my daughter's decision to take a Gap Year last August of 2009.  It is exactly one year later and it turns out the Gap Year was an amazingly Great Year.  It was one of reflection, growing up, working, traveling, - and most of all - appreciating and being grateful.

My daughter's decision to take a Gap Year was not initially one she relished.  At one point in time she wanted to go to college on the East Coast.  But after visiting that college it did not meet her expectations. So she did some further research and found that in her own 'backyard', SJSU (San Jose State University) has an excellent Art & Design college.  After being accepted to the college of Art & Design at SJSU she considered taking a year off to work and travel.  She had it firmly and stubbornly in her head that she wanted to pay for a big part of her tuition.  That was fine by my husband and me. 

The start of the Gap Year began with a trip to Europe with Dad.  It was perfect.   Dad had a business trip there so each day through dinner she was entirely on her own.  She could text him during the day if she had a question, but mostly she was exploring London, Brussels and Paris solo.  She navigated each city, toured museums, found cafes to dine, then met up with him at night.  When Dad had time off, she mapped out where they would go.

After they returned home she ended up getting a nice internship - again at Dad's company!  This turned out to be not only great work experience but a great bonding experience.  They commuted together which also gave her a chance to get some driving time in and be his chauffeur for a change.  She earned enough during the past year working to pay for a hefty part of her tuition bills.  Bravo!  Dad and I have been seen giving her a standing ovation for that accomplishment!

She capped off her Gap Year with a trip to China.  The China trip was pivotal.  The trip was organized by our church youth group. It was a fantastic way to end her Gap Year.  When she left for China I had that typical PANG of apprehension and concern many parents get when their children head off to college. It was her first trip without any family.   But I could tell upon her return by the stories she relayed that my little girl, (*my first born*), would be alright once she is in college.  The decision to take this year off from school did not mean she took a year off to goof around and be lazy.  It became a year where she experienced LIFE and came into her own. 

An unexpected and incredibly positive outcome of the Gap Year was how she bonded with everyone in the family.  The last few years of high school were rather stressful and if she had gone to college right after graduating she would never have bonded with her two younger sisters the way she did this past year.  It's been remarkable and so rewarding for me to see this.  This year has also given me more time to be with her, to bond and appreciate my daughter in a new light.  Children grow up fast enough.

This Gap Year went by in a flash but will have immeasurable long-term affects.  It will forever be a pivotal year for all of my family.  Next Sunday we move her into her dorms on campus.  Stay tuned as I write about that experience and the coming freshman year for her.

For previous blog entries on the Gap Year, see also The Gap Year Continues in Full Force on SVMOMS.  See also my initial blog on the Gap Year.

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