One helpful item for travelers to have is an International Student Identity Card (ISIC.) In many places around the world, it can get you about half off the costs of museums or movie tickets. It can also be instrumental for getting discounts on tickets for transportation, and acquiring accommodation at better rate. Currently, the cost of an ISIC card is $25. You can order one online through STA (Start The Adventure, formerly Student Travel Association.) For more information, go to their website: http://www.statravel. com/student-discount-card.htm/.
Below is an interview with 2013 Carrboro graduate, and former student body president, Kristen Lee. Lee took a gap year in 2013-2014 via Global Citizen Year (http://www.globalcitizenyear.org/.)
What inspired you to take a gap year?
I wanted to learn a new language, travel, explore and learn more about myself and others.
Where did you go, and what did you do there?
I went to Brazil, to Florianopolis and Curitiba. I lived with a host family, learned Portuguese and volunteered at farms and schools.
What was your budget?
I had a budget of $5000.
Where outside the US have you visited, if anywhere, and for how long did you stay?
I’ve been to Europe and the Caribbean for week-long trips. I also went to southern Africa (Zambia, Namibia and South Africa) for a total of six months, for research and to study abroad.
What did you hope to get out of the gap year?
I hoped to challenge myself, learn more about myself, explore and grow.
Did you get out of your gap year what you hoped?
Yes! I also gained so much more than I could have thought. To name a few things: the importance of patience, the ability to trust one’s self and how to be alone. I also realized that religion and language are life-long practices.
What research or preparation did you do before your trip?
I read books about Brazil, talked to people I knew who had gone there and researched on the internet.
What worries or concerns did you have about the gap year?
I worried about money primarily, and then safety.
What advice would you give to those considering a gap year?
You can make it work no matter your financial status; there are lots of resources, programs and information/support for students who want to take a gap year. Gap years can be used in many ways. Finally, if you think you’re interested in taking a gap year, ask yourself this question: What would I like to do with one year of my life?
How did you integrate yourself into the local culture?
I went to local parks and rode the buses. Living with a host family also helped a lot.
Did you have experiences with culture shock, and what were they?
My culture shock experiences were primarily experiences with the opposite sex. Also, not initially being able to speak Portuguese meant that it was extremely hard to make friends at first.