WEEKLY WANDERLUST – Nancy Sun
Readers frequently ask how I have been able to travel to so many far flung places.
Two words: Gap Year.
Burnt out from college and never having had the undergraduate ‘study abroad’ experience, I treated myself to a year overseas with Princeton-In-Asia. For one year, I taught English to college students my own age at the Dalian University of Technology. Having a part-time course load, I used long weekends and the winter break to travel all over China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Vietnam. This past Monday, I reminisced among my fellow alumni when I went to New Jersey for Princeton-in-Asia’s Alumni Benefit Dinner.
With all of my adventures (including Xishuangbanna, Haerbin, Da Lat), what I remember most vividly, were not the epic tales, but the small things. I remember the neighborhood tofu shop that turned into a fireworks store the month of Chinese New Year; pranking a friend’s students into thinking I was one of their peers that just “miraculously” spoke perfect American English; and impulsively climbing to the top of a mountain without any food (bad idea alert!). I remember turning all my students onto the O.C. Season 1, the $1 DVD movie marathons we hosted, and watching Polar Bear swimmers emerge from the Yellow Sea in the dead of winter. I learned to cherish the little things while I was in Asia and also that opportunity doesn’t only represent itself as a rung in the corporate ladder. Maybe that’s why I’m ready to go international again, and hope this inspires you to entertain the same.
Other places to find Gap Year opportunities, of the good-will ilk:
- HAEF Fellowship – English Teaching Opportunity in Greece (WANT)
- JET – English Teaching Opportunity in Japan
- WWOOF – International opportunities to work on organic farms
- Peace Corps – 2 year commitment
I also recommend visiting Travel Full-Time for Less Than $14K a Year. I drool at the possibilities.