We asked Pacific Discovery alumni, Abigail Hasselbrink why she chose Pacific Discovery as her Gap Year provider and how she chose which program to do.
When I first started thinking about taking a gap year, I began researching gap year travel programs. I quickly realized that there were hundreds of options, and I didn’t know how to decide which one to choose. I didn’t even know where to begin in the sorting and eliminating process. What programs were the most reputable? What programs offered the most bang for your buck? What did I even want to do during my gap year?
Fortunately, I found a gap year fair that was being hosted in my hometown. I decided to attend the fair. A gap year fair is much like a college fair–it takes place in a big gymnasium or other large room, and various program providers will set up stations with representatives and brochures. I went around to different tables, and as I talked more and more with each program rep, I began to clarify what I really wanted out of my gap year. Although I did not have a specific region of the world in mind, I knew that I wanted to have a lot of adventure and fun while abroad.
When I got to the Pacific Discovery table, I realized that the program offered many of the adventure activities I wanted to pursue during my gap year at the best price. In addition, I liked that the program was grounded in values such as ethical service work and environmental sustainability. Finally, I loved that every week was different while on a PD program. You were never stuck just doing one thing for weeks on end. I really wanted to experience as much as I could during my gap year, so this felt perfect for me. I decided to keep in touch with the representative I met at the time and eventually submit an application.
Pacific Discovery is an amazing gap year provider because they offer so much to you at a comparable (if not cheaper) price to peer organizations. They are highly regarded, so you don’t have to worry about not being in safe hands. They offer you countless adventures and opportunities for personal growth. You will make a positive impact on the world, but even more than that, the program will have a profound impact on your character. If you allow yourself the room to grow, you will be immeasurably changed.
How To Choose Which Gap Year Program To Do
When you look at Pacific Discovery’s website, you’ll see that there are fourteen programs available for the Fall. With options all over the world, ranging from the Mediterranean to Southeast Asia to South America to Australia and New Zealand, it can feel impossible to choose. Here is my advice for choosing the right gap year program for you.
1. Write down your goals for your gap year
When you picture yourself on program, what are you doing? What sorts of activities are you participating in? What are you eating? Do you have any specific activities or foods you’d like to try, such as scuba diving and ceviche or backpacking and curries? Lastly, how and in what areas do you want to grow as a person?
2. Be honest with yourself
Do you want to do a lot of service work during your gap year? Are you a physically active person (or would you like to be?) and are you willing to partake in physically demanding activities? How many, and for how long? What accommodations do you want to live in? Pacific Discovery talks a lot about the differences between your comfort zone, your challenge zone, and your stress zone. The goal on a PD program is to spend as much time as possible in your challenge zone because that’s when personal growth happens. You may not always be comfortable during an activity or accommodation, and that’s okay! However, if the program you are looking at has a lot of time spent camping and backpacking, and this is something you really dislike, keep this in mind.
3. Do you want to learn a new language?
Pacific Discovery has programs that involve some language learning, but no prior language knowledge is required.
4. If the place doesn’t matter to you that much, the itinerary should
I didn’t have a specific place I wanted to see during my gap year, so I picked the Central America program after I compared several different program itineraries. I liked the activities on the Central America program the most.