By Isabella Houle '19
Caroline Morin ’17, a recent graduate of NCS, is on a gap year before she joins the William and Mary Class of ’22. Doing everything from immersing herself in the culture of Salamanca, Spain, to learning HVAC repair skills, Caroline is learning beyond the classroom. Currently in Ecuador, Caroline answered questions about her gap year experiences!
What made you want to take a gap year?
There are easily hundreds of reasons why I decided to take a gap year. I guess the simplest answer is my daily routine at NCS revolved around school, homework, school activities, and worrying about how much I had to do. As my daily routine became more established, I forgot to prioritize mental health and basic life stuff. I graduated feeling that my all encompassing NCS education featured a large gap: practical life knowledge.
Could you give us a brief overview of all that you’ve done on your gap year?
Very brief but so far: I’ve studied Spanish in Salamanca, Spain; conducted research on Olive Ridley turtle nesting patterns in Ostional, Costa Rica; worked at a non-profit focused on childhood development and education in Quito, Ecuador; taken night classes on plumbing and appliance repair at my local public school; worked in an HVAC warehouse; volunteered for Habitat for Humanity; and worked as a wood-turner.
Did you think of what you wanted to do on a gap year and then decide you wanted to take one, or did you decide you wanted to take a gap year and then figured out what you wanted to do?
I started thinking about taking a gap year sophomore year, so the gap idea came first. I floated ideas around for a few years before committing to actual plans second semester senior year.
Did NCS prepare you for anything you’ve encountered on your gap year?
I learned early on in my gap that if you ever feel in your comfort zone, there’s something wrong because you’re not challenging yourself or are taking your situation for granted. With that said, NCS provided me with the basic building blocks for all my experiences; whether that be navigating Quito’s bus system or re-constructing a washing machine.
What is the coolest thing you’ve done so far?
Ooo — probably riding a camel after watching sunrise in Morocco or seeing a turtle give birth in Costa Rica.
What’s the most different thing about anywhere you’ve been and DC?
This is not a tangible “thing” per say, but a fair amount of the people I’ve met embody the “go with the flow” philosophy to such an extent that they don’t know what country they’ll be in in a week. Whereas, at home I feel like it’s normal to subconsciously have a detailed plan for the rest of your life.
Do you miss NCS/high school?
Yes and no. I miss seeing my teachers and friends everyday and having the assurance of a supportive community. But I don’t miss the stress and lack-of-sleep culture.
Any advice for current NCS students? Do you have any advocacy for taking a gap year for Close students
Taking a gap year has been the hands-down best decision I have ever taken in my life, and I cannot recommend it enough. My gap has cemented the lessons I learned at NCS and has grown my worldview tenfold. If anyone is thinking about taking a gap, feel free to reach out!