Comment: From Magaluf to Tanzania
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A lot of people I meet at university seem to think gap years are solely for the year between school and university, this is totally untrue, gap travel can happen anytime. In fact, for me and many others, it happens every summer. During my gap year I went on a five-month trip to East Africa with a company called ‘Aventure’. On the plane home I was told by a stranger that: “Once you get African soil on your feet, it never truly comes off”, this is true not just of Africa but of all travel. A lot of people get set in their ways and a family trip to Europe every summer satisfies their travelling needs, until they go somewhere farther afield. Being somewhere that is totally culturally alien to you, where you’re completely independent and surrounded by new people and places, is another type of travel entirely. I booked my aforementioned gap year travels the month before the trip was set to depart - I packed my bags and went completely alone with a group of thirty two strangers. As we arrived at the airport it was clear who the ‘Aventure’ travellers were because we all had the same huge turtle-like backpacks and obvious nervous expressions. Although I was terrified at the thought of five months of lone travelling, it was the most exciting prospect I had, thus far faced in my life. As I waved off my parents and made small talk with the other people on the trip, I took a huge sigh of anticipation; I had five months to do whatever I wanted. This feeling of total independence is one I got easily hooked on. Being at university doesn’t even come close to how autonomous you feel when you’re on the other side of the planet fending for yourself and, having a total laugh while doing it. In the last three years I have almost circumnavigated the globe, covering continents such as South America, East Asia and, of course Africa. This summer, my travelling sights are set on Alaska which is set to be one of my biggest challenges yet, with the lowest recorded temperature in June being -18 degrees. I’m normally not one for the cold, even in summer I’m rarely seen out without a cardigan so the thought of those sub-zero climes is conjuring up some fairly unattractive visual images of me doing my best impression of the ‘Michelin Man’. Alas, if nothing else, I can’t be criticised for not challenging myself at least once a year.
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