I'm really pretty fortunate that I'm able to take a gap year.
I'm glad that my parents are supportive, that K-Zoo (cute nickname for Kalamazoo College, duh) accepted my deferral, and that programs exist for me to take part in and travel with.
But mostly I'm thankful I had a really rich great-grandpa. Who decided to give his great-grandkids some money. He's the real person making this all possible.
Now don't get the wrong idea. I'm actually not too obsessed with money. Or that big into shopping/mass consumerism. And my family is certainly not considered wealthy- we're solidly middle-class. However, my dad's mom's dad just happened to own a paper mill for a while, and the final effects of that are about to show up. Once I turn 18 (on Sunday!), I'll be inheriting a little more than $10,000. To do whatever I want with. So bomb.
So, obviously, I'll be taking that money and sticking it straight into the "Ensure Cleome has the Money to Buy Food in Europe" fund. Feel free to donate yourself! Every little bit helps.
While I'd love to encourage everyone graduating high school (or college, for that matter) to take some time off before heading to college/out on a career path, I know that's just not [monetarily] feasible for a lot of people. Plus, I realize a large section of the population would see using a large, and free, chunk of change to finance a year of traveling as:
d.) crazy, or
e.) all of the above
And I know college costs an arm and a leg these days. I'm fully aware of it. An extra grand (or 10) would definitely come in handy for financing my secondary education. But I've come to the conclusion that a year of adventure is going to be worth more to me than a slightly easier time paying for college. Which is certainly a personal decision that other people may not agree with. Too bad, though, 'cause it's my life.
It's not just the money I'm receiving on my 18th birthday that is going toward my gap year. I've been working for the last three summers (at a summer camp and the State Fair) with saving up for traveling as my goal. Plus there's the odd baby- or cat-sitting job over the year to provide a bit of income flow. Oh, and I did pretty well for myself at my grad party, which reminds me....
Along with the generosity of my great-grandpa, tons of other people have contributed to making my gap year possible. These include family, friends, neighbors, teachers, family friends, and many others. Not all of the donations have been money. I'm including support, books, conversations, and good vibes as contributions, also. So thanks you guys. I really appreciate it all.
However much I like them, though, well-wishes don't quite pay for plane tickets....