I loved school. I know it’s a bit of a strange thing to say, but despite the stress, the anxiety, the worries that it gave me, I genuinely enjoyed going to school, seeing my friends and pushing my boundaries to do better–academically, mentally and emotionally. No matter how difficult other things were, school was a constant in my life that I often felt I could rely on. However, at the end of my freshman year of college, I began to experience and enormous sense of dread at the idea of returning to my university. While I had experienced typical school anxiety and stressors before, this was different.

So I took a year off.

Over this past year, I’ve been able to travel to the Philippines, Japan and I’m heading to New Orleans next. I’ve organized a book drive for a library in Sierra Leone, I’ve worked in several nonprofits, including a news organization, I’ve begun learning French, violin and coding with HTML and CSS. I also learned to make videos, to cut and edit for a “vlogumentary” of my gap year. Check it out: