Pause that refreshes: creative gap year ideas

Cartoon by Silvana Arguello
Cartoon by Silvana Arguello
Illustration by Silvana Arguello

I just woke up from a nap, and oh, was it a glorious one after waking up early to chauffeur friends to the airport – the only sleep I salvaged was through tiny power naps in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

However, napping has actually been a hot topic recently, especially with the entirety of UM’s population still recovering from a week brimming with booze cruises, or for the ones who went northbound, shoveling.

So napping was still fresh in my mind last week when senior Elaine Golden approached me with an idea that could produce the perfect recovery opportunity for seniors like her.

“Well, it’s a nonprofit called ‘Gap Year N.A.P. Year,’ which provides college students the opportunity to take a funded gap year after undergrad,” she said.

I desperately wanted to call the program ‘Gap Year N.A.P. Organization,’ so the acronym could be “G.Y.N.O.” But apparently this would cut the target gender in half.

Regardless, Golden already devised her primary acronym in N.A.P. – New Academic Perspective – and she has a whole vision of how this could benefit students.

“With ‘Gap Year N.A.P. Year,’ we would work with fellows to design horizontally-structured projects for their time in the program,” she said.

This got my engine pumpin’ and bumpin’ in my head. There’s just a whole new world of ideas to be discovered if students had an entire year to explore themselves – ideas that are shining, shimmering and splendid. Make a dream board? Maybe even work on a new fake laugh for when old ladies make a pun with my last name?

“All of those would be fine projects,” she said. “We don’t want to set limits and stifle creativity. Our main focus would be to provide participants with time for introspection and reflection.”

Well, though I might utilize this opportunity for slumber, I decided to gather the student opinion on how to fulfill this commitment instead.

“I want to get an ethnicity DNA test and go to whatever region in Africa I test positive for,” sophomore Becca Carter said.

This sounded interesting – I didn’t know a DNA test could tell you where you were from. I guess my New Jersey roots would read as: “His DNA keeps trying to telling us it’s New York DNA.”

So I kept searching, eager to gather ideas for self-reflection perfection.

“I don’t know what I would do with one ear,” freshmen Jaajir Jones said.

Maybe that’s why he didn’t hear me right…

“Oh, one year? Oh, then there’s one thing I would do: Africa. Anywhere in Africa,” Jones said.

Wow, another travel-supporter. In fact, as I kept questioning students about what they would do with another year, voyaging abroad was the most popular answer.

Sophomore Tony Marks told me she would participate in a Viking canoe race in Norway. Senior Connor Rogers said he would go “drifting” in Japan. Sophomore Toni Farrell told me she’s pre-med, so she’s not allowed to have fun. Okay, except for pre-med students.

Well, traveling would certainly take more energy than napping, but there would be plenty of time to get my shut-eye on the plane ride.

Danny New is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. “The Maturity Column” runs alternating Mondays.