Jetta Zakaria (July 31, 2019): What are your plans and expectations for your gap year experience?

My name is Jetta Zakaria and on August 17th I will be leaving for a cross-cultural gap year in Belgium. I will be doing my gap year through the organization Rotary Youth Exchange. They have helped prepare me in a number of ways and I believe it is one of the best options for high school graduates who want to do a gap year. I will be spending 10 months in Belgium alone and away from my family and friends here in Florida. This is something I have always wanted to do throughout high school, but after doing some research I found out about FSU’s gap year program and knew that it would be the best option for me. Ever since I was a child, my parents have given me many opportunities to travel around the world with them on vacations, but it has always been a dream of mine to actually live in a new country for an extended period of time. During my gap year, I will have to be attending school on a regular basis. I will also be attending meetings at my Rotary club Charleroi-Sud in Charleroi, Belgium. One of Rotary’s mottos is “Service above Self”, so the clubs are always working on community service projects to help their community or others around the world. Being part of Rotary will give me many opportunities to do service in my new community, but I am most excited to try and help out on environmental issues. Throughout all of this, I also hope to pick up on a new language during my gap year. There are three languages in Belgium: French, German, and Dutch. I will be living on the French side and my school and service opportunities will all be done in French. Hopefully, by the end of the next ten months, I will be able to speak confidently. Since Belgium is centrally located in Europe, I also hope to be able to visit some of the neighboring countries so that I can experience as many different cultures that I can. After my 10 months abroad I will be returning to continue my education at FSU in the fall of 2020. As of now, I am unsure of what I want to major in or do with the rest of my life. I expect to figure that out by the end of my 10 months in Belgium. I am optimistic that I will be able to try a diverse number of service projects and that one of them will give me inspiration for my future education and career.

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