By MJ (Mariajose) Ladera (August Blog)
In this blog, I will go over 3 goals that I would like to accomplish by the end of my gap year. In no specific order:
1) Learn/become proficient in a third language
a) Last year, I spent 5 weeks in Portugal taking Portuguese classes at the University of Coimbra. Due to its similarity to Spanish, I decided to learn and embrace Portuguese as my third language. My main plan is to travel back to Portugal for a few months, February to May, and enroll in classes at the University of Coimbra. Residing within the country is a perfect opportunity when learning a new language. This will allow me to practice speaking not only within the classroom but also outside of the classroom, either in a restaurant or a grocery store, and learn to live like a local.
b) In preparation for this plan, I have found some tools to help me practice my Portuguese; they can also serve as an alternative to traveling if I am unable to do so. I have found some podcasts made for those beginning to learn Portuguese, which I will listen to weekly. Installed within my home computer, I have Rosetta Stone which is another way to help me learn. I have also found that Duolingo is another great resource to helping me build my Portuguese speaking skills.
2) Become a better global citizen
a) To me, being a global citizen means learning about different cultures and their most pressing issues like: hunger and
homelessness, and traveling to different places. Due to the pandemic, international travel is not available to me, yet. However, this does not mean I cannot become a better global citizen. Within the U.S, I have taken advantage of my time here to find the best ways to continue helping others. I have chosen to volunteer with St. Vincent de Paul food pantry, Habitat for Humanity (Georgia and Kansas), Urban Recipe, and the Atlanta Community Food Bank. The main purpose of these organizations is to combat/eliminate either hunger or homelessness; 2 big problems that plague both underdeveloped/developing countries and here in the U.S
3) Learn more about myself
a) I believe that the best way to learn more about myself is by taking chances and having new experiences. Chances and experiences cannot be planned out and can take form in many different ways. My goal is to become more open minded and flexible, so I can have the opportunity of having these chances and experiences. I view my gap year as a chance that led me to new experiences, such as planning my year during a pandemic which carries an uncertainty about the future. Going through the planning phase for this year has taught me that I have a hard time being flexible and accepting daily and weekly changes. Unexpected changes to plans were not my cup of tea, and still aren’t, but slowly I am learning to accept these changes. Planning this gap year was not easy because I never knew if my plans would or would not happen. As time passes by, I am learning to accept the unexpected and move on.
All in all, I am excited for this year and for what it may bring.