My gap year began in Paris, where I worked in a tea boutique (a shop that is mentioned on Gossip Girl, no less!). This was a fantastic experience for me, since I found myself living alone in a foreign country, which opened the door to so many new adventures. Not only did I learn the wonderful, diverse culture of tea but I also took advantage of living in one of the culinary capitals of the world and expanded my recipe books daily. Having never left the comfort of my parental home before, I was more than a little daunted by the prospect of being entirely independent in such a busy city but within a month I could almost pass for a real Parisienne.
During my days off, I shadowed a neurologist at the world-renown teaching hospital la Pitié-Salpêtrière, which, under the patronage of Charcot, became known as the birthplace of modern neurology. I attended clinics for young patients suffering from Tourette’s Syndrome and learnt more about a disease that I had previously known very little about. While this experience was fascinating from a scientific point of view, it was also thought provoking to learn more about how this syndrome affected the lives of the patients.
I returned to England in January, and spent several months tutoring students in subjects ranging from Maths and Physics to Spanish and Latin. I felt a real sense of pride in these students when they achieved the results I knew they were capable of. It was absolutely fantastic to be able to share in the joy of someone who got full marks on a maths test they had previously failed.
And then, before I knew it, my bags were packed and I was about to embark on a road trip across America. That first night, I couldn’t sleep at all – whether because of the jetlag or the excitement, I couldn’t say. They say a journey of a hundred miles begins with a single step. My journey of over 2000 miles of open road began with a single step into a puddle. The uncharacteristically rainy weather that followed me did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm, however. I really adored absorbing all the different cultures that make up the United States, and found it interesting that crossing a state line was well and truly like entering a new country. …continue reading…