My name is Emily, I’m 18 years old, and I grew up in the humble city of Toledo, Ohio — tucked between lots and lots of cornfields. Despite living there for almost two decades, I’m never quite sure about the name recognition it carries outside of the Midwest. To summarize, it’s very close to Michigan, and it offers surprisingly good Thai food. Since graduating a few months ago, though, I’ve actually moved to Los Angeles — wild! The area still feels somewhat foreign to me (and I cannot say I’ll ever harbor a deep connection to it), but my family is here, and that is enough.
While settling into this new space, I’ve spent a lot of Summer’s time introspectively: watching movies (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape may forever be my favorite), reading books (I’m going through an intense Joan Didion phase), and decorating my walls with photos and words and scattered pieces of my life. I’m always amazed at the transformative power of art, the way it so effortlessly brings with it a sense of home.
I consider myself very creatively-driven: I love drawing and painting and writing of all kinds. I’m on a constant quest to understand my emotions and their sources, so I try my best to journal every day. I also really enjoy hiking, camping, and just generally spending time under the sun. Finally, I’m super passionate about trying to navigate this world as ethically and sustainably as possible; I’m a huge supporter of second-hand shopping, and I’ve been vegan for three years.
Next fall, I’ll be attending Oberlin College (in Ohio). Though I’m just on the cusp of my gap year, I’m already confident in saying that this is the best path I could have chosen for myself. Throughout high school, I exhausted a lot of energy on perfectionism and self-inflicted pressure. It seemed that far too much of my identity had begun to revolve around my performance in the school system. Now, I am very much looking forward to learning about myself outside of a traditional academic environment. This year will certainly be one of growth and new perspectives.
After all, many of life’s most valuable lessons are learned outside of the classroom. Last year, I traveled to Spain with some of my classmates (on a trip somewhat similar to this one, though much shorter), and it was then that I first developed a passion for language and cultural immersion. Earlier this summer, too, I road-tripped across the country with two of my best friends, and I was introduced to an independence I hadn’t known in the years of attending my small school. I cannot wait to further explore this feeling alongside all of you as we broaden our worlds and face new challenges.
I found Nepal particularly compelling because of its emphasis on trekking (amidst the beautiful Himalayan terrain!) and its opportunities to learn more about Buddhism and Hinduism. Meditation is something that has always been of interest to me, but I’ve never fully taken the time to pursue it. The best advice I’ve ever received is that it is never too late to start something new; I hope this mentality proves itself entirely true over these upcoming three months.
I’m so grateful for this opportunity, and I’m very eager to meet all of you! With each passing day, this is all starting to feel more and more real.
Catch ya at the airport!