Hi I’m Sophie! I really liked Tabita’s idea of doing an intro before writing a longer reflective post so that’s what this is. I’m from Chappaqua NY, a suburb about fifty minutes outside of NYC. I’m 18 and I’m taking a gap year before I go to UPenn next fall! My interests include reading, cooking/baking (I’ll make cookies for everyone for the plane!) and languages. I studied Spanish in school and am really excited to improve it over the next couple of months. I also took Japanese lessons outside of school for the past couple of years.
I chose this program because it aligned with a lot of my personal interests/beliefs: a focus on languages, slow travel, and cultural exploration, but also because I thought it would be a life altering experience that might cause me to return home with new beliefs, opinions and ways of seeing the world. I also liked the challenges it would give me. I’ve never trekked extensively before or been in a situation where I would have such limited contact with my friends and family, and I believe that these experiences will ultimately be what helps me grow the most.
This summer, I’ve mostly been spending time with my friends and family either at home or traveling. I just got back from a road trip with my dad where we started in San Francisco and worked our way up the coast to Seattle! Both of us have a laid back attitude towards itineraries and we enjoyed just driving along the coast, stopping at little towns or interesting roadside attractions! Earlier this summer I took a hiking trip with my family and really enjoyed it (which made me hopeful for trekking!) and I also got to spend some time at the beach with some of my oldest friends before they went to college. I also took a trip to Philadelphia to see a concert and explore the city where I’ll be living in a year!
The question about my culture is one that always kind of scares me because sometimes I feel like I don’t have a culture. I tend to primarily identify simply as American, although genetically I’m a mix of various European countries and a quarter Japanese. I feel a lot of people consider religion or ancestry to be a big part of their heritage, but I don’t really feel that way.My family isn’t religious, we’re Episcopalians in name only. And I don’t feel a strong connection to anything ancestral, besides some of my Japanese heritage. My mom makes Japanese food often and I am learning Japanese at least in part because of my grandma but I can’t identify as Japanese. So I guess overall, if I had to describe my family’s culture, I would talk about the the things that matter to us: home cooked food; books (we have shelves in almost every room); art, especially photography; traveling the world; and being open-minded and kind (as cheesy as that sounds).
This ended up being a lot longer than I planned, sorry, but anyway I can’t wait to meet all of you next week!