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Crossing the river before summiting 17,500 Pico Austria. Photo by Ella Williams (2016 Fall Semester Photo Contest, 2nd Place), South America Semester.

Hello!

My name is Audrey Washington and I am from Berkeley, California. I am looking forward to meeting you all and sharing this exciting adventure together! I love being outdoors and am particularly excited to go trekking and to take in the nature of Bolivia and Perú. I am also interested in learning about the history of these two countries and how it has shaped what they look like today. My ability to understand Spanish is subpar and my ability to speak it is just down right bad, but I am excited to hopefully get better!

I am currently taking a gap year before attending Stanford University in the fall. Thus far, I have spent my summer and first part of the fall competing in hunter/jumper horse shows across California. It has been important for me to have this time to improve my riding. I love how riding is both physically and mentally challenging. In October, I traveled to Buckinghamshire, England to be a working student at a barn. My days consisted of mucking out stalls, cleaning, feeding, and riding the horses. This was really my first time doing hard, physical labor six days a week. I encountered both challenging people and horses that I had to practice my patience with. Unfortunately, only a few weeks into my trip, I got bucked off a horse on a cold, English afternoon. I went to the hospital and learned that I had fractured my fourth metacarpal bone in my hand. I decided to come back home to Berkeley where I had surgery to realine the bone.

I spent the next two months recovering. Between my doctor and physical therapy appointments, I started volunteering at a local elementary school where I helped newcomer students, predominantly from South American countries, practice reading and writing in English. Additionally, my family and I somewhat impulsively decided to get a two month old, Golden Retriever puppy the weekend after my surgery. I had always wanted to raise a puppy, but I didn’t anticipate how time consuming a puppy really is! I spent the first few weeks entertaining the puppy by day and waking up every few hours at night to take the puppy outside.

While my year thus far hasn’t necessarily gone to plan, I am learning to adapt. I chose this program to add a little structure to my year and I am excited for this trip to begin! Now, I just need to tackle that packing list…