Participant Reflection: Paula Ortiz

Ariel view from Gap Assistant of Western Australian beach

Read about Paula’s Gap Year Experience

Bogata, Columbia to Perth, Australia are almost at opposite sites of the earth, so we thought we would catch up with Paula who is spending time in regional Western Australia during her gap year.

Q. Paula, tell us about your gap year experience in Australia! 

A. Looking back and thinking about the day that I first arrived in Australia, and then to the school, it feels like it was ages ago, yet I can’t believe it’s almost over. I can’t describe how amazing my experience here has been. Everything that I’ve been able to experience is well beyond my expectations.

Q. Describe us about your role on your gap year.

I would describe my role within the boarding house as an older sibling or even second house parent, and I’ve loved every single bit that comes with the job. I’ve met wonderful kids that will always have a special place in my heart, and more than just working, I’ve been able to share remarkable conversations and occasions with people (other staff) that’ve helped me grow as an individual. I will be forever grateful for that!

Q. Columbia is a LONG way from Australia. Tell us a little about your holiday adventures. Where’d you, what’d you see?

 A. Since the start of my year I’ve been very lucky being able to travel a lot! For my first holidays in October last year I was up in Cairn’s, then over the long December and January holidays I travelled around South East Asia and finished in Sydney, for these recent April holidays, together with the rest of the gappies we headed to Melbourne, making my way back to Western Australia. I’ve also been able to stop in Perth a couple of times, and because we’re close to so many beautiful country-side places, I’ve been able to experience another type of excursions with the school camps.

Honestly, I don’t think I’d be able to choose a favorite destination as they’ve all been exciting, and amazing in different ways. Starting this last term was quite overwhelming and nostalgic, and yet, I wouldn’t have changed anything about what my experience here has been.

Q. Finally, what’s been your highlight?

Lastly, my time wouldn’t have been anything like this without the other gappies I was able to meet. I was very lucky that might school had two intakes of gap groups during my time as the three people that I was with for my first 6 months, all went home at the end of the year, so 4 more arrived at the beginning of this one. In short, a huge part of my constant smile, laughter, and excitement, has all been thanks to those amazing people who marked my journey. 

On the July 13 last year, I left Colombia with a heavy heart because I was leaving my family for a year. Now, as I prepare to leave Australia I’ll be leaving with a broken heart, thinking about everything I’ll be leaving behind, not knowing when or if I’d be coming back to the people I developed so much love for.

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