EF Stories: Eva Romero from Spain at EF New York
One of the things that scares me the most in life is reaching the end and realizing that I haven't truly lived, regretting not doing something because I didn't dare, and being left with the "what ifs." That was the main reason I decided to take a gap year and go far away from here. So, here I'm going to explain how it was to take a post-college GAP YEAR in the beautiful city of New York.
BEGINNING OF THE ADVENTURE
My dream had always been to go abroad and live for a while, specifically in the United States. I still remember when I was taking my First Certificate oral exam, and they asked the typical question: "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" And I answered, "Walking the streets of New York." And, lo and behold, five years later, what I said came true.
At first, for me, EF was just "the means" through which I could fulfill my dream. Improve my English and live in the city I had fantasized about so many times. I never imagined what it would truly mean to live such an experience.
The month before starting my journey, everyone kept asking me if I was nervous. The truth is, I wasn't. I suppose it was because I didn't quite believe that I was going, and that once I found myself on the plane, I would start feeling that "nervousness" that new adventures bring about. But I didn't feel it. And when I arrived, I knew. I wasn't nervous because I knew I was doing what I really wanted.
THE FIRST DAYS OF MY POST-COLLEGE GAP YEAR
I arrived in the early morning, so my roommates were already asleep. The next day, we had a barbecue to get to know the other new students. The New York campus was like something out of a movie: a huge football field, a gym, a swimming pool, a basketball court, a theater, and countless students from all over the world... It was impressive, even though I had already watched the campus video on YouTube about a thousand and five hundred times.
EF took us to explore the city on one of those iconic yellow buses – my teenage self was screaming with excitement. They dropped us off at Bryant Park, and I went to explore the surroundings with my roommates. We strolled through Times Square and spent a considerable amount of time on Broadway because my roommate was obsessed with musicals (we belted out "Mamma Mia" in our room more than once during my stay in New York). During the first few weeks, I took the opportunity to explore the entire city, rent a bike, and ride around Central Park.
CLASSES AT EF
The classes were dynamic. Despite being quite extroverted, I had always been shy about participating in high school or college classes. However, here, it was the opposite. The classes encouraged participation, and both my classmates and the teacher were amazing, to the point that they became part of the great family I formed at my destination.
There was a perfect balance between grammar exercises, listening, reading, writing, and speaking. And if the teacher noticed that we had more difficulty in a particular area, we would focus more on it. Furthermore, they always provided us with tools to work outside of class if needed.
In addition, during the GAP YEAR, you can choose a series of specialized Spin Classes in certain areas such as fashion, culture, and business. Since I stayed for many months, I had the opportunity to try almost all of them.
I truly felt that I had improved in the language when we took the level tests they administered every few weeks to assess our progress. And, of course, my fluency improved significantly thanks to all the international friends I made.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK
Countless songs have been written, and a thousand movies have been filmed in this city for a reason.
I remember one of the friends I made during my GAP YEAR, on one of my first visits to Manhattan, told me, "It's very easy to recognize New Yorkers from those who aren't." And I asked him how, and he replied, "New Yorkers walk from one place to another with their eyes forward, while we look up to see the tops of the skyscrapers." To this day, despite having lived in the city for half a year, I still think they never cease to amaze me.
Although my favorite part of the city wasn't Manhattan, it was DUMBO – in Brooklyn. Here you can read an article I wrote about how to have an incredible afternoon in New York without spending much money.
During my post-college GAP YEAR, in addition to my studies and travels – I took advantage of my time in New York to visit Miami and Mexico – I often went out dancing at night. While it's true that the nightlife in Manhattan isn't the most budget-friendly, after a while, you adapt. Besides, there's no place in Spain where you can be dancing or having a drink with such incredible views as you can have in New York.
MY POST-COLLEGE GAP YEAR EXPERIENCE
In 5 months, I lived 5 lifetimes.
I swear there are no words that can describe what it meant to take a post-college GAP YEAR. GAP YEAR, for me, stands for: learning, friendship, unforgettable experiences, and above all, FREEDOM. Freedom in capital letters because I have never felt as free as I did back then.
Learning at all levels, not just concerning the language. I grew as a person, as a friend, as a sister, as a daughter. To this day, my mother is still amazed at the positive change I underwent in just half a year abroad. You learn to navigate life on your own; you learn to handle situations and emotions differently.
You form very strong bonds with the people you meet during your experience. Friendships of 6 or 9 months become your family, your support, and in many cases, they come to know you even better than friends you've known for years.
You live unique experiences that are very unlikely to happen if you stay within your "comfort zone." These are memories and people you'll carry with you for a lifetime.
MY EDUCATIONAL AND CAREER.
Companies are increasingly seeking a more international profile. They're not just looking for candidates who are nearly native speakers of a language – which is hard to achieve without spending an extended period abroad – but also candidates who have had an experience like this. That was something I was very clear about.
Today, having a degree doesn't guarantee you anything. So, taking a GAP YEAR adds a lot of points to your job application when going through the selection process. And it's true, I am where I am today thanks to it.
So, if you've just finished college, the best thing you can do is pack your bags and go far away for a while, just like I did – especially considering the current job market situation.
WOULD I DO A GAP YEAR AGAIN?
Yes, yes, yes, and a thousand times yes. It's something I've talked about a million times with all my friends from there – I'm still in touch with all of them, and I even exchange emails with my former teacher. I would give anything to relive the same experience all over again without changing a thing. And at the same time, I would go to a different destination to have another experience like that. Where? Probably Australia, New Zealand, or Cape Town. And honestly, I don't rule out that one day I'll be packing my bags to embark on my next adventure.
If you want to experience a GAP YEAR like mine, whether it's after high school, after college, or simply because you feel it's the right time to pack your bags and have the best experience of your life, you can request a catalog to see all the options and destinations that EF Education First offers or request a personalized quote. And if you want to ask me personally about my experience in New York, you can reach out to me through my Instagram, and I'll be delighted to help you.