Gabbie, pictured on the left, joined the VACorps program in January 2021 and participated in a hospitality and interior design internship. She will attend SMU in the fall of 2021.
“I chose Cape Town because it was one of the few cities that was open to American travelers at the time. I also have friends at home who were born in Cape Town and whose parents were raised there and they definitely encouraged me to go. I wanted to do an internship because I wanted to get a sense of the real world before studying it in earnest at University next year. It is hard to know what you really want to do career-wise without having any or much exposure to it. In other words, something may seem cool in theory but once you actually get there and start working in that field it may not be what you had imagined. VAC gave me the opportunity to explore my interests in hospitality before deciding that it is what I want to study in college and pursue long-term.
During my time in Cape Town, I learned that I am capable of so much more than I thought. The idea of college terrified me because of all the independence and having to figure out how to balance schoolwork with a social life and making friends with living my life and partaking in all the crazy adventures this world has to offer. It all just felt like so much to take on, but VAC gave me the opportunity to figure it out in a low-stakes environment. Yes, I was working in a professional workplace and needed to complete what was expected of me, but the mistakes I made there are not going to follow me the same way they may in college.
What I loved most about living in Cape Town was definitely the accessibility to so much. You are living right between a city, ocean, and mountains. There is just so much that you can do in Cape Town. I also enjoyed living alone with other people my age and learning together how to do it all. I will miss the energy that the gap students brought to the group. Someone always wanted to do something, so I was never bored or out of ideas of things to do. I stayed for three months and that time flew by quicker than expected. The VAC staff are nothing but incredible. I am most grateful for how they treat their program participants. They truly look at us like adults and not kids so they give us a ton of freedom but are also always there for support when needed. As a gap student, I feel that it was really up to me how involved I wanted to be with the VAC staff which I appreciate a lot. There were never any mandatory checkups or anything like that which made the environment more welcoming to stop by and say hello.”