Welcome back for part 2 of what I did on my gap year! If you missed it you can find part 1 here.
In February I headed off to Pembrokeshire to volunteer at a YHA hostel. My original plan had been to stay a month before heading home via Bath to see a friend at uni. However this was one of those travel experiences that doesn’t quite live up to your expectations and I ended up going straight home after less than 3 weeks. The hostel was undergoing some serious management issues so there was only a temporary manager (who had his holiday booked for most of the time I was there) and one member of housekeeping staff in the whole hostel. Also, as it was out of season the hostel was actually empty most of the time! I was staying in a super isolated area with no wifi and actually ended up getting… abandoned?? in the hostel by the manager as a red weather warning rolled in! Luckily I managed to book a coach home and got back the day before about 3 feet of snow fell and I would have been snowed in alone. Definitely not one of my favorite gap year experiences but I learnt a lot and don’t regret doing it!
Not a very interesting month, I spent most of March making up for being away for a while and working my butt off to earn some more money. As I work a zero hour contract I was able to pick up as many shifts as I could and was working over 40 hours a week to save up for my next trip. I had been absent-mindedly scrolling through cheap flights and found one to San Francisco- a week later and I had booked a whole trip to the West Coast, USA…
The first event this month was my 19th birthday! It was a low key day spent with family but exciting to be nearing the end of my teens.
I took the opportunity to accompany my mum on a trip to Cambridge for a robotics competition and spend 2 days exploring the city in the sunshine. Although I had always been loyal to Oxford (and even applied to uni there) Cambridge completely stole my heart; it is SUCH a beautiful city! I walked around a few of the colleges, ate lunch in the market, walked along the river and watched the boats and just soaked up the atmosphere (and dreamed of studying there…)
I also did some work experience this month at my local council in their health and wellbeing department. I had such a good time, although it definitely felt strange to be in office wear rather than hiking boots!
The end of April brought my most exciting adventure so far… On April 23rd I flew from Gatwick to Oakland, California where I was met by an auntie of mine who lives there. I was super lucky to stay with her and her partner right in San Francisco for a week, doing all the touristy stuff such as visiting Alcatraz, biking the Golden Gate Bridge, seeing the Painted Ladies and doing the painfully long hike up to the Twin Peaks. I then got an internal flight from San Francisco International up to Portland, Oregon where I stayed at the Traveler’s House hostel for a week. I completely fell head over heels with Portland and the surrounding Hood River area and can’t wait to go back to Oregon and see even more of it!
I was still in North America for the start of May, but now heading up over the border to Vancouver, Canada. I was only in Vancouver for about 5 days but it has quite possibly taken my number 1 spot for favourite cities I have visited. I stayed at the Samesun hostel and participated in their activities in order to make the most of my short stay. I also visited the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge with a friend I made at the hostel. It was all too soon before I was on an Amtrak train heading south again to Seattle. This time I was staying with a family friend just outside the city and had a great time sightseeing, fangirling over being IN THE LAND OF GREY’S ANATOMY!!! and hiking in Mount Rainier National Park. I flew home mid May from Sea-Tac airport to Gatwick.
No rest for the wicked and I was only 3 days into my jet lag recovery when I started my intensive driving course. I did 6 hours a day for 4 days before taking my test on the Friday and (thankfully) passing first time!
After having such an amazing time in America it wasn’t long before I started to get itchy feet. Luckily mum and I had booked to spend May half term in Scotland with the aim of crossing Ben Nevis off the bucket list! We drove up over 2 days to Fort William where we stayed in some camping pods for the week. The weather was absolutely flawless (high 20’s) for the whole week so we managed to climb Ben Nevis on our first day there! It was a gruelling walk in the hot conditions and we were both knackered (and fairly dehydrated) by the end. We spend the rest of the week visiting Lochs, doing some shorter hikes and doing typical tourist stuff such as seeing the Glenfinnan Viaduct (Harry Potter fans, you know the one).
In June I was back at work, with no travel plans ahead of me! I picked up lots of shifts, watched a lot of Netflix, spent a lot of time catching up with my family and spoiling Aurora!
July marked the start of my second year working for NCS, although this time I was a Team Leader. We spent our first week in Shropshire which was fun, although a very long drive! I was then working full time for the rest of the month and almost too busy/ exhausted to do much else!
August was the second wave of NCS for the summer, where we spent a week in the New Forest which was super lovely. Again I pretty much just worked all month, although one weekend I headed up to London to explore Camden with Mia, and also to meet my mum at St Pancras after her super long journey back from China.
I finished off August by spending the bank holiday weekend in Poole with my mum and sister, seeing the Old Harry Rocks, admiring the Sandbanks properties and eating good food.
And there it is! My whole gap year from start to finish. If you hadn’t already guessed, I’m actually taking a second gap year because I had so much fun on my first. Let me know if you have any recommendations for where I should go this year!
Thank you for reading:)