Editor’s Note: Noah Trevino ’15 spent nine months attending St. Felix School in Southwold, England, as an English Speaking Union Scholar. A native of Gary, Ind., Trevino is now a summer intern working in the communications department. He will be attending Washington University in St. Louis to study architecture. Culver has been participating in the English Speaking Union for the past 22 years, hosting post-graduate students from the United Kingdom and sending graduates for a gap year experience.
Ah yes, the notorious gap year.
I was going to be one of those kids who took a year off to “find themselves.” Upon applying for the English Speaking Union’s Secondary School Exchange I received a wide array of responses from family and friends. Many people didn’t understand what I was preparing to go out and do, and to be honest, neither did I (beyond the fact that I would be living in England for nine months).
The last time I had encountered such opinionated statements about what I was doing with my life was when I made the leap and came to Culver for a fresh start my sophomore year. Many called it a pipe dream and a waste, but three years later it was safe to say I had proven them wrong. However, that is a different story.
Moving my whole life across an ocean for nine months was a daunting task to say the least but I knew in the end it was the best decision for me. After years of pushing myself to be “college ready” I was feeling drained. There was no feeling of excitement about getting thrown back into academia. While ESU was an academic program it also was focused on the cultural benefits of the exchange.
I took classes in England, but for the first time I was able to focus wholly on what I was interested in rather than jumping through hoops to get numbers on paper. While attending St. Felix School I pursued my artistic side more in-depth than I ever had time for in the U.S. By taking Photography, 3D Design, and Fine Art, I was able to develop an aesthetic and explore areas I have always been passionate about.
Beyond this, I also was fortunate enough to explore frequently. My motto for the year was “Adventure is out there!” a line from the animated movie Up! Trying to live adventurously every day wasn’t easy but it was worth it. Some days this meant doing something that scared me (bungee jumping, talking to a stranger at a café, trying new food) and others it meant doing something memorable (hosting a dinner party, watching the sunset, or ordering Chinese every Saturday night with a friend). My type-A personality planned endlessly for what my time in the United Kingdom would be like and I am happy to say that nothing went according to this plan.
I could tell you more about the places I saw, the events I witnessed, and the people I met but more importantly I am going to tell you about how I felt. At first I was scared, yet I refused to admit it. Not only was I going to be the new kid, but I was now the new kid from across the ocean who talks, dresses, and acts different.
Then I became excited. Almost every day I was trying something new, learning a new phrase, or seeing something for the first time. It was exhausting but I loved every minute of it. Eventually I became inquisitive. As I started to travel I began to wonder “Why?” and “How?” more and more frequently. Why am I here? How did I get so lucky? What’s next?
Oddly enough in hindsight, the answer was and is: Culver. Without the support and foundation Culver gave me I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to take a gap year let alone the courage. The school taught me so much and helped nurture me into the young man I am today.
It turns out the answer to “What’s next?” also happened to be Culver. Now back working as one of the Communications Interns for summer camp, I am seeing things from the other side of the gate and gaining a new appreciation for the institution that has done so much for me.