19 year old Kelsea Winfield tells us about her gap year
For this week’s SF Spotlight we met Kelsea Winfield, a 19 year old from Singleton in New South Wales who has just returned from seeing the world on a gap year. From partying on Sundays at ‘The Church,’ to stressful airport runs and visits to Spain, Kelsea lets us in on the amazing year of travel she enjoyed.
How many countries have you travelled to?
I’ve been to seven countries, including Spain three times and the USA twice.
If you could narrow it down, what would be your top three?
New York, USA, Valencia, Spain and Derry, Ireland.
Why did you decide to take a gap year?
Since I was 14 I wanted to travel and explore other countries. At first my interest started off being Ireland, then it expanded to Europe. But once I was overseas America and North Africa slotted into the plan as well.
What did your gap year involve?
I worked and lived at an English boarding school. It is the most popular and easiest way to have a gap year. I looked after children aged from 2-14. I would wake them up, put them to sleep, make breakfast and supervise on playground duty and homework sessions. 'Gappers' as they call us, do a range of things at the school so you need to be prepared for anything. Living at the school you easily make friends with the residential staff. I was lucky to have three other Gappers living at the school as well, one was English, Spanish and a fellow Aussie. We all became really good friends quite fast. When I wasn't on duty, I would be out exploring England and meeting others.
What did you love most about the experience?
The places I have been and the people I have met. Travelling has shown me how much more is out there in the world. I have stepped out of my comfort zone and found a whole other world out there waiting to be explored. It is the best way to become independent and confident. Honestly, it was the best year of my life!
Craziest moment of the year?
The Church! There is a club in London that is only open on Sundays from 12pm. All Australian, New Zealand and South African Gappers learnt about The Church within weeks of living in England. It’s a great place to meet up, dress up and drink the day away with a good dance!
Biggest travelling mistake?
Not reading the fine print on a plane ticket. I had checked in online and I only had hand luggage to carry on the plane. So I went straight though to security. I was travelling with my fellow Spanish Gapper, Maria, who is part of the EU. Once I got to the boarding gate (which was the farthest gate from check-in), I was told that I wouldn’t make the flight because I didn't get a visa check. A visa check involves getting a "confirm" stamp on my plane ticket. Maria was allowed through because she was part of the EU but since I was Australian I needed extra confirmation. I had 15 minutes to run back to security and to check-in. Once it took all of two seconds to stamp my ticket, I then needed to go back through security and all the way to gate 60. In the end I made is just as the gate was closing. I don't think I ever had a smooth airport journey.
Would you recommend a gap year to others?
Yes! It is the best thing anyone could possibly do with their life. You get to experience other cultures, meet amazing people and learn things about yourself. You do things that you wouldn't even dream of. It is a year of working with children and sometimes it isn't easy but it all pays off when you travel!
Where are you planning on travelling to next?
I am planning a cruise to New Caledonia and the neighbouring tropical islands, then I am planning to go back to Europe and explore some more. I am definitely nowhere near done with travelling!
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