To celebrate Gap Year Decision Day, here is a few diary entries from CEI gap year alumni describing their time on our campus.

Eidan Willis

In late August, I began my gap year with a ten-day family trip to Iceland, where we traveled around the western half of the country in search of glaciers and humpback whales. It was here that I discovered my love for videography and my desire to share my experiences with my friends and family on social media. Then, I embarked to Utah and Colorado for a two month river-rafting, mountaineering, and camping trip with one of my closest childhood friends, my dad, and a couple big horned sheep. In December, I ventured to Japan – this trip included visits to many temples and gardens, backcountry powder skiing, and wonderful food. We even stumbled upon the emperor giving his New Year’s speech at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo! Most recently, I spent two months at the Cape Eleuthera Institute in The Bahamas, where I assisted scientists and researchers with their marine conservation efforts. This consisted of catching, tagging, and safely releasing sharks and stingrays to better understand their respective ecological and environmental impacts. It was here that I achieved my Advanced Open Water Scuba Diving certification. I also took part in a week-long kayaking trip with a 50 hour solo experience on Lighthouse Beach in Southern Eleuthera. In the coming months before university, I plan to travel more with my dad, including an eight day self-guided wilderness fly, float, and salmon fishing trip down the Chilikadrotna River in Alaska.
This experience gave me the chance to grow as a person, gain some invaluable life skills, and meet people I will never forget. Ironically, I wasn’t actively searching for any of this; it’s funny, actually, because this was all just part of the ride. I couldn’t be more thankful for everything I was fortunate enough to experience and discover.

Watch Eidan’s video about his time in Eleuthera here.

Gap year students embark on an 8 day kayak expedition.

Gap year students embark on an 8 day kayak expedition.

Andrew Hollander

I was really hesitant when I first heard about the possibility of taking a gap year.
Now, nearly a full year later, I think it was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. My gap year has been filled with growth and challenges, both physically and mentally, and pushed me out of my comfort zone too many times to count. I spent the summer working as a camp counselor in upstate New York, running a cabin of 8 boys, coaching various sports teams, and leading trips into the Adirondack Wilderness. I spent the fall honing my Spanish language skills in Peru and Ecuador, while doing long homestays and traveling through South America independently. I then enrolled in the gap year program at the Cape Eleuthera Island School in The Bahamas, learning about environmental issues, doing a wide variety of marine biology research, and meeting some awesome people. As my year comes to a close I look back with no regrets over how I spent my time. This was an amazing year, which I know will serve me well in college and beyond, and I’m excited to see what comes next!


Max Njkerk

As I come to the end of my gap year, I have concluded that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. A gap year gives time for a student to explore different areas of interest that university and work would not permit. I spent the past twelve months at Evert tennis academy, training 5 to 6 hours a day in the Floridian heat; in the Bahamas at the Cape Eleuthera Institue, understanding the complex relationship between man and the environment; and at the Cordon Bleu in Tokyo, learning about the french culinary arts. During my gap year I have developed as a person, whether it is gaining mental toughness from competitive tennis, going out of my comfort zone to research environmental issues, or gaining independence whilst increases my knowledge of the culinary arts. In each program I have met great people from various different backgrounds and perspectives who share similar interests. I truly recommend that if someone has the opportunity to take a gap year then they should definitely take one!

CEI Gap Year students enjoy many trips to different attractions around Eleuthera, including swimming in Queens Baths (pictured above).

CEI Gap Year students enjoy many trips to different attractions around Eleuthera, including swimming in Queens Baths (pictured above).

Mark Jaschke

The decision of whether to take a gap year or not was a tough one. But after looking back over my time abroad,  I am positive now that it was a phenomenal decision to make. The Cape Eleuthera Institute’s gap year program was the first trip I was able to take and it was an experience I will never forget. Not only did I make some great friends, but II also learned a great deal about a variety of current research areas, from marine biology to making biodiesel. Finishing the triathlon at the end of the CEI gap year program was one of the most satisfying races I have ever finished. I know my time at CEI will be a very positive and influential part of my gap year and for many years to come!!

Gap year students and leaders feeling very satisfied after completing the ("Talapiathon") triathlon. 

Gap year students and leaders feeling very satisfied after completing the (“Talapiathon”) triathlon. 

Gabby Beaulieu

Of the few monumental life decisions I’ve made, electing to take a gap year was definitely the easiest. Almost one year ago, I decided to take a year off from college, for a number of reasons, and never regretted it.. The gap program at CEI was the second of the three main projects that I enrolled in during my gap year, but the time I spent on Eleuthera was undoubtedly some of the most jam-packed and rewarding 9 weeks of my whole journey. In just over two months, the program piqued my interest in marine life and renewed my appreciation for the ocean. The program also increased my awareness of the amount waste I personally generate, and there’s a variety of items — paper towels, take-out boxes, styrofoam cups etc.— that I view entirely differently as a result.
After my time as a CEI gap year student, I’m much less inclined to sit around and do nothing— we used to joke that we did more before 8 AM than some people do in an entire day, and that mentality of productivity and exploration is something I hope to continue throughout my life. No account of my time at CEI would be complete without mentioning the seven humans with whom I jumped off cliffs and swam with sharks, so a huge shoutout to the squad!

Gap Year Program Director, Ami Adams.

Gap Year Program Director, Ami Adams.

If you are interested in becoming a part of one of our 2017/2018 gap year cohorts, find out more on the CEI website