Society tends to place this stigma that right after high school we are to go directly to college. Perhaps most people have had the thought on whether college is right for them, or maybe the though has never never entered their mind. However, I’ve noticed many young adults who choose not to go straight down another school path.
Some have even decided during their time in college, to drop out as well. Frankly, there’s nothing at all wrong with this. On more than one occasion, I’ve even had this thought.
With this realization, I’ve decided to talk to a fellow high school graduate who decided she wanted her life to be outside those boundaries. Lucia Middelhof, who goes by Luci, is a 19-year-old girl who wanted to take measures into her own hands to go to Costa Rica after graduation. She’s had many opportunities during her time so far, and honestly, who couldn’t be proud of such an intellectual, bright young woman who chased after what she wants?
Thus begins our conversation with one another:
If you don’t mind me asking, what made you decide to go to Costa Rica?
Luci: Emotionally, I went through a lot during my senior year of high school. I endured so many dark moments and it got to the point that felt like I was drowning. I knew I had to make some sort of change in order to keep moving forward in my life. I was born in Costa Rica and all of my extended family lives there, so I’ve always viewed it as a safe haven. I’d have a place to stay, lots of loving people around me, and the opportunity to make a much needed change. I needed to find the piece of myself I had lost during those rough years of my life, so it seemed like the perfect option for me at the time.
Overall, change is a big thing in life. How long have you lived in Costa Rica? How has making this move from the US to CR (Costa Rica) affected your life overall?
Luci: Yes, change is a huge thing in life! I moved here at the end of September, so I have been living here for about 10 months. Moving away changed my life in every possible way. I feel like it’s a whole different world. Being here has made me realize what’s important in life and what’s not. The people here are happy with so little which has made me put into perspective all of my problems. I learned to live in the moment and stop worrying about so far in the future. I feel like I now value the small moments in life that make it as a whole, worth living. That doesn’t mean that life in Costa Rica is completely perfect, but it is exactly what I needed at the time. Most of all though, I have really learned how to love myself regardless of all my mistakes and imperfections. I’ve started to care less about what other people think of me, and more about how I view myself.
What have been some of the opportunities you’ve had while living in CR? Have you had any favorite moments/opportunities, which ones?
Luci: Probably my biggest opportunity while living here was being offered a job as an English teacher. I work at a language institute called Intensa and I’ve been teaching for almost 9 months now! It has been such an eye opening experience for me and has made me realize my true potential. I’ve always been incredibly shy and this job has really helped me in that aspect. It has has taught me to listen more and talk less. We as humans are so incredible. We all have our own story and the coolest part about this job is that I have met and learned from so many people that I would have maybe never ever thought about getting to know. Plus, shy little 19 year old me gets to be in charge of a full class of adults who call me “Teacher”, and if that’s not empowering I don’t know what is!
Leaving behind people you love and look up to can be very hard. How was it when you first moved, adapting to being away from your family members?
Luci: Leaving my little sisters was probably one of the hardest parts about my move here. I remember I used to cry almost every night thinking about them, but it honestly made me so much stronger. My fear was that they would grow up way too much while I was gone and that I would miss important milestones in their life, but in the end everything turned out okay. We FaceTime all the time and once a week we would tell each other everything fun that happened to us. I think being away from them actually made me treasure them and our time together so much more.
I’m sure it was hard for you but in the process of living in CR, you’ve met many new people as I’ve seen from what you share on social media. How have the people (family or friends) made you feel at home and at ease once you’ve settled in?
Luci: Yes, I’ve met many new people! My family has done the best job in the world helping me adjust to this new life. They have been so so welcoming and are constantly doing everything possible to make sure I’m okay. All of my cousins around my same age are always inviting me out with them and their friends and making sure I’m comfortable and don’t feel out of place. Most of the friends I’ve made here are all thanks to my cousins! I don’t know what I would do without them honestly.
There were probably thousands of different routes you could’ve taken, you know? If you could, would have done this part differently or keep it the same and just go for it (moving to CR)? Is there something you’d have done here in the States if you stayed?
Luci: I would 100% not change a single thing. I was so lost before I moved here and I honestly can’t imagine where I would be or what I would be doing had I stayed. I don’t even want to picture it! I think this really was God’s or the Universe’s or whatever higher power you believe in’s plan for me.
Last segment for you! This past year of college for me has been rough and I questioned if I wanted to stay or up and go somewhere else, and I don’t mean to another college. Did you ever consider going to college after HS or has this been on your mind for awhile? And for anyone who does decide to read my blog or going through the same thoughts as you or me, what would you tell/recommend them if you could?
Luci: Yes, I definitely considered going to college right after high school but deep down I knew that I wasn’t ready yet. I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and that weighed on me so heavily. I was surrounded by people who knew exactly where they wanted to go to college and exactly what they were going to study and had everything figured out. And I knew nothing! That was one of the main reasons for my anxiety, until I decided that it’s okay to take a step back and breathe. We are way too young to have all of our life plans figured out already. My parents supported me a lot with my decision which definitely made it easier. I think that if anyone is considering a gap year like I did, my advice is do it do it do it! Life is way too short to get caught up in the “normal” or “right” way to do things. We’re all so different and so are our needs, and only we ourselves know what is best.
+ Luci, thank you for giving me the chance to learn a little more about you. To those reading, I hope you’ve felt as inspired about this story. Even if you haven’t entered college or you have, maybe these words gave you an insight into how it’s okay to not always follow the same path as everyone else, but instead to care for your own emotions and beliefs.