Q: What was your craziest gap year experience?


1. Had a delicious dinner of spaghetti with tomato sauce and... sautéed cow balls, fresh from the day's castrations. ~ Sterling D. (Stanford '21)

I got a job working on a ranch in Argentina washing dishes. When there is lots to be done, all hands are on deck -- including those of the dishwasher. The most labor-intensive day of the year is the branding and castrating all of the young calves. Starting before dawn and finishing at dinner, we lassoed and held down all 200 calves so they could be branded with the estancia's symbol burned onto the hind quarters, notched in both ears for further identification, and if male, castrated.


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2. Got kicked out of a youth hostel because of a police raid in Xinjiang, the Uyghur Autonomous Region in China. - Natalie N. (Princeton ‘20)

3. Had an epic rotten mango war in El Salvador. ~ George S. (Lewis & Clarke '17)

It was mango season in El Salvador, and I was hiking with a group of little kids to the Poza Azul, a refreshing pool of water in the foothills. There were lots of mangos that had fallen to the ground and so we had an epic rotten mango war.


4. Explored Beijing for 40 hours... without break. ~ Anonymous

A friend and I spent nearly two full days exploring the city nonstop. We took a brief 5-minute nap outside of a McDonald's at one point, but for the rest--we did everything from seeing the Tian An Men to hopping around clubs.

5. Ran into a wild boar while hiking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Spain. ~ Jiyoung J. (Stanford '21)

Through Workaway, I was volunteering on a farm in the mountains near Granada. One weekend, I went camping with other volunteers--and on the way, ran into a wild boar! We hid behind a boulder until it passed.


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6. Got slapped in the face by a sea turtle flipper while working with on marine conservation with the Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas ~ Sarah N. (George Washington U ‘20)