I graduated from Andover in 2009 and took a gap year between graduating and enrolling at MIT. I spent the first half of my year working in a neuroscience lab in MIT's McGovern Institute and working to get my pilot's license. Exhilarating and enriching, these experiences helped me to see that I am extremely interested in neuroscience and want to pursue neuroscience as a major and potentially a career. Then in February I completely changed gears and began the spring session of El Casal, John Rosen's gap year program in Barcelona. I had an absolutely fantastic experience and learned a lot from the classes I took in Spanish language, art history, Spanish cinema, and Spanish history. John and Ines are both amazing teachers who are truly passionate about the subjects they teach, making learning a contagious and effortless experience. While in Barcelona I lived with a host family who continually impressed me with their kindness and hospitality. I did not take Spanish at Andover and so I had practically no Spanish background (unlike most El Casal students), making the first couple weeks living with a family who did not speak any English an intimidating challenge but my host family was so supportive that we were communicating with ease in no time! Barcelona is such a fantastic city with a rich culture for the arts. I loved simply walking down the streets and beholding the beauty of Gaudi's designs or exploring the narrow streets of the Gothic District or getting lost in one of Barcelona's many amazing museums. I would recommend this program to any Andover student considering a gap year who would like a language/cultural immersion experience. I am now at MIT and would be happy to talk with students considering taking a GAP YEAR. If any students are interested in this program and would like to hear about it (or about the gap year in general), I would be happy to talk with them and share what little wisdom I may have!
by Rebecca MacRae: El Casal (2009)