How Taking a Semester Off Put Me on the Right Path

I went into my first year of university with the intent of majoring in drama and eventually becoming an actor. I did theatre all throughout high school and I really enjoy it, but by the time I started university, the passion just wasn’t the same. During my first semester, I took a variety of courses in Arts, surrounded by people intent on pursuing goals that they had planned for years. By the time my second semester rolled around, I was just taking classes to stay in university. 

I felt defeated. 

The following year I decided to try and pursue Business. I began to take the prerequisites and man, did I struggle. Math has never been my strong suit, (just ask my high school math teacher), so I quickly gave up on that idea. 

Which lead me to feel defeated... again. 

I was in the fall semester of my second year of university and I still had no idea what I wanted to do. I heard a girl in my American Sign Language class mention SLP, an abbreviation I had never heard of before, so I didn’t give it much thought. That winter, my parents were planning to take a long vacation over to the other side of the globe. The plan was to put extra locks on the door and invite my friends to stay with me while I continued my second year. 

My parents have always been extremely supportive of me, they even discussed degree alternatives like diplomas or certificate programs. It was helpful, but one day I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t keep going to school not knowing what I was doing with my life. So, I made a joke to my parents about taking time off and joining them on their trip. Next thing I knew I was booking our flights and packing a suitcase containing three months worth of clothing. 

I felt relief. 

We traveled to Australia, Singapore, and the Philippines. I spent my days soaking up the sun and sightseeing, thinking only about what adventure was next. I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge and walked along the beach with dolphins swimming alongside me in a small Australian town! Traveling has always done wonders for me; it has always cleared my mind, eased my worries, and lifted my spirits. I always feel happy and inspired by visiting new cities and countries. My thoughts were devoted only to the beauty around me and to the amazing experiences I was having. I will forever be grateful to my parents for giving me that chance when I needed it the most. 

Toward the end of the trip, I decided to think a bit about my future. I was sitting on a beautiful beach with white sand and clear blue waters on a small island in the Philippines when I made my life plan. It was fitting since I’ve always felt my best being on the beach. Out of curiosity, I finally decided to look up the abbreviation that I had heard a few months before, SLP. Speech Language Pathology. I made some Google searches and did my research on it, it was the kind of career that would allow me to help others and I could feel myself getting excited thinking about it. 

I felt inspired. 

I chose Linguistics as my major and International Studies as my minor. I made a list of all the prerequisite courses I would need to take to apply for the SLP masters program. When I came home, I got straight to work. I made my course schedule, signed up for spring and summer courses, and set up observation days. I was finally on the right path. 

It is now my fourth year of university and I’m still in Linguistics and International Studies (that might change to French, but that’s a story for another day). Yes, the idea of applying to grad school terrifies me but I’ve become more involved in my field and I’m getting the experience I need, thanks to the support of so many amazing people. It took me some time to get here and it’ll take me some time to get to the end, but I’ll never regret giving my mind a break. 

Taking a semester off was the perfect chance to clear my mind, but keep my school hustle. I would recommend it to anyone feeling lost or unsure of their path! Take a break, find something else to think about for a while. If that means traveling, then travel! If that means working, then get a job you enjoy and focus on that! If that means volunteering, there are plenty of organizations that would be happy to have someone focusing on them! 

Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’ll end up on the right path, even if it takes some time.