Kaylee Giacomini: On Taking a Semester Off

In the Summer of 2018, our Campus Correspondent Kaylee decided to spend a little more time in Europe than she originally planned and ended up taking a semester off. Although the decision was tough, today, she feels as if this was the best thing she ever did to benefit her academic life. 

Her Campus: Why did you decide to take a semester off?

Kaylee Giacomini: When I first transferred to Delaware, I knew I had to make one of two choices: graduate a semester early or take a semester off. Due to funding reasons (I didn’t want mounds of debt due to out of state tuition) and the fact that I had enough credits from AP classes to do this made me lucky. The idea of graduating in the fall never appealed to me so I chose the latter. This is not a decision that everyone would make and should absolutely be deliberately thought over, however I’m so grateful that I made the decision that I did. 

HC: What did you do on your semester off?

KG: In the beginning, I travelled a lot. I went to Italy in June to teach English, and although I planned to leave in August I loved the program I was with so much I stayed until mid September (See: ACLE). After that, I fulfilled a lifelong dream and solo backpacked parts of Europe. I saw a lot of the Adriatic Coast like Croatia and Montenegro and then took a plane to the UK and spent a few weeks in Scotland and Ireland. After spending over four months in Europe, I came home and worked full time at the Barnes and Noble on campus. 

HC: How did you manage your budget while spending four months abroad?

KG: Saving money beforehand was huge for me. While I was teaching I didn’t have to worry about money too much because my program paid for all of my transfers, I stayed with families, and they also paid me a salary on top of that. I did have to buy all of my own plane tickets though and all solo travel was out of my pocket. Ahead of time I made a super comprehensive budget that I stayed to as much as possible to make sure indulgences of one day wouldn’t screw me over for buying a train ticket or food later on. Planning was just as important for me as the initial savings. 

HC: What was your favorite destination?

KG: Nice, France was definitely up there for me. Nice was my first stop in Europe and I loved every second of it. Part of that came from my initial fears of solo travelling literally being lifted off of my shoulders when I fully realized the amazing journey I had started, but on top of that it’s a fantastic city. The beach is luxurious, the food is amazing (I’m talking crepes with lavender ice cream and drinking Rosé on a beach), there’s some great hiking and exploring to do, and Monte Carlo is only an hour away so I day tripped there once which was cool. 

HC: How was getting back into the swing of classes in February?

KG: Not only was a semester off an amazing travel experience, but I truly believe that nothing helped me out academically more than this. After two years I had insane burnout and I desperately needed a break. My GPA literally skyrocketed when I returned, I went from a 2.8 to 3.5 in one semester because I came back ready to crack down on classes and did. I was motivated for the first time since I came to Delaware because I got a glimpse of what kind of life I wanted to work towards. 

HC: What would you say to anyone considering a semester off?

KG: There are definitely pros and cons. I’ve had friends do it and have bad experiences, so it’s not something to decide on the spur of the moment. Some people come back from it and have the opposite effect where they have no motivation for school and can’t get back into the swing of it. That being said, taking a semester off changed both my personal and academic life for the better and it’s an experience that I wouldn’t change for anything.