How to Pack Your Suitcase

by Jordyn Voss

1. Dig Out Your Suitcase

No one likes living out of a suitcase. When you fumble through asking your host parents where you may have put that huge bag (honestly, where could it have gone in a house this size?), set it on the floor of your bedroom and open that sucker up.

2. Regret Choices Made by a Stressed Out, Eight-Month-Younger Version of You

Seriously, why did you think you needed four full, gallon bags of feminine products? You still have a bag and a half left. And why did you bring three sweatshirts to Brazil when you knew you would be there during the summer? How come you didn’t bring more mosquito spray? August you was an idiot.

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My 1+4 Story: Aberdeen Bird

Hello world it’s me, writing a personal blog for the first time in a long time.  What am I up to?  Currently I’m laying on the president’s lawn at Tufts enjoying the 80 degree weather (so long as I pretend our planet isn’t dying) with a new friend I made this semester.  First semester here I saw a lot of people around campus that I wanted to be friends with but never reached out to so my social goal this semester was to approach everyone I had a “friend crush” on and try to befriend them.  So far it’s worked out swimmingly.  I used to approach situations from the standpoint of “Oh no… they’re too cool for me…” but I realized that’s ridiculous and if someone thought they were “too cool” for new friends then I probably wouldn’t want to be friends with them anyway.  I’ve worked to surround myself with people I enjoy being around- people I want to make happy and people who want to make me happy, largely my 1+4 friends, because being emotionally content is just as important as doing well academically and I think I solidified that life outlook last year.

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The Ocean

by Jordyn Voss

I spent a lot of the first semester of my senior year of high school trying to sound smart.

I mean, anyone applying to college is doing their best to play up every redeeming quality they have, especially when it comes to writing. Writing has always been one of my favorite subjects and I felt on top of the world when I was writing my college essays. I remember the day I started pretty well.

A close friend of mine and I decided to start together and to give each other honest creative advice. After about an hour of the occasional discussion thread and the clicking of laptop keys, we read each other our first drafts. A lot of that essay writing was a blur, but what she wrote would prove to have a lasting impact on me. Her prompt was something along the lines of “describe a relationship that is very important to you.” Though many people wrote about close friendships and family, she went off the beaten path. Her essay was about the the ocean.

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My 1+4 Story: Dee Wu

This bridge year has made me appreciate the value of self-reflection and spending time alone. My high school was called a “pressure cooker” and no one had the time to slow down and think about anything. I had no direction and felt lost when I graduated from high school. Going to college without taking some time off seems unimaginable to me now because I would have no idea of what I truly want to get out from a college experience. During my time in Brazil, I have read 17 books on my kindle. I am gradually getting into the habit of reading, which wouldn’t have happened without taking a bridge year. I am not only surviving, I am thriving here. I’ve learned to be comfortable by myself. Every book I’ve read, from Americanah to 1984, has taught me something I wouldn’t have gotten out of if I wasn’t alone. Even though I am still not sure what I want to study, I can say confidently that I have more direction in life than ever before. Having alone time has enabled me to think back to my high school life. If you asked me a year ago what my favorite book was, I wouldn’t have had an answer because I was ambivalent about everything. But now, having reflected so much on every detail of my life, I’ve realized how I’ve always enjoyed explaining calculus concepts to friends; whenever I start my homework, I would start with mathematics because I tend to leave my least favorite things last. Before embarking on this journey, I regarded this year as merely something different, but I was wrong about it.  It’s more than something different, it is life-changing.

– Dee, Tufts 1+4 Brazil fellow