The beauty of UnCollege comes from the diversity of the fellows. This week in our #MeetCohort12 series, we talk to Gabie, a musician who decided it is time to take a year off (we prefer calling it a "year on") after obtaining a diploma from a university. She hopes to use the gap year to figure out what it is she wants to pursue for the rest of her life. But one thing is certain - it will involve some travel. Gabie will begin her gap year in October with the largest UnCollege cohort to date.
UnCollege: What were you like growing up? What was your town like?
Gabie: Up until the age of 10, I grew up in a small town in the UK. I then moved to Paris with my family, as my father is French and we have relatives who live over there. I always say I 'grew up' in Paris as this is where I spent my teens. I'd say I was an extrovert until I moved back to the UK when I was 14. This was when I became more introverted as I was struggling to figure out my place in the world. As I've gotten older and more confident in myself, I'm starting to become more extroverted and outgoing again!
What’s your stance on school or what are your favorite and least favorite parts about school?
I'm really not a fan of the English education system. They tend to give credit for turning up and participating - doing the bare minimum, which I don't feel is constructive. The best education I ever had was in a semi-private, international school in Paris. Not only was it the best in terms of traditional education, but life lessons too. If you're late to class, you're not coming in. If you forget your work book, you need to go to the library and your parents will be informed that you skipped class. I really benefitted from this tougher method much more than the 'giving praise for turning up' English method.
In terms of University, I got my vocal diploma (one year certificate) after studying for a year at a music university in Brighton. I then went on to study song-writing as a degree at the same university. I dropped out after 1 term. There were a few reasons why I left. I didn't really get on with the lifestyle that comes with going to a music university. I was working 2 part-time jobs to support myself as much as I could, and when one of the places I worked at asked me if I could work longer hours, I gradually started to work more and more until it was well over a full-time position. I gradually stopped going to classes, and slowly became happier in my day-to-day. This is when I knew I had to drop out.
I do feel there used to be a time where going to university and getting a degree was necessary, or at least incredibly helpful for finding a job and establishing a career. I feel this ship has sailed, we live in a time where everyone and their cousin has a degree, or goes to university. There's a lot to be said for not following the norm and doing your own thing. Approaching a company at the early age of 20, ready to work full-time and already with work experience under your belt, has a lot more value than people tend to give credit for.
What do you like to do during your free time?
I'd love to say 'going to the gym' but that's unrealistic! I tend to play video games in my down time. Getting lost in an immersive, unrealistic, fantasy world where you get to shoot things is a pretty good stress reliever! I love yoga and try to practice as much as I can. I'm a musician so I play guitar, piano and sing. I try to write and record as much as I can in my free time. I love DIY and making things. I'm currently practicing making DIY Spa products, in preparation for the Bali trip in October! I love listening to new music too and watching music videos, there are some really good ones out this year!
What genre of music do you sing? Which musician inspires your work?
I sing rock/soul music. My inspirations at the moment are Tyler, The creator, Injury Reserve and SZA. My favorite band is Guns N' Roses.
What led you to take a gap year?
After dropping out of university, I kind of fell into this job role in online marketing. I really loved it for the first year, but two years in now and I know it's not what I want to pursue as a career. I'm not actually sure what it is I'd like to do in life, and was finding it really hard to figure it out stuck in the same day-to-day routine. Back in March, I went to visit my sister who lives in New York for a month. Having the time away from my desk and my ordinary life to think outside of it really opened my eyes to how much I had to change my life to be happy. I asked my sister to help me find a way to get out of the UK and travel to America. She gave me a long list of options, and UnCollege was one of them! I knew I wanted to travel, to get that head space to think about what I want to do with my life, and I knew I wanted to work on a portfolio and get my head down to come up with a plan. UnCollege just fitted so well as it suits all of my needs right now. If it wasn't UnCollege, there wouldn't be a gap year for me.
How did your parents respond?
They're so excited for me. I'm incredibly lucky to have such supportive and motivational parents. I think had this opportunity arose a couple of years ago as soon as I'd dropped out of uni, they wouldn't have been so confident it was the right decision, as I was so confused and really had no idea what I needed/wanted. It's come at just the right time for me and they can see that. My mum's a bit jealous, she wants you guys to create a program for 'mature students'!
What are you most excited about going into UnCollege? (phase, element, etc?)
I'm really looking forward to volunteering during the Voyage phase. It's something I've always wanted to do and never really had the opportunity/made the time to do. I'm really looking forward to the work sprints in San Fran and really pushing and testing myself with those projects. Seeing what I'm really capable of achieving with a tight deadline. I also can't wait to meet like-minded people from all over the world!
What are your goals for the gap year?
I'd like to figure out what I'd like to pursue as a career. I'd also like to figure out where it is I'd like to live in the world, as I'm starting to realize that the UK isn't really where I'd like to be based. I'd also like to make some close friends on this program!
What’s your biggest fear going into the program?
Coming out of it without knowing, or having a pretty good idea as to what it is I'd like to do in life. Big question with an important answer that I've always been somewhat afraid of answering!
What is your favorite quote?
Probably Einstein's definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. I do need to remind myself of this a lot, like Gabie, stop being insane by doing the same thing everyday, expecting things to change! Hence the motivation to join UnCollege!
What’s your six-word story?
In another life, I explore space!
Finish this sentence - In 5 years, you will find me...
In 5 years, you will find me packing up my flat, moving onto the next adventure awaiting in another city, somewhere in the world!