I’ve been avoiding the task of fleshing out an answer to the question of why I decided to put off college for a year in favor of living in Senegal for eight months.

Sure, I’ve formulated my logical reasoning – I’m craving an adventure, I require a new perspective in order to justify the hefty price tag of a liberal arts education, I’m pretty burnt out on formal schooling, I love languages; this list goes on and on. There are so many fragmented reasons why, but I haven’t pieced them together to create a cohesive picture- they’re jangling loosely like found sea glass in the back of my mind.

I want to emphasize that this trip isn’t an effort to “save Africa.” I don’t expect, nor do I wish, to change the worlds of my host community members. This year is not an effort to live out an elevated Freedom Writers fantasy. In fact, my goals are all ones of self-improvement. You heard it: my “volunteer trip” is utterly selfish.

I want to condition myself to say yes this year, to everything just outside reason. I want to cut myself as completely off from internet as possible. I want to learn to think for myself, challenging the system as often as necessary. I also want to learn how to “go with the flow.”

So maybe it isn’t so bad that I haven’t composed an all-encompassing answer. For now, it’s enough that I’m going. And you guys, I am so excited.