An Interview with Miles Jones (CGS’19)

Two males on the top of a snowy mountain with clouds behind and beneath them

What did you do during your gap semester?

During my gap semester I went on a trip with a program called National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). There were 16 of us on the trip, and it was 85 days in southern Chile in the Patagonia region. The trip consisted of 32 days mountaineering, 32 days kayaking, and a 10 day student expedition. The other days were spent preparing food and taking a medical course.

What was your process for narrowing down what you wanted to do?

I didn’t want to stay home because I live in Bloomington, Indiana, and I knew my time there would have been unproductive and mostly time spent with friends visiting them at school. I knew I wanted to do something, whether it was an internship or an experience, and since I have always been an adventurous person I decided to do the experience.  

How did you go about researching your options and making your choice?

Once I decided to go on the experience route, I chose to do NOLS because it looked like an exciting journey. They have a ton of different programs in many countries, and I decided to do the program in Chile because it looked like such a beautiful place after doing some research and watching different YouTube videos.

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  • Two people wearing bright-yellow jackets and life vests, pushing a kayak through a muddy valley with grass-covered mountains on either side
  • A group of seven people, bundled up, on a snowy peak smiling and holding a small orange banner that says NOLS
  • A group of hikers making their way to a snow-covered mountain
  • A group of people on a snowbank, wearing winter gear and backpacks
  • Two guys taking a nap on rocky, snow-covered ground next to backpacks and some used plates.

How did you organize the logistics of the trip?

NOLS does a good job handling the logistics of the trip. I had to apply because you need to be in good physical health for the journey, since you are out in the wilderness for so long. Once we got to Chile, NOLS handled everything, including food delivery. They also made sure we had all of the necessary clothing because once you are out there, you have what you have for 80 days.

What did you do during your downtime?

In the mountaineering section of the trip we would mostly sleep since we were exhausted from the journey. Its 25 or 30 degrees out which made us even more exhausted after a long day on the trail. During the sea kayaking part of the journey, we would play cards and create games like playing basketball with a boot and pebble.

Are there are any tips or unexpected things you learned from the process?

It’s definitely important to disconnect. You can focus on tasks more and you have a clear headspace since you don’t have the distraction of your phone. For the first four or five days, I would reach for my phone and it obviously was not there. This journey helped me to curb that habit, which was good.

Is there anything you would recommend other students think about as they plan their own gap semester?

I think something important for students to think about is doing what you love or what you are passionate about. If I wasn’t passionate about the outdoors, it would have been a tough experience. Do some research and don’t get too caught up about doing something in the academic world. Instead, think about doing an experience since we only have a short amount of time before we go into the real world.

–Interview by Steven Silvio (CGS’17, COM’19)