My 1+4 Story: Wildflowers

Starting today, we’ll be doing a weekly My 1+4 Story feature. These stories will focus on the experiences of our fellows in choosing the 1+4 program, and/or the impact of the 1+4 experience. Our first My 1+4 Story comes from current Spain fellow Jiyoon.

by Jiyoon Chon

“Normality is a paved road; it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow.” –Vincent Van Gogh

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For most of my life, I’ve been walking on the paved road. Sure, I excelled enough to get to where I am now, but still never really got off the beaten track. Introverted, quiet, polite, good grades, decent musician, frequent volunteer. Terrified of being put on the spot, slightly insecure and unconfident, usually conformed to the norms and status quo. I worked hard even though I didn’t really know where I was going, and fostered big dreams without knowing how exactly I was going to achieve them. Of course, along the way, I saw the dandelions peeking through the cracks in the concrete and smelled the wildflowers in the distance. I was comfortable, I was happy. But at the same time, I always felt like I was waiting. Waiting for some kind of big change, waiting for an opportunity to do something more, something crazy, something different.

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A Thursday Afternoon

by Mateo Gomez


Today marks the completion of my first week back at work. It was exciting, exhausting, and all the emotions in between. While it was a bit of an adjustment from relaxing at home all day, I have to admit that it was rewarding to finally be productive again. Having a vacation period gave me just the energy I needed to come back with more determination for the rest of the semester. Something I didn’t realize I missed so very much about where I work, are the daily hugs that the kids give me. I even got hugged by some of our new students, which was especially motivating.

When I think about how this week went by, it hits me that the first month of this year is almost over. Now more than ever, I find myself conscious of just how short my time here in Nicaragua really is. While I’d like to say that my days will always consist of playing with kids and joking around with my host family, I recognize that my time here is coming to a close.

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Art Museums

by Evan Robison


In the past four months, I have visited eight different art museums a total of 14 times. This includes the Prado Museum five times, the Reina Sofía twice, plus the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Vienna Art History Museum. I have never had anything against museums and have always passively enjoyed looking at art. However, I’ve never enjoyed it nearly as much as I’ve learned to this year. Every time I see a new artist, I immediately ask whomever I am with to tell me everything they know about the style, era, their peers, and anything else they might know. In my four and a half months here in Spain, I have spent hours and hours learning about Spanish language, art, history, and culture. But one of the most important things that I’ve learned is something about myself: I love learning.

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Afraid of Change

by Sophia Carroll

sophiaphoto by 1+4 fellow Di Wu

I wanted to do this year abroad because deep down I didn’t want to do it. Or, in simpler terms, because I thought it would be hard. I’ve developed a liking, maybe from 6 years of competitive rowing, to doing things that are hard because I enjoy the feeling of satisfaction after, which can be both a good and bad thing–it gives me more self-discipline, but it can also lead to me doing things that don’t really benefit me for the wrong reason. So, when I was given the opportunity to live and work in Brazil for eight months, my first thought was, like many kids, wow, that sounds scary but my second thought was, but think about how accomplished you’ll feel when you’re done! I literally went into this year thinking about how nice the feeling of coming home would be.

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