Ana Alves


Recent graduate of the Discover Year program and excited for the journey ahead!
Porto, Portugal


I am an enthusiastic supporter of the Discover Year program and the young adults who participate in it. I could not resist doing another interview with a recent grad of the program. Ana Alves traveled from Portugal to join the gap year program located here in Ottawa. I hope you are uplifted by her positive and thoughtful answers, along with her excitement for the journey ahead.


What made you decide to take a gap year?


I think the most powerful drive for me to do a gap year was the fear of making a wrong decision and the fear of making a decision based on other people’s opinions. The more everyone told me to go to university, the less I wanted to pursue that path, because I thought that meant I was not being authentic. I felt like I did not know enough about myself to pick a course of study and that if I picked one, I would be “stuck”.

On the other hand, I was also very enthusiastic to travel abroad, experience a new culture, and meet new people. This won out and I did a gap year!



You have now finished your gap year, thinking back to your last year of high school, what advice would you give yourself?


This is what I would tell myself:

Don’t worry about how perfect your first decision should be. At this time in your life don’t try to force yourself to find your purpose.

If you want to put effort in something, put your effort into exploration and discovery. Keep doing things and notice how they feel. Gather information about yourself before trying to extract your purpose from the depths of your being.

Take your perception of yourself more seriously than others’ perceptions of you.

Don’t beat yourself up. Encourage yourself when you are down.  Focus more on what you do well and do more of that!

And finally, everyone has challenges: you are worthy, you are enough, and you are capable.


What are you looking forward to post gap year?


I am looking forward to learning and exploring.

There are 3 words I am focusing on in my immediate future - Connect, Create and Perform!

I want to learn how to connect deeply with people, explore creativity and performance in different ways. I decided to start that journey by going into Psychology at University. In addition to learning about this subject, I want to develop skills and bring them to the next level, especially my skills in organizing, planning and prioritizing. 

I am very excited to meet new people and build deep, meaningful relationships, where I feel safe, loved and challenged. I want to surround myself with positive and ambitious people.

I want to make my physical and mental health a priority.

Last, but not least, I want to gather as much information about myself as possible. Information about my emotional reactions so I can build more resilience and understand how to get through setbacks more smoothly. Information about my interests, what I am good at, what is fulfilling to me, and what makes me feel happy.