Frequently Asked Questions
1) Are international flights provided?
No - the cost of your flights to and from the program are your responsibility. However, we partner with a travel company to help you arrange the most affordable and enjoyable travel possible. We also work in rare cases with students who receive financial aid to seek options in reducing the cost of their airline tickets.
2) Are meals provided?
Yes - all meals on the program, even extra outings to bakeries, cooking classes, and late-night snacks are provided. During the cooking portions of the program all groceries, cooking tools, and equipment needed to complete the cookbook development is provided by The Food Gap.
3) Do I need extra spending money?
Yes! One of the best parts of travel is visiting new stores and buying souvenirs, so even though we pay for all of the food during the program, we recommend each students brings extra spending money. For example, we don't pay for trips to McDonalds (or encourage it) or the cost of coffee in the morning if you visit a coffee shop before scheduled activities.
4) When will I get a copy of our cookbook?
After the program is over, we will work diligently to finalize a draft of our book to be self-published. It typically takes 1-3 weeks after submitting the manuscript that the book becomes available to purchase. Tell your friends and family! We will order a copy for each student at a discount when submitting the book and ship them directly to you, which should arrive with 1-2 weeks.
5) What is accommodation like?
Accommodation is always top-notch. We prioritize safety, privacy, and a space where everyone can feel comfortable and have necessary alone time. Although you will most likely share a room with other group participants, we make sure our accommodations for the entire gap semester have great kitchens, relaxation areas, and proper plumbing, heat, and laundry facilities.
6) Will I get along with the other students?
Every participant is considered for the program before joining, and we make sure each member is passionate about food, community, and having a positive experience. We don't tolerate bullying or harassment of any kind, and we take pride in fostering a safe, kind, and welcoming environments for students to belong and grow. As in life, we can't guarantee each of your trip-mates will become best friends, but we treat each participant like family and expect you to do the same.
7) Will I get a lot of down time?
Yes. We are all complicated beings, and not one of us is going to be healthy after spending weeks with a group being constantly active and social. Therefore, we schedule a lot of relaxation time so we can all rest and recharge. We realize that we all will be much more happy, productive, and engaged with adequate privacy, rest, and independence. All group members are expected to participate in scheduled group activities and to eat with the whole group (family meals are very important to us), but in cases where students need extra alone time or accommodations for their mental and physical well-being, we will do everything possible to help.
8) Can I get a discount on the program?
Yes. We have limited scholarships available to apply for depending on your need. We provide a diversity scholarship and a financial-based scholarship each program to ensure everyone can participate in this life-changing experience. We realize that travel and indulging in food is a privilege and we will do everything we can to make sure no one is excluded from this opportunity. Please check out our Financial Aid page or email us with any questions.
9) Can I travel after the program?
Sure! Please arrange with your travel consultant to make arrangement and alterations in your flight schedule if this is the case. And of course, make sure you have a plan for accommodation and budget. We will not be responsible for any student after the program who plans to continue traveling.
10) What if I have a food allergy?
We take food allergies very seriously - please let us know immediately after applying if you have a food allergy and we will NOT forget it. We are a family and make compromises to make sure we each are safe and prosperous, so if you have to avoid certain foods or restaurants for safety reasons, so will we! Of course, we can always split into smaller groups to eat out, but we will never alienate a student based on their health needs. With that said, if you have a voluntary dietary preference, such as a vegan or vegetarian diet, we will do everything we can to help you find places to eat, but please be respectful of other group members food choices and practice non-judgment.
11) Is the program suitable for people with mental health challenges?
Yes and no. We provide a close-knit, non-judgmental, and honest environment to make sure each participant feels safe and happy. However, we are not mental health professionals, and you should choose to challenge yourself at your own discretion. Traveling and going out of your comfort zone is not for everyone, and pushing your limits is not always healthy. Please arrange with your therapist or mental health provider to prepare accordingly for the trip, and be extra kind and cautious with your brain. We provide support and access to a crisis line at all times, and hopefully one day we will be able to provide a therapist to join us on the trip. We recommend that students with a history of mental health challenges who have never traveled or lived with strangers to take more time before deciding to apply.
12) What if I'm homesick?
We all get homesick at times, and it can be a big culture shock to leave home for the first time. We arrange 1-on-1 venting sessions with program leaders for each student, and check in regularly to see how we can help ease the transition. We are here for you! With that said, maintaining a close relationship with family and friends back home can help a lot, so we make sure that we always have access to internet and cellular service (as best as we can). We encourage students to take time each week to carve out at least an hour to speak with family, friends, or a therapist, to stay connected with their lives back home. One of our favorite things about food, too, is that is can transport you to different times and places, so we encourage students to share their family recipes and traditions with us to help ease homesickness. Make sure you bring some recipes from home just in case!
13) Do we get to pick what we eat / cook?
Yes! We are recovering perfectionists and planners, and value spontaneity when traveling. One of the best ways to experience travel is through the randomness of chance and choice, so we make sure that most of our meals are chosen by our students. It's impossible to predict and plan what our cravings and dietary needs are, so we also like to split into smaller groups to accommodate for different tastes and choices. On days when we cook for ourselves, you have full reign to make whatever you want (taking other's preferences and restrictions into consideration). We encourage students to be as adventurous and spontaneous with food as possible, and we avoid eating at only award-winning restaurants or tourist spots.
14) Can I bring things from my kitchen to use?
Perhaps! Run it by us first. If our accommodation doesn't have everything we need, we are happy to go shopping for things - on us! We recommend students don't pack pans, or knives, or pizza stones, but small and safe tools could be valuable to bring. Be sure to check airline regulations before packing to adventurous. Let us know if you're thinking of packing something from home!
15) Do I need to bring a camera? What kind?
It's not necessary to buy a fancy camera before the trip - we will always allow students to borrow camera gear for photoshoots and help source anything they need. However, if you have a DSLR or film camera you'd like to bring for personal use, bring it on! We teach food photography not based on equipment, but based on lighting and resourcefulness. A good camera phone can work just as well as an expensive camera!
16) What should I pack? Will we have laundry machines?
Yes - we will always have access to laundry nearby, and we will make time each week to stay fresh. In terms of packing - bring whatever you need but less than you want. We will have plenty of time to shop for any necessities if you forget something, or add to your colorful wardrobe!
17) What if I need to pick up a medication while I'm there?
We are happy to help you with that and take health very seriously - a group leader will always accompany you to make sure there are no language barriers or obstacles in obtaining your health needs. With that said, please make a plan with your healthcare provider before leaving for the trip and do your research. We will let you know if you need a list of nearby pharmacies and hospitals.
18) Will I have fun?
Absolutely! We will take cooking classes, take day trips to some of the most beautiful places in the world, wake up and watch the sunset with pastries, and spend hours cooking and laughing with friends. The whole point of the trip, in addition to gaining life skills, growing as a person, and learning about food and culture, is to have fun! We hope you have the time of your life and can't wait to make memories together. If you're not having a good time, we'll work with you to make sure you can do more of the things that make you happy - you are in the driver's seat!