Possibly the best way of broadening horizons that may feel constricted after years of sitting in a classroom would be a gap year. You'll gain more life experience than you would travelling to and from a monotonous job every day - especially if you're gong as far afield as Australia or the Far East - and not only would you be learning about the world around you, you'll be gaining invaluable knowledge about ... yourself.
But how to spend that gap year? Far too many people still think it's an excuse to travel far away, out of sight of parental eyes, and get up to all the high jinks people get up to when their parents aren't watching. This is a mistake. Of course, there will always be people who’ll travel halfway round the world for a 52-week party, but these days they're the exception, not the rule.
That's because in this economic climate, people are taking their future career plans much more seriously than they've ever had to before. Yes, there's a lot to be said for a spot of socialising while sapling the local brew, but these days that socialising tends to take place in a bar at the end of the working day, after putting in some hard graft beforehand.
That hard graft would be anything from volunteer work in developing countries, where the bar bills won't be high - but then again, neither will the amount you'll be earning, whether you're helping to build a school or repair the damage caused by some natural disaster.
Or you could be laying the groundwork for your future career as an intern somewhere overseas, where the bar bills will be considerably higher, but then again, so will your chances of being selected out of all those other job applicants on your return to the UK with some glowing commendations and references from a major foreign employer on your CV.
But there's no law that says you actually have to go through passport control at the start of your gap year: you could always choose to remain at home - or at least close by - and do whatever it takes to build up a little nest-egg and some varied work experience that will make interesting reading on your CV - whatever you find yourself in the way of a job.
Wherever you spend your gap year, and however you choose to spend it (unless, of course, you're planning to whoop it up for twelve months straight, in which case, good luck to you when you get back) you'll find yourself developing a sense of responsibility, some team-working skills and a great deal of self-reliance - and you'll have some interesting stories to tell at the end of it, so … go for it!
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