Ahhh, the excitement of it all! For many, a gap year conjures up images of heading off to exotic locations, meeting new people, and having life-changing new experiences – all with the freedom promised by being away from home for a few months. It is no wonder that so many people from so many different countries decide to take a gap year.
Traditionally, a gap year was taken by students who had left sixth form college and just before they headed off to university. However, these days, gap years are being taken by a range of people at different times in their lives, and they don’t have to last a year, either. But before you sign up for a gap year it is worth taking a moment to understand exactly what you are letting yourself in for.
- What Is A Gap Year?
A gap year can be made up of a number of different activities, but common ones include doing some conservation work, some adventurous travelling, going to summer school, or even doing an internship. Many people break down their gap year to include some paid work too, which helps pay for things while they are away. The key is not to waste the time by doing nothing – a gap year is about doing something productive with your time out.
- What Can I Expect To Get Out Of It?
What you get out of your gap year will depend on exactly what you do. If you are trying to decide what you want to do on your gap year, you might want to think about what you want to get out of it? Perhaps you want to get some work experience, learn a new skill or craft, boost your existing skills (such as in a foreign language), or even improve your confidence and independence. Once you have an idea what you hope to gain from your time out you can search for appropriate gap year opportunities.
- How Will A Gap Year Impact My Career Choices?
It is worth having a think about what you want to do as a career and how your gap year can help you with that. You don’t want potential employers to think that you just wasted a year of your life, especially when you can actually use the gap year to your career advantage! Think about the type of skills you might need to get into your chosen career and see how these match up with those you can expect to gain on your gap year. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take an internship in your chosen industry, as you can learn other useful transferable skills elsewhere – such as in leadership and communication. Having taken a successful gap year can also help you stand out from the crowd when it comes to finding work and getting through a job interview.
- What About My Studies?
If you are planning a gap year between your studies, you might want to think of the impact this might have. It can be tough to get back into the studying mind-set after a long break. If you think this may the case for you, you might want to reconsider taking a gap year right now. Speak to your teachers, friends, and your potential university (if you plan on going) to see what they think too. You may even be able to get some support.
- Will It Be Expensive?
Whether something is expensive is relative to how much money you have and if you think the cost is worth it, but yes, gap years do cost money, and some don’t come cheap! You will need to think about the costs of the trip, how you will fund it, and how long you want to go for.
- Should I Go With A Friend?
Deciding whether to go with a friend or by yourself is also an important consideration. Having a friend or a group of friends with you can help you stop feeling lonely while you are away, but if you pick the wrong people you could end up having arguments. If you are planning to go with company, make sure that you and your friends want the same thing and have similar expectations from the gap year, otherwise you could come back with less friends than you started with!