A gap year is the span of time after high school where students take a year off before going to college or university. Embarking on this journey is both thrilling yet intimidating. Planning it may be a daunting process, but a well-structured and productive gap year can launch your studies and career in the right direction. Here are some ways you may maximize your gap year so that your year off can become your year on.
If you are still clueless on where to start on your gap year journey, the best way to narrow down your options would be to get inspiration from others. Read up on real stories by real people. There are literally thousands of testimonials on the web by former gap year students. Travel stories will give you a sense of pragmatism and insights of other people’s experiences, which in turn gives you the boost of confidence you need to step out of your comfort zone. Alternatively, you may spend some time with people you know that have gone through a gap year. Be all ears and take down notes which you would think is relevant to your plans. Also, make sure to seek advice if you want to talk your ideas further through.
One of the biggest problems that most students face while taking a gap year is money. It may seem like an opportunity for the filthy rich, but there are many ways that you can enjoy the experience without breaking the bank. The common route that most students will go for is to work while they travel in their destination country. There are many paid work opportunities such as an au pair, ranch jobs, teaching jobs, caretaker and so on. Do not expect to be offered a glamorous job because the main purpose that you are working for these jobs are to fund your travels.
Another method of solving your financial woes is to break up your gap year into smaller trips. This is a very doable approach as you are able to work part-time first and pay for your trip later. It is always advisable to work first, so that you have a rough estimate on your travelling budget.
To minimize your travel expenses, you should simply explore your backyard. You do not have to travel the world to experience an adventure because there are always opportunities everywhere, even if it is close to home.
Working or interning during your gap year gives you the opportunity to build up your skills. The skills can be particularly beneficial if they are related to the course you are majoring in. These valuable skills and experiences will be brought into the working world as employers prefer candidates who have prior involvement in the working world and not just an excellent academic record.
Building your skills do not have to solely stem from working, as volunteering can be equally beneficial. Being involved in volunteering abroad will not only make you a better person, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to absorb yourself in a completely different culture. Moreover, volunteering puts you in situations where you are forced to interact with people, thus enhancing your people’s skills.
Probably one of the most essential aspects to maximizing a gap year is to be open to suggestions and experience new things. It could involve meeting new people, learning a new language, participating in a cultural activity, etc. Choosing somewhere new to go is the simple part, but having to put yourself out there and truly be open to new experiences can be challenging. There will be a lot of chances to venture outside your comfort zone as the world has a lot to offer. So, open your eyes and soak up the culture.
Entering college can add new emotional, financial, and personal stresses which are the leading cause of mental health problems among students. Taking a year off can provide meaningful experiences that help students reevaluate how they understand themselves and the world. To do so, it is crucial to make some time for self-reflection even through a busy gap year. During your alone time, jot your experiences in a journal and ask yourself what are the people around you teaching you as well as how your gap year is making you a better person. Through this, it can inspire critical self-reflection to cultivate the right moral feelings and disposition to make the most out of your gap year experience.
Although a gap year is not a universal thing, but if it is not common around where you live, you should consider doing it. This is because; it is a nurturing that you should not miss out on.
Article written by Jillian Cheong and images compiled by Jeremy Chew from iPrice Group.