Traditionally, the phrase ‘gap year’ meant a period of time taken out by students after leaving college and before starting university. Now, gap years can happen at any stage, by anyone, and for varying amounts of time. You can fly off to sunnier climates and experience different cultures or stay closer to home and sample what the UK has to offer. Whatever your destination some examples of gap year activities include: conservation work; adventure travel programmes; summer schools; and internships. Whether you want to learn a new skill, raise your cultural awareness or buy yourself some thinking time before making the move into work or further study, a gap year could be the answer…
Why are gap years beneficial?
- Develop your transferable skills – whether it’s learning to budget when planning your trip or using your initiative to make your way across Australia, you’ll have developed lots of skills that employers want.
- Raise your cultural awareness – living and working alongside local people will allow you to appreciate other cultures and having friends all over the world can only be a good thing.
- Increase your confidence and independence – having to speak to new groups of people every day will definitely help you to come out of your shell. While arranging travel, finding accommodation and surviving on your own money are great ways to show that you’re independent.
- Allow you to learn a new craft – if there’s something that you’ve always wanted to try then your gap year is a great time to give it a go. Whether you fancy surfing, teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL), filmmaking, cookery or even the art of kung fu, this is your chance to broaden your horizons.
- Increase your work experience – there aren’t many jobs that don’t require some work experience, and a gap year is a great time to start building this. Try to keep the majority of it related to your course, for example, if you want to be a teacher look for opportunities to work with, children and consider community work if you want to get into social care.
- Improve your language skills – try to pick up some useful phrases and then build on them each day. Not only will this endear you to the locals, it might also help you get a job when you return. Many organisations now trade globally and having someone in their organisation who can speak the language is a huge asset.