A gap year is a break from studying, usually taken after finishing school and before entering university. It can also be a year between bachelor’s and master’s degrees. This is a unique opportunity to get to know yourself better, visit remote corners of the planet or gain practical experience in fields that inspire you the most.
A gap year is by no means a period of lazy vacation and doing nothing. The main point is to plan this time so that there is no excruciating pain for wasted money. Start by defining your goals. What do you want to achieve this year? Traveling, gaining new knowledge, volunteering, maybe an internship? Create a flexible plan that will allow you to fit in different activities.
How can you spend this year to be proud of yourself later? And do you avoid large financial losses? Keep reading to find out!
1. Take Part In Volunteer Programs
Spending a year working with charities, fundraising, or volunteering initiatives will give you an unforgettable experience. Plus, volunteer programs usually cover most (or all) of your expenses, so you won’t be left in the red.
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With the help of volunteering, you will become responsible, disciplined and will easily adapt to a new environment. A similar set of personal qualities is often mentioned in most job openings, especially in the social sphere.
Social work involves helping disadvantaged or marginalized groups, as well as participating in projects to improve the lives of local communities. It can be anything – from building playgrounds to planting trees in parks.
As for other ideas, animal care is perfect for future biologists, zoologists, and veterinarians. These types of programs usually involve working in animal shelters or rehabilitation centers. You may also get the experience of living in exotic countries, be it caring for elephants and monkeys in nature reserves in Malaysia or rescuing street dogs and donkeys in India.
Also, pay attention to conservation projects – for example, caring for endangered animals, protecting the rainforest from deforestation, or cleaning the oceans from plastic. This will give you experience participating in international initiatives and working in a team, and will also teach you to think broadly and globally.
2. Develop Specific Skills
Acquiring new skills is surely a reason to take a gap year and explore the world. The range of offers here is truly enormous: courses in alpine ski racing in Switzerland, water sports (diving, windsurfing), studying the history of art in Italy, learning Chinese in Shanghai, etc. There are special offers for graduates, so look for programs with bonuses and discounts so that your financial situation won’t worsen.
Another great idea is to become an English teacher abroad. As a native speaker of the world’s most in-demand language, you can complete a 5-week CELTA or DELTA course and easily find students all over the world. You may even work with Buddhist monks in Laos or other distant places.
This path will help you find your dream job and get realistic ideas about different areas.
3. Do An Internship
A paid internship in a field that you are passionate about is a great way to spend a gap year. From medicine and teaching to engineering, office and IT work, the choice is huge.
Just imagine: medical practice in Tanzania, engineering in Asia, PR & marketing in Australia… This will allow you not only to gain work experience and enrich your CV, but also to travel around the world. The internship duration is usually 2 weeks to 6 months.
4. Find A Job
This may not be the most inspiring activity on the list. However, it will help you hone the skills needed for your future profession, or simply earn money to pay the tuition.
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The choice of a specific position depends on you: work as a freelancer, go to a summer camp, etc. You can also try to get a job abroad. But before this, prepare everything in advance – do a profound research, choose a program, submit an application, get your documents in order, and so on.
Look for job descriptions of your dreams – what knowledge and skills does the employer require? Take the time to study them. There are many online courses for this, including free ones.
5. Get A New Experience
During this year, you may become a babysitter using the Au pair program, go hitchhiking, or organize your own small business. During your university years, you will be unlikely to have free time for that.
Perhaps you have come up with an idea for some project recently? But, most likely, you didn’t have time to implement it. A gap year may be the ideal period to develop this project: you will finally find the strength to open a small business, write a book, create a photo exhibition, start a blog, etc. All this can become a source of income and help your future career.
To Wrap It Up
Life goes on in a crazy rhythm and catches us in its whirlpool. Once one stage is finished, you should give yourself time to think and take a short break before the second is started.
A gap year is an amazing time to explore your personality and choose the desired field of activity. But to avoid debts, choose programs that will pay for your accommodation (at least partially) or paid internships and jobs. Moreover, you can try to earn money on your own by implementing a business idea and trying your hand at something completely new.