A refreshing break before or after your studies, or just a chance to see the world? What does a gap year mean to you?
Everyone’s heard of it, but what exactly is it? The Encarta dictionary describes it as:
“A period of time taken off by a student after the completion of secondary education and before starting higher or further education.”
But that’s not strictly true. You see, you can take a gap year before or after university. You could even take a year out during your course and come back to your studies afterwards. But the term gap year always refers to the period between leaving school and starting work. Once you’ve entered the working world, it’s known as a career break.
It doesn’t have to be a year
And don’t be deceived by the world “year” either. Your gap year can be as long or as short as you want it to be. Some people take a couple of months, some people take a year and some go for even longer � the choice is yours.
Travel is the name of the game
You can take a year out to do anything � whether that’s working for your dad’s business or just taking a break from studying. But the term gap year is specifically used for people who take time out to go travelling. Africa, Asia, Australia � it doesn’t matter, but you have to leave the country.
Your typical gap year
There are literally millions of different things that you can do on your gap year and what you do with yours is completely up to you. But there are a couple of activities that gap travellers seem to love
If there’s one thing gap traveller’s love, it’s volunteering. It's a really rewarding addition to your trip and will make it that little bit special. Some people choose conservation, others teaching and yet more community development � but whatever they choose, they know they’re making a real difference.
And it’s not just because it’s so worthwhile. Volunteering gives you a unique view of the world. You’ll be living, working and socialising with local people and that’s a whole new experience. You’ll see a new culture from within and get to know people from every corner of the globe.
An internship is a great way to develop skills while you travel and that makes it perfect for gap year travellers. It makes a great addition to your UCAS application and will look great on your CV. So whether you’re about to start uni or have just finished, an internship could be just what you need to make your travels more productive. And it makes a great argument when you’re trying to convince your parents it’s a good idea too.
Saving money isn’t easy when you’re studying, but that shouldn’t stop you from travelling. You see, you can earn while you travel and maybe even come home with more money than you left with. The most popular job for gap year travellers is teaching English.
All you need is a TEFL course and you can teach English in countries around the world. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and will give you a chance to make a real difference. And it’ll look great on your CV too.
So you know what a gap year is, the question is � will you take one? And if you do, what will you do? You’ve got a lot of decisions to make before you jet off on your adventures, but we’ve got some nifty articles to help you out. Take a look at our “Where can you go on your gap year?” and “What can you do on your gap year” articles. Or head straight to our gap year resources for even more useful articles.