A gap year, a concept now gaining traction amongst young adults worldwide, is a break taken at the end of high school, during college, or right after graduation. This intentional break is an opportunity to step away from academic pressures and seek personal growth, adventure, and immersive experiences.
According to the American Gap Association, a gap year is a structured period of time when students take a break from formal education to increase self-awareness, learn from different cultures, and experiment with possible careers.
Why Consider a Gap Year?
A gap year is more than just a year off. It’s a year of discovery, growth, and adventure. It offers you the chance to explore the world, discover new interests, learn about different cultures, and gain life skills outside the classroom.
Benefits of a Gap Year
Travelling during a gap year has numerous benefits, especially for young adults who are new to solo travel or those who feel overwhelmed by the planning process.
- Structured Experience: Gap year programs help structure your experience, serving as a bridge between you and the host country.
- Preparation Assistance: They provide advice on entry requirements like visas and vaccinations and coordinate logistics like accommodation and local transportation.
- Local Connections: Organisations running these programs have deep-rooted connections in the locations they operate, enabling authentic cultural immersion.
- Budgeting Aid: Travelling with a gap year program helps with budgeting, as you pay many expenses upfront, thus minimising unexpected costs.
As quoted by Malia Obama, who took a gap year before joining Harvard University, “A gap year was a chance for me to step back, reflect, and come back stronger and more focused.”
Choosing the Right Gap Year Program
Selecting the right gap year program is crucial. Here’s a recorded webinar from the 2021 USA Gap Year Fairs series that can guide you through this process.
Factors to Consider
- Location: Choose a location that interests you and aligns with your goals.
- Length: The length of the program should fit your schedule.
- Cost: Make sure the program is within your budget.
- Activities: The activities included should align with your interests and goals.
Popular Gap Year Activities Around the World
The world is your oyster during a gap year! Here are some popular activities that students can pursue:
Volunteering for a Conservation Project
Countries like Costa Rica, the USA, and Peru offer numerous opportunities for conservation volunteering.
Popular Conservation Volunteer Programs:
- WWF International Volunteering Programs
- Greenpeace Environmental Internships
- Conservation International Student Programs
Work Exchange on a Farm or in a Household
For those on a tight budget or looking for work experience, work exchange programs in countries like China, Australia, and New Zealand offer unique opportunities. You can exchange your labour for living expenses on farms or households.
Popular Work Exchange Programs:
Seasonal Jobs Abroad
Countries like Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea offer seasonal jobs, allowing you to earn money while experiencing a foreign work culture.
Popular Gap Year Seasonal Work Programs:
Pursuing a Spiritual Experience
Countries like India, Thailand, and Indonesia are top destinations for spiritual programs, offering deep insights into their rich spiritual history and cultures.
Popular Spiritual Gap Year Programs:
An international internship in countries like the UK, Germany, or South Africa can provide real-world work experience in your area of interest.
Popular Gap Year Internship Programs:
Countries like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand offer working holiday visas, allowing you to fund your travel with short-term employment.
Popular Gap Year Working Holiday Programs:
Domestic Gap Year
Exploring your home country, whether it be the USA, UK, or Australia, can be as rewarding as international travel.
Popular Domestic Gap Year Programs:
Planning Your Gap Year
Now that you’re brimming with gap year ideas, it’s time to put your plan into action. Go Overseas offers thousands of reviews from gap year alumni and a range of programs from across the globe.
Remember, a gap year is a personal journey. So, whether you choose to volunteer, work, intern, or simply travel, make sure it aligns with your interests and goals. Happy planning!