Taking a gap year can be a daunting process, whether you’re a student taking an adventurous time-out after years of education, or a professional looking for a new experience.
Once you take the decision of going for a gap year, there are many things that you should prepare and have in mind.
Here you will find some tips to be prepared for you gap year!
What is a gap year?
It is usually a break taken from study or work in order to get new experiences, to find the real vocation before to go to the college or even take a break before retirement.
Following on from this definition, if you’re a professional taking a break from your work life, you’re more likely to refer to this year as a “sabbatical year”. The term “gap year” is more applied to students who take a year usually between high school and college. A gap year can be any break taken between life stages.
Why take a gap year?
There are many reasons why you might want to take a gap year. Usually, students do it to gain international and personal experience and a different point of view before they decide their university studies
Some common reasons to take a gap year include:
Get to know new cultures: Taking a defer year can be a great way to immerse yourself in another country.
Gain relevant work experience and key skills: You’ll gain plenty of experience, skills and knowledge, which can be highly valuable when applying for jobs later on. For instance, study Spanish in Spain, will be more complete than study a Spanish course in UK.
Earn some money: A working year off can also be a great way to earn some extra money before starting university to cover some of the expenses.
Develop useful contacts: You’ll meet a range of different people. This could include people you can call on for job opportunities and references.
Make international friends: Living and working alongside local people during a year off abroad can mean you’ll really get to know them, allowing you to develop an understanding of different cultures and perspectives. You might even gain lifelong friends.
Challenge yourself: Many students take the year to face their fears and enjoy new experiences
Take time out between school and further studies/work: Taking a break before starting university or entering the work force can help you feel refreshed, energized and ready to tackle your course or job.
Improve and gain new life skills: This can be anything from learning and becoming fluent in a foreign language, becoming an instructor or learning how to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL).
Do something worthwhile: Such as volunteering with a charity either locally or abroad.
Many institutions report that students who have taken a gap year come back with a more mature attitude to independent study and education in general.
Types of gap year
The four most common types of gap year are:
Working gap year: Spending a year working can be useful to earn some money, gain skills and experience and start to build up a network of contacts.
Typical temporary gap year jobs include:
• Teaching or supervising an outdoor activity
• Teaching English (or a different language you are fluent in)
• Tour guide/operator
• Administration and office work
• Catering and hospitality
• Au pair
Of course, working in other countries often requires a work visa or permit – this can be difficult, but you can find great help with the professionals and allocation agencies which helps you online, to ensure everything is ready before you arrive to your destination.
Volunteering gap year: Spending the year volunteering can help increase your sense of community, help you build a network of contacts and may later lead to the offer of a permanent or paid job.
Travelling gap year: Some students choose to dedicate their year entirely to travel, either alone or with friends. There are many gap year social networking sites, with message boards and information to help you find a travel mate, share ideas and get advice for lone travelling. Many websites also provide assistance in finding accommodation in different countries.
Studying gap year: Studying during your gap year allows you to take a year out before university while still continuing to further your education. Many further education colleges and training centers also offer courses suitable for gap year students which could help you develop key skills such as office, IT and business skills, or gain extra skills and knowledge in fields such as languages, art, music, drama, sports or conservation.
How to fund a gap year
A gap year can include many costs. These include fees charged by experience providers, travel costs, living expenses, spending money, visas/work permits, driving permits, insurance, internet and mobile phone costs, equipment including a comprehensive first aid kit, any hospital, prescription or health costs, and perhaps even passport renewal.
Many gap year providers offer starter packages to help you settle into your new country more easily and saving you money (check www.spaininthebag.com) This includes organizing a bank account, medical insurance, accommodation, transit from the airport and even helping you find a job on arrival. They often provide details of all the things you’ll need to do both before and once you arrive, which can be a good resource to use when planning your budget.
Some ideas to help you fund a gap year include:
• Work before you go
• Work during the year (either in one place or while travelling)
• Open a dedicated bank account for savings and add to it regularly
• Fundraise through sponsored events and activities
• Ask your family and friends to donate (perhaps instead of birthday gifts) or ask them for paid chores
• Sell some of your unwanted items online
• Apply for a grant or a loan from government/federal funding bodies, charities and grant-making trusts
• Apply for funding from a local charity or service club
• Apply for a bank loan or a training loan (known in the UK as Career Development Loans)
References: Hasna Haidar http://www.topuniversities.com/blog/what-gap-year
Oct 12, 2016