Things To Consider Before Embarking On A Gap Year
It’s time for a change. Time to go somewhere else and gain new experiences. But 365 days is a long time, and making rash decisions may make it even longer.
Work or fun?
Do you want to take a gap year to gain experience in a certain field ( perhaps by taking a course or having a placement), or do you want to use it to step back and relax? Although you may have a bucket list and this is the best time to bring it to life, remember that life goes on once you finish said gap year.
Consider the following:
Placements: a gap year used for placements can give you skills that will make you stand out from other candidates. It will also give you a chance to explore different career paths.
However, if you’re looking for something relaxing, this might not be your first choice. Placements, although highly rewarding, are often unpaid and demand the same amount of energy and dexterity as any paid job.
Travelling: not to mention the fact that you will get the longest holidays ever, you will get to experience new cultures, new ways of life and visit places people only dream of going to (if they had the time… which you do!).
Whether it’s with friends or by yourself, it’s a magnificent time to cease the routine of work and be able to just live. However, it can be expensive and upon return you may feel you have “wasted” time you could have spent on progressing in your desired career, not to mention that you will be one year behind your non-gap year friends.
It depends on what you are doing, of course, but either choice will deplete your savings (unless you have a well-paid work placement, in which case, please reveal your secrets). The last thing you want is to run out of money in a foreign country, so unless you have a grand amount of savings and you plan your expenses down to a tee, you will need to find ways to work.
Whether you are staying at hostel, hotel, or family home, cultural differences will come to play and it is not only enough to implement etiquette rules you found on the internet. Immersing yourself in another country’s lifestyle is a highly rewarding experience, but it comes at the expense of forfeiting your own customs.
Solo or group?
If you are going with somebody, planning a trip of this magnitude means that you must trust that your travelling buddy will be on the same wavelength as you, but you must also be prepared for the worst if you two fall out.
If you decide to travel solo, this comes with the caution that safety might be an issue. Defending on where you go and who you go with, you will be a foreigner with nothing more than a travel backpack. Do your research and do it well, and make sure to always do your research and make smart decisions.
Plans for the future
So what happens when you get back? Keep in mind that your experiences during that one year might change your plans for the future. Perhaps you realized that, in the end, uni is not for you. Perhaps you realized you do want to continue with higher education, but no longer want to study the same degree. If you have plans, they might chance, and you have to be ready for it.
Maybe you are one border away, maybe an ocean separates you. Either way, there may come a point when you just want to go home. You are exhausted from walking all day, you are tired of wearing the same four pairs of pants on rotation, you’re okay with money but have gone over your budget, and you miss being in the company of people who understand you and where you come from.
You may feel now that all you need is to get as far away from home, but be prepared for tackling feelings of homesickness because chances are, they will come.
Inspiring Interns is a recruitment agency specialising in all the internships and graduate jobs London has to offer. Xiomara Meyer is a drama and creative writing graduate with an interest in psychology and the slightly bizarre. She is part of Hitting Heads Productions.