What To Do During A Gap Year
Taking a year off before college is an opportunity to get your adventure fix while learning practical skills and deciding which direction to choose in life.
A gap year is a chance for you to experience independence and build on your resume. Planning your gap year will allow you to get the most out of your year off.
Taking the time to create a structured gap year plan means you’ll have the time to tackle the big questions in life and still try out different career options in a real-world context. You might discover a new passion or confirm that the path you were considering is the right one for you.
Make the most of your gap year by choosing a volunteer or internship program that fits your interests and goals or that could help you crystallize these if they are still unclear for you.
Here are a few awesome gap year ideas to help you make the most of your year off.
1) Volunteer With A Cause You Are Passionate About
One of the best ways to spend a gap year is by contributing to an issue you care deeply about. Want to help clear the oceans of plastic waste? Maybe you would like to work with conservation groups to protect endangered sea turtle species? You could also be fervently involved in facilitating women’s own empowerment? Your gap year is a chance to leap into action and make a difference.
Volunteering abroad in a field close to your heart can help you to find purpose and gain fulfillment. There is always a demand for volunteers in areas such as marine or wildlife conservation, education, and community development.
Contributing to a cause you care about is rewarding, and not just because of the personal satisfaction you’ll feel. This is a chance to learn more about international development as well as your area of specific interest. Seeing practical applications of solutions and research will give you a deeper understanding of the cause and illuminate the ways in which you can action change.
You’ll take this knowledge and experience home with you, so you can continue to make a difference in your everyday life. With your new insider’s perspective, you might even decide to turn your passion into a full-time career. Either way, you’ll get the chance to make valuable connections in the field and gain mentors and friends with shared interests along the way.
There are limitless volunteer opportunities out there, so it’s easy to tailor your experience to fit your gap year. You can choose to commit just a few weeks or several months, and you can opt for programs in locations such as South Africa, Laos, or Thailand.
2) Dive Into Adventure Travel
Aim to push your boundaries during your gap year. Adventure travel helps you break out of your comfort zone and develop practical skills while delivering a steady supply of thrills.
The more you push yourself, the more you will learn about your own limits. Adventure travel is an excellent means of stretching yourself in the most fun way possible. Whether you are learning to scuba dive in order to conduct coral reef surveys or learning how to track cheetahs in the South African savanna, if what you are doing gets your heart pumping, chances are it is pushing you beyond your limits. Overcoming this preconceived idea of your own limitations will help you grow as a person and that’s what a gap year is all about.
Challenging yourself doesn’t have to mean leaping wildly into the unknown. For adrenaline balanced with structure and support, you can opt for an adventurous volunteer or intern abroad program. For instance, you can combine a journey to Mount Everest’s base camp with community volunteering in Nepal. Or go wild and learn how to volunteer on wildlife conservation projects in South Africa.
Whether you’re whitewater rafting in the rainforests of Costa Rica or trekking the Inca Trail in Peru, adventure travel allows you to learn more about how global issues are taking shape in local communities and environments around the world. Becoming immersed in an environment where these topics are a daily reality helps translate global development from an abstract concept into a tangible one. An internship or volunteer program can further help you learn about issues in the world and how you can contribute to community development or environmental conservation.
3) Broaden Your Educational Horizons Through Experiential Learning
Wait, isn’t the whole point of taking a year off school to explore the world outside the classroom? Will this might be true, it doesn’t mean you have to put learning on hold.
Your gap year gives you time to acquire skills and knowledge that weren’t necessarily accessible in the classroom. One of the main benefits of a gap year is that the whole world will become your classroom and you’ll grow through experiential learning.
This is essentially a process of learning by doing. During your gap year, you can grab the opportunity for hands-on learning to add some new skills to your repertoire. This is about taking on more than academic topics and learning things you never could in a school setting. When thinking about what to do during a gap year, consider what kind of experience you would like to pick up. It could be learning basic first aid, achieving your PADI Divemaster certification, or developing leadership skills. Once you have an idea of what you would like to work on, it’s just a matter of choosing a volunteer program or internship that delivers the right learning opportunities.
The practical and personal life skills you develop through experiential learning on your gap year will set you up for success in many areas.
4) Intern Abroad To Enjoy The Best Of Both Work And Play
If you don’t know what career path you’d like to take straight out of high school, test the waters with an internship abroad during your gap year. This lets you try out jobs in the context of the real world while also giving you the chance to travel abroad on your year off.
You don’t have to match your internship up with your planned career choice. Internships with GVI are designed to build soft skills that you can apply to just about any other job you choose to take up in the future. This makes your gap year internship a great opportunity to explore previous interests or explore a range of options wider than those you have considered before to get a feel for what suits you.
Internships give your employability a huge boost when the time comes to look for a job. An internship abroad during your gap year is a fast track to developing work-related skills and increasing your hirability. No matter what program you choose, your completed internship will look great on your resume and prove that you have the dedication to follow through on a commitment. It clearly demonstrates that you have the communication skills and adaptability to work successfully in an international environment.
The best part is you can choose an internship in exciting travel destinations like Seychelles, Mexico, and Thailand. You can spend your time diving in Fiji’s crystalline waters to conduct coral research or help conduct health checks on elephants in Northern Thailand’s dense forest landscape. If you still don’t know what to do with a gap year, interning abroad provides the perfect mix of career development and a sense of adventure.
5) Learn A Language And Become Culturally Fluent
Speaking a second language speaks volumes about you. Learning a language during your gap year will enable you to add a valuable skill to your resume, plus it improves your communication skills and opens up more opportunities for deeper cultural exchange.
In today’s globalized world, speaking a second language is a highly sought-after skill in the workplace. Intercultural communication is essential in international business. And as well as being a practical skill, learning a language also reveals a lot about your interest in engaging with other cultures as well as your commitment to personal development.
The best way to learn a language during your gap year is to select a volunteer or internship program that runs for one month or more and, ideally, one where you can add a language component like any of our community development programs around the world. You can learn you can put into practice while you’re on the program, thereby deepening your travel experience.
GVI’s teaching internship in Costa Rica is one example of a great Spanish learning opportunity. Learning Spanish will enrich your experience on the project and give you a more in-depth insight into the local pura vida lifestyle.
6) Teach Abroad For A Complete Learning Experience
Teach abroad during your gap year and you will learn as much from the experience as your students. You’ll master valuable soft skills, such as organization, time management, adapting to working with a range of personalities, and learning how to remain calm under pressure.
The duties that come with teaching will quickly help you get comfortable taking on more and more responsibilities. This, in turn, can help give you the clarity and confidence you need to make bigger career choices.
Teaching abroad also helps you to directly contribute to global development, specifically United Nations Development Goal #4, Quality Education. In many parts of the world, there is a high demand for native English speakers to support English language learning for both children and adults. The reason for this is that growing tourism in these regions makes English language skills a desirable skill for local employers in the region. Taking on the mantle of teacher gives you the chance to help improve employment opportunities and learn from local community members in the process.
The classroom gives you an unfiltered view of daily life in your destination. You’ll be fully immersed in local life and have the chance to get to know people on a genuine level. This kind of cultural exchange is priceless and of key importance in fostering understanding between cultures. You’ll probably find your world perspective altered in the wake of your teaching experience. Returning home, you’ll have a more nuanced view of cultures other than your own and greater awareness of the accepted beliefs common to your own cultural context.
Make your gap year one for the history books and your resume. Check out GVI’s range of award-winning gap year volunteer programs and inspiring internship opportunities to kickstart a year to remember.
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