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Gap Year | Why And Where You Should Take It

charlotte

Taking a Gap Year is an age-old tradition that is becoming more popular among the young and not so young. Why is it so popular? Well, for starters, it changes your life. It is an opportunity to go outside your routine and discover new things. And, while doing so, you might discover your true passion. Or, perhaps, find the place where you truly belong.

The reasons for taking a Gap Year are diverse: from needing a change to looking for better opportunities. Whatever your reason for taking this year off, we want to help you live it to the best of your ability. So, we have prepared an article with all the keys to making the most of this life-changing experience.

If you’ve already had any experiences with Gap Years leave it in the comments! Other adventurous souls will surely benefit from your experience.

Gap Year | Why And Where You Should Take It

gap year

Ok, first things first. We will start with a brief description of what a Gap Year truly is, and what it isn’t. With it, you can decide if it is actually for you or if you’re looking for something different. Then, we will get into all the details and things you may not even have thought about! Don’t worry, it happens.

Excitement sometimes makes us forget even to pack our bags before jumping to the adventure! So, to spare you that kind of thing, here’s our extensive Gap Year guide.

What’s a Gap Year? 

Reasons for living in Madrid

For this, we will skip the dictionary definitions. When it comes to things of the heart, those usually don’t quite cover it. So, what is a Gap Year, then? It is like a leap into the void that connects you with a new perspective on life. Specifically, a gap year is a period where an adventurous, curious and hungry person travels to find him or herself. It is a journey of discovery through places visited, persons met and experiences lived.

gap year is often used to study abroad, learn a language or acquire skills and knowledge. Maybe even change careers. So it is usually used to participate in study, work, or volunteer experiences. And, also, doing what we all love: travel the world!

Basic Traits of a Gap Year

Not everything people call a gap year is a gap year. In other words, a gap year is not the same as moving to another city or taking a vacation. So, here, we are going to define some of the keys for a real gap year.

  • A gap year usually lasts between 9 and 18 months. Although ultimately it is you who decides how long you need to live that experience.
  • Adventurers usually go to live outside their home countries.
  • It is not a gap year unless it involves discovering the world.
  • Personal and professional evolution is intrinsic to this experience.
  • Making new relationships is essential to living a complete adventure.
  • You will have to disconnect from the routine when you visit places, make new friends, and live incredible adventures.

Reasons to Take a Gap Year

Reasons to Take a Gap Year

We agree that traveling is one of the most enriching experiences that anyone can live, right? But, more than that, a gap year leads you to add language, study, or work experiences to your life story. Next, we will tell you 5 reasons why you should definitely do a gap year.

Antidote against routine

If the idea of doing the same thing every day terrifies you, a gap year is perfect for you. Through the gap year, you will leave everyday life behind and open the door to the extraordinary. In addition, it has been shown that those who take this time, return to their activities with greater motivation. This is because they are focused on doing what makes them happy.

Amazing stories to tell

By having the opportunity to travel through wonderful landscapes, interact with people outside your world and live new experiences. Furthermore, your memory will be filled with inspiring stories to tell when you return home. Through them, everyone will be able to see how much you have changed.

And if grey days come, you can remember the unforgettable moments you lived in your gap year. That way, you’ll always have extra gasoline to keep going when things get rough.

See the world’s diversity first hand

Travel is the gateway to the world. When you leave your country you will see new ways of life and you will discover traditions. Furthermore, you will know different ways of understanding the world. This will give you a global awareness that will make you more empathetic with others. Besides, it will be quite the experience.

Learning or improving your skills in a language

Immersing yourself in culture also means swimming in the sea of languages. Living 24/7 in a country with a language different from yours will inevitably lead you to learn it. Has Spanish or French always eluded you? Traveling to the places where it is spoken, Canada or Spain, for example, will help you to internalize it naturally.

You’ll find yourself

Being away from home, you will find a strength within you that you may not have seen before. . Suddenly, you feel more confident in yourself! Turns out, you’re no longer as shy, disorganized, or lazy as you thought.

Traveling for a whole year changes you, fills you with confidence and self-esteem. Furthermore, it teaches you to solve problems and to be the owner of your emotions. In addition, it makes you aware of what you are, what you want, and what you want to be.

When To Do a Gap Year

This is the time to do a Gap Year

One of the most frequent questions by adventurers is: what is the ideal time to take a gap year? It is usually high school or university graduates who are most encouraged to live this transformative experience.

However, it is becoming more and more common (and sometimes necessary) for working adults of any age. After all, they need to take some time to re-evaluate and analyze if they are living the life they dreamed. Therefore, the most sensible answer is that it is YOU who determines the ideal time to do your gap year.

For example, if you just finished your studies and don’t know which career to pursue, travel and expand your horizon. Likewise, if you have just finished university and want to improve your employment possibilities, do a gap year. It will give you a global vision and provide the social and cultural skills necessary for the modern job market.

If you are unhappy in your current job, you can reinvent yourself while in another country. So, to sum up, a gap year is the perfect opportunity to evaluate your life, define new purposes, and reconnect with the meaning of your existence.

Gap Year Goals

Gap Year Goals

Taking a gap year means investing a year of your life for your interests and goals. It is useless to take a year off to be on the couch at home watching television and wasting time. So, to give your gap year the importance it deserves. If we want to achieve something, we have to set our minds to it. Still, we know that sometimes it is not easy to define those goals. So we are going to give you some examples below.

Travel

Traveling is a concept almost inherent in a gap year. The vast majority of people who decide to take a gap year do so outside of their countries. In fact, this is the best way to really disconnect and break the monotony of our lives, jobs, and relationships. Therefore, keep in mind that if you decide to do this, living in another country will almost be a requirement.

A career change

Many people come to a point when they realize that their job is unfulfilling and they are unhappy. A gap year is an excellent time to reinvent yourself professionally. Or even to rediscover the passion for the major you chose. Studying abroad is getting easier, you just need to find the studies you want to do.

Language goals

It can be very frustrating not to speak a language fluently and see opportunities slip by because of that. And we know that the best way to learn a language is living it. Therefore, a gap year can be very useful for this purpose. For example, imagine doing a gap year in Spain. How far could your Spanish level go?

Leave your routine behind

Sometimes, after a breakup, a bad friendship experience, or simply because of monotony, we feel the need to disconnect. But it’s hard to disconnect when you keep doing the same old thing, in the usual places. A gap year allows you precisely to put an end to all that. Go miles away from home, grow as a person and come back with a more adult perspective.

Make friends

There are few pleasures in life that surpass the pleasure of making new friends. And what could be better than making friends abroad? With them, you can live adventures in an unknown place, so the experience is even more intense.

In addition, by making friends from other countries, you will also have the opportunity to continue traveling to visit them. So don’t forget to ask if they have room to spare!

In addition to these objectives, there may be many others, some very specific and particular. It is up to you to ponder the decision. And to ask yourself what your own goals are during the experience. Write them down on paper, visualize them and focus your energies to achieve them.

Keys to Make the Most of Your Gap Year

Gap Year Keys

Many people avoid this part, although we strongly believe that it is one of the most important ones. Going on an adventure is fine, but we are talking about a year, not two or three months. Therefore, you must do everything possible so that those 12 months benefit you to the maximum.

We advise you not only to plan it exhaustively but to reflect on what you want from it. Fun? Satiate your curiosity? Or something deeper? Whatever it is, keep it in mind. Remember you’ll be on your own, and everything is up to you now.

Learn the local language or improve it

Yes, we’ve mentioned this many, many times. But it is just that big of a deal. It doesn’t matter if it is a widespread language like Spanish or Chinese, or something like Irish or Maltese. Anything that makes you grow is worth doing!

If your case, however, is that you want to perfect that language that you have been learning for years. One that you have never been able to certify or prove your real mastery. Then going to a country where this language is the vehicle will help you to test yourself and perfect it. It is a golden opportunity!

Try many new things

Have you always wanted to dance but have never found the courage to do so in your country? Or write? Or paint? The gap year period is an “empty” time that you can fill by doing whatever you want. You have no overlapping obligations, no pressing issues to deal with that leave no time for everything else.

We believe that it is a brilliant idea that you try those activities that catch your attention. Those that, in a normal situation, in your own country, you would surely never try. Surfing, mountaineering, dramatic art, horse riding… You have 12 whole months, make the most of them because they will not return.

Research work opportunities

A problem that haunts many people today is that they do not feel fulfilled in their jobs. For one reason or another, they have ended up doing a job that they are tired of. Or one that simply does not satisfy them.

You can use your gap year precisely to turn this situation around. Try to investigate what motivates you. Think about where you see yourself in 40 years. What will you be working on? Hopefully, something that provides you well-being and makes you go to sleep every night satisfied.

It is not an easy task, but with a gap year ahead, the difficulty is reduced. Not only because of the good times that we have ahead of us. And because of the calm and excitement of knowing things are about to change. But because this will be a time of transformation and self-discovery. So, even if you don’t know what you are passionate about, you’ve taken the first step in the right direction!

Find international job options here!

Make friends from other countries and cultures

Yes! We must insist on this point as well. Because one of the most magical things that happen while living elsewhere is seeing others doing the same… But from countries and backgrounds completely different from yours! Multiculturality is an amazing thing to experience. And there are many people who leave their home in search of precisely this.

If we stop to think, it seems incredible how different two human beings can be simply because of their origin. Not only the traditions of the place but the language, expressions, treatment of each other. It is spectacular.

Open your mind, face your fears

As with the first point, everything related to knowing ourselves and introspecting we usually take quite badly. But sometimes it’s something that just needs to be done, for our own good.

What good is traveling 10,000 km if your ideas are still retrograde or hermetic? Have you experienced how amazing it can be to open your mind? To try to understand ways of living that are so far from your own?

If you are afraid of living alone, give it a try. If you are afraid of the water, go to a coastal city, and give water activities a try. Get close to your fears and when you’re ready, tackle them head-on. What better time than the best time of your life, in the middle of a gap year?

Get to work, even if it’s not your field

Many people are somewhat reluctant to work in a profession other than their own. Especially people who do the gap year somewhat later in life, having already studied their career of choice. This could be an example of a closed mind, because why not give it a try?

It is not something that you are going to do for life. And, of course, we are talking about totally decent jobs. The worst thing that can happen to you is that you do so badly that you get kicked out on your first day. And if so, what do you care if you were just trying? You get the experience, and, depending on your mood, even a laugh when you tell your friends and family.

In addition, working will give you a professional experience abroad, you will meet many people. And, perhaps, you will also learn customer service if the job is a public one.

Travel

This cannot be missing from your “to-do” list during your gap year. So, try to save up before or during your journey. This way, you can make at least one trip to a place that you are curious to know. It does not matter if it is only 2 or 3 days, it does not matter if you do it alone or with someone but do it.

Traveling with a group of friends is usually a super fun experience from which you learn a lot. If you do it alone, it is also a great experience. And, it will help you get to know yourself better and give you a brutal boost in self-confidence.

The Best Countries to Live a Gap Year

Countries for Gap Year

Gap Year in Australia

Australia

Paradise beaches, multicultural cities, incredible natural parks, and unique fauna in the world. These are some of the ingredients that make Australia such an attractive country for so many tourists. But it also has a great advantage over many other destinations.

You see, with the Student and the Work and Holiday visas, you can study and work legally in the country. This makes it an ideal destination to live a gap year experience.

Many young people decide to visit this country for a long time. They take the opportunity to study, while they work to pay their expenses and travel. A good setup for a gap year in Australia is to start with a vocational course in an interesting area. Here we share some of our gap year experiences in Australia.

Gap Year in New Zealand

Tauranga

That they chose New Zealand to film The Lord of the Rings and Narnia among many others, is no coincidence. This is a country that breathes magic in its incredible landscapes. And is also an experience for lovers of adventure sports: bungee jumping, rafting, canyoning, etc. 

It is said that in New Zealand there are more sheep than people. And it is true that it is a very quiet country where you can enjoy nature. This country has so much to offer you’ll be amazed.

As in Australia, in New Zealand, you can study and work to pay for the expenses of the experience with your visa. In other words, you can work there to pay for your Gap Year. The experiences that you can choose to live in New Zealand are very varied, have a look!

Gap Year in Canada

Whistler

The third of our recommendations in Canada. This North American country full of mountains, lakes, and forests is a true natural wonder. And, as such, it attracts people from all over the world. It has an excellent quality of life and it offers excellent facilities for young people who want to study and work in the country. In other words, this is quite a welcoming destination.

If you like mountain sports this is the country you are looking for. You will be impressed by all the fascinating places to see in Canada. As with Australia and New Zealand, you can also work here. You can do it while you take vocational Co-Op courses, or while studying at a university. Check out our options!

Gap Year in Ireland

Ireland

For our fourth option, it’s time to cross another Ocean to a magical land. Ireland, the place of shamrocks, Celtic mythology, great music, and, of course, Guinness beer! Although you may know the Emerald Island for these things, the truth is, it is so much more. For example, did you know that it is one of the most eco-friendly countries in the world? That’s right! During your gap year here you’ll breathe nothing but clean air. Quite a change of pace, isn’t it?

Here you can also work while you study both vocational and university courses. You just need to get the right visa. If you wonder what you can do here, just check out our articles about its many attractions and cities! We guarantee there’s something to satisfy your interests. Also, check out what we have to offer here!

Gap Year in Spain

what to do in Barcelona

Ok, but what if you want to visit a place that challenges you linguistically? After all, we talked a lot in this article about how another language is a must during a Gap Year. So, how about spending some time in Spain? With its cosmopolitan cities, old traditions, and archaeological wonders, it easily captures the eyes of travelers.

You can work while you study with a proper visa. And there’s plenty to study here. Starting, of course, with languages, you can also opt for full vocational or university courses. Depending on the city you choose, you’ll have access to many attractions. You can even visit other countries like Andorra, a gem where time doesn’t seem to pass! So, check out our experiences, you won’t regret it!

Gap Year in Malta

Malta

Now, if it is exoticism you’re after for your Gap Year, then this Mediterranean jewel is for you. This is a place with such rich history you’ll never run out of landmarks to visit. From prehistoric ruins to Roman remains and 18th-century wonders, Malta is such an otherworldly island. True, it is not a very big place. In fact, you can go from one side to the other in just a day, but that only adds to its charm!

And, it offers great work and study opportunities. Did you know, for example, that one of the oldest universities in the world is here? Additionally, it has a light, youthful environment that contrasts perfectly with its millennial ambiance. Still not convinced? Have a look at the information on the cities and attractions we have in our articles. Check out the complete experiences we have here!

Gap Year with GrowPro

Go to Belfast with GrowPro

Taking a gap year is a spectacular idea in many ways, and the best advice we can give you is this. Enjoy, but keep your head in place. Take advantage of your time and squeeze it out, don’t waste a minute because it’s a minute that will never come back. We hope that this post has served you as motivation and has charged your batteries if you were in that moment of doubt and indecision.

And, if you’ve decided this is what you want to do but are still lost on the details, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. If you travel with us, our Student Advisors can help you decide and make the best plans for you. Then, a Support Agent will see you through every step of the process. So, you will not have to worry about paperwork, just about having the time of your life! Don’t hesitate! The best time for a gap year is always now!

About the author

Charlotte Koks

Hey there! My name is Charlotte, and I'm working as an International Project Manager at GrowPro Experience. My goal is to help students all around the world to live the experiences of a lifetime 🙌🏽. I'm trying to inspire students by means of telling the story of former growers, showing what we are doing at each destination and writing about our cities and tips on our blogs. I got a big passion for adventures, doing sports in the park, learning new languages and seeing new places 🌏. That's one of the reasons why I studied European Studies and why I currently work for GrowPro, to expand my horizons. Hopefully, I can inspire you to do the same!