Taking a gap year is a big decision. It’s something that seems simultaneously the longest year of your life, and the shortest. There is so much to do, and so little time.
Because of a lot of different reasons I decided to defer from university until next year and take a second gap year to get a lot of things sorted out. Since I have experience in taking a gap year, and now another one, I thought that I would share with you some advice if you are planning on taking the gap.
1. What To Do With The Year:
Okay so my dad goes on about this all the time but I know he’s right, but you have to make some plans. Don’t spend the first month going “I really want to travel and get a job” but then never get there – so remember to plan ahead and make sure you have the money and the means to do what you want to do. I spent the first seven months of last year working to earn enough money to travel comfortably and then still got jobs when I was overseas. Make a plan, and set out some goals of what you want to achieve and roughly when you want to achieve them. I’ve made you a simple free printable Year Planner which you can use to plan your year (gap or otherwise) – find it here: Gap Year Planner – The Girl Who Had Wanderlust.
2. To Travel or Not To Travel:
Whatever you do don’t waste the whole year working in the same town that you’ve grown up in your whole life. Yes, work for a bit, but then travel – go anywhere, even if it’s a town only a few hours away. The world is such a big place, there’s something like 195 countries in the world, and in every single one of those countries there are hundreds of cities and towns and villages that are full of people who you haven’t seen yet, who live lives you haven’t experienced before and speak languages you’ve never even heard about. Travel is never a bad idea. If you’re scared of travelling alone, convince friends to come with you, or even look at doing a organised tour so that don’t feel lost.
3. If You Parents Are Against It:
If your parents don’t like the idea of you taking a gap year but you really want to, sit down with them and discuss why you feel that a gap year would benefit you. Do your research beforehand and know how much what you want to do is going to cost and whether it will be feasible. If you want to get a job, write up a CV and look for job offers. Make sure that you sit down across from your parents with something to offer and make sure that your views are heard. If they still don’t agree with you, maybe suggest that you study for a year, then take a year off – or take a gap year after your studies. Sometimes compromise is the answer, but make sure not to compromise so much that you end up doing something that you didn’t want to do.
4. If You Feel That You’re Too Young
If you’re just coming out of high school you might have only recently turned 18 – I finished school in December after only turning 18 in October – which is quite young to go to university, live by yourself and have the motivation to go to classes that no one is going to force you to go to. Now I hear you saying “if you’re too young for university, how are you not too young to travel”. The thing is that taking a gap year helps you grow up and understand the real world without impacting on your studies – if you work you learn about handling your money and if you travel you learn to see things in a different way, and these things help you mature in a way that will benefit you when you go into your studies the next year.
5. If You Don’t Really Know What You Want To Do:
If you’re not sure what you want to study, taking a gap year is the best time to research all of your options. Maybe you’re stuck between two possible career paths: your year off gives you the time to properly learn which of these paths is the best one for you. If at all possible find internships or work placements in the job sectors that you are looking at – it shouldn’t be about how much money you will get from it (if any), but rather how much information you can walk away with. When I was in the UK I did a work placement at a PR company, which gave me a lot of insight into things like working in an office environment (whether that would work for me long term or not), answering emails professionally, using a phone with an office extension, taking part in meetings and brainstorming sessions and helping out at events. I feel that the skills that I learnt there are invaluable and though I was only there for 3 weeks and the only money I received was to cover my transport I would do it again. Learning what a job is really like is so important because once you’ve studied, obtained a degree and found a job, it’s a little too late to realise it’s not the one for you.
Again, if you missed it, here’s the link to me free printable year planner which might help you to figure out how your gap year would pan out, or just your normal year – Gap Year Planner – The Girl Who Had Wanderlust !
So that is some general advice from me regarding gap years in general – if you have any more questions or stories about your own experiences, feel free to leave them in the comments, drop me an email or even tweet them to me @Francesca_Sleet – I would love to hear from you!