Should you take a year off from your studies and go travel the world?
It’s definitely a trend to do that lately. Whether it’s between highschool and university, a year during university, or a year after graduation and before starting a job or grad school, people these days are deciding that it’s worth it to put school on hold for a little while and go experience the world at large. So is it?
A common theme of gap years can be volunteering or working – so whether it’s working as an au-pair in Europe, teaching English in Asia, or volunteering in a humanitarian camp in Africa, gappers can travel the world and also do some good in it.
Obviously another advantage of a gap year involves learning about another culture, quite possibly learning a new language, and broadening horizons in general. When school gets overwhelming and burnout seems inevitable, taking some time away from the whole situation can restore perspective and balance.
Besides meeting new people and seeing new places, a gap year can be a good time to test out career plans/interests. For example, if you’re planning to go into education but first choose to work a year as an English-language teacher in Japan and find you absolutely don’t enjoy teaching children, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and pain by finding this out while being paid and living in beautiful Japan, rather than later when you have finished the degree and are possibly owing another $20,000 on student loans and being forced into a Grade 4 classroom to pay it off!
These are some of the advantages of a gap year that are pretty obvious. Rarely in life, especially after the career gets going and families get started, is a person able to leave it all behind and take such a long-term time for themselves. It may well be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do some carefree traveling, some self-discovering, and some world-experiencing.
On the other hand, a gap year may be pretty costly, especially if you find yourself needing to pay back student loans during the time off! There’s always the risk, too, that stepping away from school even for a year could cause a person to lose momentum and never get around to returning and completing that valuable education.
Remember – a gap year can be anything from traveling, working, or volunteering, to just bumming around your parent’s basement for a year while you collect yourself. School can be overwhelming, and if the choice is between burning out for good and finding some perspective, gapping of this sort may well be worth it.
There are plenty of websites out there if you are interested in finding out more about taking a gap year – visit gap-year.com or gapyearabroad.ca or even wikipedia.org/wiki/gap_year to look into this some more!