In order to establish whether taking a gap year is a good decision to make, we have compiled a list of three accounts from people who have actually taken the year out. We examine the circumstances which brought them to make this decision, how it affected them as a person and most of all how they benefitted from the time spent away. The structure for each will identify the motive, then the idea and finally experience.
Motive: Following Chloe’s A-Level exams, Chloe decided that a rest from education was very much needed following intensive studying, as she wasn’t ready to move out and start tackling life alone.
Idea: A gap year sounded like the perfect solution and was tailored to travel via Kenya working for The Leap. The trip included teaching and also helping to actually build a classroom.
Experience: Chloe’s account of how it was to support a cause in Africa was described as feeling safe while having fun, as she was being looked after by a company. Meeting people, making lifelong friends, and learning more about yourself as a person not to mention the sheer reward for helping a charity - were amongst the top personal returns enjoyed from the experiences.
Motive: Evangelina said she was stuck between medicine and nutrition when considering a career path to follow, volunteering and taking a gap year would help solidify some much needed grounded and realistic experience.
Idea: A drive to want to help rehabilitate children and educate their caregivers to avoid repercussions of malnutrition in Nepal. Gaining work experience for her resume while helping children in desperate need of medical attention through a company named Projects Abroad.
Experience: Since arriving back home from Nepal, Evangelina has not spent one day without thinking about the host family she lived and spent Christmas with, the bond she made with two children named Sandip and Sandesh, the personal independence gained, and of course wildly different cultural experiences she had been used to living in the UK.
Motive: Julie often heard that with children’s help projects, for which the demand is so great for support that one person alone cannot change the way things are. Julie wanted to prove that one person can make a difference.
Idea: The idea was to see another country and the surrounding culture not just as a sightseer, but to also blend in with the local people in Cambodia, working with children who need help. She sought experience for herself and to establish the impact that one person can actually make towards a just cause.
Experience: A typical day saw Julie cycling to the orphanage to help teach two English classes, then cycling further to collect noodles and coffee before continuing to also teach a group of Monks. The experiences Julie took away with her were mainly the benefits of a newly found relationship built with her now close friends in the community. Of course the time she spent with the children is priceless and the difference she made in educating the young and old will stay with her forever.
Based on these three experiences, we can safely say that choosing to enter into a gap year is a worthwhile life changing experience. A famous quote says “life is a novel, without travel we cannot turn the pages” and as a result when including travel into your life, especially for time out of our normal routine; new foods, culture, languages, landscapes, animals, climate and most of all friends, are just some of the commonly found pleasures we can enjoy when taking time out - or a gap year - to volunteer, work or travel.