While it’s true that the world is getting smaller, and that it’s possible to learn a lot about other cultures without ever leaving your home country, there’s still a lot to be said for travelling and experiencing the rest of the world for yourself.
Gap years don’t have to be taken abroad, but by taking a gap year in Argentina, Australia or any other foreign country, travellers can get experience of foreign cultures, make new friends, and enjoy learning new skills whilst taking a holiday at the same time. Adventurous souls often like to go even further afield. For example, taking a sporting gap year, or heading overseas to do volunteer work, conservation work, or teaching.
For many students, especially those looking to get in to a prestigious university, a gap year is a valuable step towards building a strong CV. Gap years were once limited to the very rich, and to those who do not have a sense of direction in their lives, but today that has changed.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to go on a gap year. Many exotic countries may seem to be an expensive destination if traveling as a tourist on a conventional holiday, but if you make the trip a working one (and many gap years do involve some paid work), you can enjoy a comparatively low cost trip. If you are volunteering it may be a case that your board and lodging is covered which will make travel substantially cheaper.
Why Take a Gap Year?
Going to university is expensive, and if you go there straight after college, you may find that you burn out quite quickly. Spending your gap year in an interesting country such as Argentina gives you a chance to spend some time in the real world – to get away from text books, projects, and tests.
You can earn some money (which will come in handy – student loans don’t go very far!), and enjoy an extended holiday before you go back to your studies. You can also spend some time learning more about your chosen field – perhaps even gaining some entry level experience in the industry while you’re on your gap year.
If you choose a less career focused gap year – for example an extreme sports gap year in Australia or a year out where you do conservation work, or just go to a foreign country to soak up the culture and make new friends, then that’s still a valuable experience.
The one year that you spend not studying won’t set you back when it comes to pursuing your career, and can actually be beneficial when it comes to seeking employment. Interviewers don’t just care about your academic credentials – they want to know about you as a person.
Are you resourceful, reliable, and level headed? If you can honestly say that you survived a year backpacking across Australia, then that proves you are a capable and sensible person. That could be enough to set you apart from competitors who have never set foot outside of the campus town they studied in.
This article was written by Amy Fowler on behalf of Sport Lived, who offer sports focused gap years across the world.