Our life journeys are all unique to us.
And a gap year can be an important part of the journey at almost any point in our lives. These are times in our lives where we learn and grow as citizens of the world, connecting deeper with locals, cultures, and languages we don't experience every day.
Curious to learn more? Check out the power of taking a gap year.
What’s a gap year?
A gap year is usually a year-long break before or after a student enters college or studies at university. Also known as a sabbatical year, during this time the student usually maintains some form of regular work or travels.
But who’s to say that you can’t take a gap year during other major life shifts or changes? Maybe before you start a new job, before you officially retire, or before a big move.
Where can you take a gap year?
Gap years happen all over the world! If you are looking for a specific program that helps with travel and accommodation or volunteer work, then those programs will travel to certain places.
However, if taking a gap year is important to you, then technically, there are no rules for where, when, how you decide to take one. Everyone lives a different life!
Why is taking a gap year beneficial?
Taking a gap year can be incredibly beneficial because when using gap year programs, these are often educational experiences for young people to broaden their horizons.
For instance, the program THINK Global School is a traveling high school that brings students to live on four continents over the course of a year. This program is home of the Changemaker Curriculum which “puts you in charge of your own learning through a combination of real-world exploration, skills mastery, and project-based learning.”
Otherwise, taking a gap year as a simple break is another great way to learn about the world, experience new cultures, and try new things.
What are a few gap year programs?
We’ve scoured the world wide web to discover which gap year programs exist, where they go, and what they do. Here is what we found:
THINK Global School wants the student to be the architect of their learning through the Changemaker Curriculum.
This program utilizes progressive educational concepts like project and place-based learning. During each year-long program, students live and learn in four new countries.
Examples include Botswana, India, Japan, and Spain or Bosnia/Herzegovina, Australia, Chile, and Italy.
Seamester Sea Voyages offers sea voyages for students in college or university, ranging from 20 to 90 days.
Spend an entire semester at sea and have a new kind of educational experience. Seamester creates endless teachable moments, which “provide engaging learning experiences that involve the whole person and have real outcomes in ways that are impossible to replicate in a traditional classroom.”
Examples of these teachable moments include learning about the oceanographic processes and trade winds, learning about the ocean’s animals, and learning tons more about the world around us.
A few example trips include South Africa to the Caribbean, the Virgin Islands to Grenada, and Thailand to Bali.
If living, sailing, and learning on a boat for months out of the year doesn’t excite you enough, check out the company’s ultimate goal, “to challenge students to realize that, in many ways, it is the journey that matters most, not the destination.”
EF Gap Year offers both semester-long or year-long programs to students. EF hosts all kinds of trips and now offers gap year programs, meant to transform you into a “true global citizen."
According to the EF site, gap year students typically outperform traditional students. Travel abroad to learn a new language, experience a new culture, give back and volunteer your time, and grow as an adult.
In addition, many top tier schools are encouraging accepted students to defer enrollment in pursuit of a gap year.
EF’s Gap Year program can take you truly anywhere, you choose the destination for these portions: Language Study, Service Learning, and Internship.
Every EF Gap Year starts with an orientation and a two-week European Immersion. There’s also a three week Australia & New Zealand Immersion after winter break.
You’ll gain crucial skills in language and culture immersion, leadership development, and community service, to name a few.
Thinking Beyond Borders says your gap year should be “the experience of a lifetime, shaping your future with passion and purpose.”
That being said, we think these trips will do just that - spend 13 weeks or 7 months in different countries. The program features eye-opening and educational experiences for students and incorporates field-based learning, which places students alongside local experts as they work to improve their own communities.
Andrew Kim, who has taken a Gap Year through Thinking Beyond Borders gave his take on it, “I feel that it humbled me about how little I knew about the world and assumptions that I had made that didn’t end up being true. I think having a critical eye has been one of the most important things I learned.”
United Planet is a mission-focused, non-profit organization that emphasizes authenticity.
According to United Planet, these students will “immerse yourself in a world outside your own experience, gain a new appreciation for the world around you, discover the richness of giving back and helping others, learn how to live outside your comfort zone, and appreciate the value of hard work, empathy, and kindness.”
Go Overseas is an excellent resource for finding a work abroad program. Similar to a job board site, this site posts positions and other programs that can be utilized as gap year programs.
These programs vary but are generally geared more towards after college and adults looking into professional positions as well. A few examples include Au Pair Cultural Exchanges or programs in China and Italy, sales management positions, work and travel in New Zealand, and many more.
The Go Overeseas mission is to empower human connection through perspective-changing travel.
Now that you know all about gap years and what they entail, what do you think? Does it interest you? Did we miss anything? Leave us a comment below!