Gap Years are controversial decisions made by young adults who don’t know what they want to do for the rest of their lives yet. This is the idea most people get when they think of Gap Years or hear someone talk about taking a Gap Year. I somewhat agree and disagree with this statement, I agree that Gap Years can be used by individuals who haven’t decided what employment they want to venture into yet but I also believe Gap Years are so much more than that.
The first 15/16/17 years of a young person’s life are predominantly spent in education where they are constantly learning- what’s right and wrong, what life is meant to be, what they enjoy doing, their aspirations and dreams and most importantly they learn about themselves. Then suddenly out of nowhere that stability disappears-one day you have a daily structure, homework and revision then bam, the next day you are thrown into the real world with no daily structure, nothing you should be dong and no one to keep pushing you on like teachers do.
For many young adults this is a very daunting time, whether it’s after graduating high school, college or university the feeling is mostly the same. First of all there is an ‘I am free’ moment, the celebration of completing and achieving your goals, the realisation there is nothing you should be doing and the end of a chapter of your life.
Then comes the ‘ahhh what should I do next’ moment, the struggle to identify what job you would be happy doing for the rest of your life. Then there’s the actual applying to jobs, getting rejected from jobs, the panic, the unknown and having no idea what to do next. Let’s be real, at 16, 19 or even 21 the majority of people don’t know what they want to do for the next 50 years so they take university courses in subjects they enjoy instead of looking to the future and undertake jobs which they hate because they think they need to just get a job (so take the first company who hires them). Your 20s are/should be the years for you to have fun, make mistakes, have no commitments, do whatever you please, be happy, have fun, party too hard, spend too much and meet new people.
Thats where Gap Years come in, whether they are between college and university or after university or instead of university, it doesn’t matter. Gap Years are perfect times for young adults to do all the things they are supposed to whilst visiting a new country, meeting new people and even discovering themselves. Gap Years come in many forms, some people choose to have a stay at home Gap Year and get a temporary job or work experience just get out into the employment world, earn some money and gain experience, whilst others choose to travel. They travel to discover new places and to work whilst seeing new places- doing things such as snow ski seasons, summer seasons,being part of a yacht crew, ESL Teaching, cruise ship jobs or summer camp jobs. Any of these Gap Year ideas are great, I personally believe a travelling Gap Year is the best choice to take.
Travelling changes people, travelling lets you discover yourself, maybe a career path, opens your eyes to opportunities, lets you live maybe a little crazy sometimes and allows you to be who you want to be. You aren’t defined by your 15 or so years in education, in fact whilst travelling no one cares if you dropped out of school aged 15 or never went to college.
If you aren’t fully convinced yet here’s my story:I spent, like you, the majority of my first 16 years in education, I graduated High School then went onto college and straight onto university. I’m not saying I regret any of the choices I made, I equally learnt a lot, had a lot of fun and had some great experiences, but like many of you I graduated University with no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I enjoyed the business course I did and learnt a lot but it was so open that my choices were endless. I felt stuck, like what do I do next, where do I go from here, just what do I do. I have been a passionate water skier since the age of 11 and had qualified as a coach, which I used to work in a summer camp during my summers at university and straight after graduating, but I never thought of it as a career, it was a passion and something I just did for fun. At the moment when I was stuck thinking what to do next and just a bit lost in life, I received an email from a company who were looking for a water ski instructor in Greece. Then it hit me- that sounded like a fun job! I replied to the email and got the job, within 4 days I was on a plane to Greece and I have never looked back. Since that first job in Greece I have worked in a snow ski resort in France, worked in Greece again for 6 months and water skied in America for 9 months. All these different experiences have each had their challenges and ups and downs but they have all truly shaped me- I would never be where I am today if not for all the work and travel experiences I have had, the people I have met, things I have learnt and the knowledge I have gained. I am 100% not the person I graduated University as.
Travelling is inspiring, it allows you to see more, learn more, take risks, have fun and become a new version of you. I hate to say it but I believe I have learnt more travelling than throughout my education. I’m not saying drop out of school, I’m saying get an education to whatever level you wish then have fun. It’s super easy to follow society and work straight out of university (which is also fine) but if it’s a job which you aren’t willing to do for little or no money forget about it. Don’t waste your life being unhappy or miserable.
In this blog I have created some articles which will give you some Gap Year inspiration and help you on your Gap Year search; Beginners guide to gaining a job abroad, how to land your dream seasonnaire job, how to land your dream summer camp job, why everyone should travel and many more. Start your Gap Year by taking a tour from Life Before Work, click this link for your chance to win a tour and discount codes to start your adventure.