When is the best time to travel? Is it when you’re financially stable and have a job? Is it once you’re retired? No. It’s when you’re young. You don’t have children yet and don’t follow order from a boss. You’re fresh out of high school and you don’t know much about world. How about exploring that world, instead of directly going back into school? That’s what a gap year is, and it’s amazing.
I have never met any gap year student who regretted taking their gap year. They all had an amazing time and learnt more things about life than in all their years at school. So why don’t more people do it. Well, we’ve all heard the same excuses. ‘It’s too expensive’ ‘My parents won’t let me’ ‘They say I won’t want to go back to studying after the gap year’ ‘I don’t want to lose time’. And here I am taking a second year off before university! What people don’t understand is that there is no rush in starting to work. You could end up spending a large part of your life working a job you don’t enjoy (unless you get your act together and learn a bit about managing money), so why are you rushing into it?
You get to be interesting
Even if suddenly the whole population decided to take a gap year after high school, everyone’s gap year would be still different. You get to look inside yourself for a second and think, ‘what would I like to do for a year?’ Then you make a plan and try and make it work. Whether it’s traveling, teaching, meeting new people, there are thousands of ways of making most of your year off. You just need to do your research.
Not sure what to study? Now’s your chance to experiment.
For most of us, none of the subjects we study at school really appeal to us. Instead of forcing yourself to go down a path you will probably end up hating, try new things. Maybe you like teaching English in Thailand, or being a hiking instructor or you love animals so much want to work in a zoo. A gap year is a time when you can try all that, allowing you to reflect on what you really want to study or do in life.
Learn about the real world
As I keep on saying, school does not teach us what the real world is like. Students have no idea how to deal with society life unless their parents teach them, which is actually quite a lot of responsibility. If you want to learn about the real world without going broke and ending up dead in a ditch, you can start slowly with a gap year. Whether it’s au pairing, work-study programs or internships, you can find ways to learn about the world in safety. And the real world is amazing, so interesting, so authentic. Some adults spend years cherishing those years in school, which sadly means they really haven’t discovered the beauties of the real world. Never again would I go back to high school, it did mean less responsibilities, but also less freedom, less confidence and more ignorance.
Of course, in the end a gap year is up to you. But in order to try something new and have experiences you never thought were possible, try a gap year. Trust me, you will never regret it.