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Gap Years

A gap year is a chance to see and do things you would never normally experience before continuing your studies or finding a job.

It’s a chance to leave responsibilities behind while experiencing the world.

  • Gap years have become so popular that there are unlimited opportunities for things to do. You can travel with a group or by yourself, volunteer in Britain or another country, or get some valuable work experience or training
  • Gap years are generally taken after leaving school and before starting university or a job, but you can take a gap year at any time in your life. For more information see the Sabbaticals page [link to 3c8 Sabbaticals] of this site
  • If you are planning a gap year try to get as much information as you can about your options. As well as the internet, your local library may have books about gap years and travelling
  • It is a good idea to talk to other people who have already been away. They can give you first hand advice about what to do and where to go

Travel

  • There are many companies who run organised gap year trips around the world. Very often these gap year schemes are split into different sections, and you may take part in a voluntary project such as teaching or community work, followed by an expedition or independent travel
  • These schemes can be quite expensive, and you will probably have to do some fundraising work before you go away. However the benefit of these projects is having everything organised for you, as well as the chance to meet lots of new people
  • If you want to you can just take off by yourself. You will have to plan your trip very carefully if you travel independently. You will have to get the right visas for travel, make sure you have enough money for your whole trip (and extra in case of emergencies), work out who you want to travel to and where you want to go
  • Independent travel can be a great way of gaining confidence and discovering new things about yourself. Once you've looked after yourself in a foreign country where you don't know the language or customs, you'll probably feel ready for anything. It's also a great way of meeting people you might never have come across otherwise
  • If you are travelling in Europe, you may want to buy an Interrail pass which will give you unlimited train travel in certain countries
  • If you are going further afield, a round the world plane ticket might be a good option. You choose your destinations before you go, then as long as you stick to your departure back to the UK, you can travel as slowly or as quickly as you like

Work

  • You will probably want to get a job at home during part of your gap year to fund your studies abroad. This is a good idea as the more prepared you are financially, the less you'll have to worry about on your trip
  • As well as a casual job, you may want to get work experience of the career you want to go into. Some large companies run gap year placements for school leavers, especially in industries such as banking, engineering and IT
  • You can also work when you are abroad to fund your trip. You can work in the EU quite easily, and many people do casual jobs like being a fruit picker or a waiter for extra money
  • It is harder to get work visas in some countries. If you wanted to work in the United States for instance you would have to make sure you had a place to work organised before you went to sponsor your trip. However in Australia it is fairly easily to get a visa for casual work. Contact the embassy of the country you want to work in before hand to check the rules. For more information, visit the Work Visas and Permits section of the website
  • Work doesn't just mean getting paid, you may also want to do volunteer work. You could volunteer abroad, perhaps as a teacher, or do something closer to home, like working at a local care home. Volunteering is an immensely rewarding way of helping other people, and it can also be great fun. For more information, visit the Volunteering section

Study

  • Studying during your gap year is a good way of finding out what you want to study later, especially if you're unsure about what to study at University
  • You might want to take a foundation course, to find out which area of a subject would be of interest. Subjects where a foundation course are useful include art or medicine if you don’t have science-based A Levels
  • You could also take the opportunity to learn a completely new skill. You could learn a language, take your European Computer Driving license, or try a vocational course like plumbing. Your local further education college should have details on which courses are available
  • You could take a course abroad. If you're interested in art history for instance, you can go to Italy to study the actual paintings you are interested in, or if you want to look at ancient history, you could visit Roman and Greek sites in the Mediterranean

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