THE UNCONVENTIONAL GAP YEAR
‘The most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want in the hope that you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later’
I have so desperately wanted to take a gap year since I was younger or even a sabbatical when I was a little older but from where my day to day life was positioned to the possibility of going travelling for a whole year seemed just too big a gap to bridge. I didn’t want just one new experience, I wanted a plethora of new experiences, I wanted to see things which would blow my mind, to learn about new cultures, have unplanned adventures and an open schedule… I wanted to experience the whole wide world.
Whilst friend after friend shed their jumpers and scarves to board planes, I waved, smiled and wished them all amazing trips. Saying goodbye to their pale faces and a year on, welcoming back more grounded friends with great stories and matching tans. I too wanted to experienced it all with them, I too wanted to forget what puddles look like.
It’s the overall consensus of ex-gappers that the gap year is good for you. It allows for a time of personal development and a chance for you to gather perspective on what’s important to you back home. It can help you make important decisions or give you a well-deserved break to experience new cultures, meet new people and gain some skills.
When I turned 27, I decided that I wanted to rewrite my story and remedy my lack of gap year. Maybe one day I’ll be in a position to take a whole year out and head of round the globe but with my dogs, my work and all the other items waiting to be ticked off the life list, maybe not. Why take that risk? Why wait your whole life just to miss your chance? Why not just rearrange it, break it down and piece it back together as a de-constructed take on the more traditional gap year.
I started planning the first of 12 one month long trips. The first trip was to Thailand, somewhere I’d dreamed of visiting since the plane loads of friends departed many years ago. Travel is so often defined by your senses, the tastes, the sights, the smells, the sounds… Thailand fits the brief and was the perfect start to my Gap Year.
My first trip, like the others that have followed was not a ‘holiday’; it was about travel, experiential learning and culture. A time to feed the mind, awaken the senses and remedy the soul.
Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Iceland, Hong Kong, Egypt and Morocco. I am now eight months into my gap year, loving it and planning my next trip to the Caribbean! I have gained real-world experience, a chance to explore and through these things, a different perspective on life.
So how can we determine who is a good candidate for a gap year? There is no stereotypical gap year candidate and there is no stereotypical gap year so it is something everyone should consider, in whichever format fits your life.
Maybe you didn’t have the opportunity to do this when you were younger, maybe you wasted the opportunity were given or you had such amazing time that you simply want to do it all over again, this time with a less stringent budget?!
If you have a thirst for learning, an independent mind, a desire to challenge yourself and an adventurous spirit then rewrite your own story. Start planning your trip, take an unconventional approach, make it happen and enjoy the ride… It’ll make you a happier person and a better citizen of the world!