Written by The Leap on 01 / 09 / 2015
Gap Year Advice
‘Do I take a gap year or do I go straight to university?’ is a question that many school leavers ask themselves, and it can prove to be a bit of a dilemma, especially when there are concerns about forgetting everything you learned at school. If this is the case for you, or if you simply need a way to justify taking a year out to your parents, then the solution couldn't be more simple: carry on learning.
And no, I don’t mean in the classroom, but out in the big wide world, where you can discover all sorts of things about the subject you want to study. Below I’ve listed five gap year ideas that will enhance different degrees, so all you need to do is find the right one for you.
A travel blog is not only a great way for you to remember all the weird and wonderful things that take place on your gap year, but it’s also the perfect medium for sharing those things with the rest of the world.
By illustrating your writing skills on a personal blog and showing them off to others, you will gain credibility as well as have the chance to practice being a journalist before starting your degree. Focus on well-crafted, insightful travel journalism with a niche angle, such as off-the-beaten-path travel or tales of a solo female voyager – this will make you stand out from the crowd.
I kept a travel blog of my time in Argentina and other parts of South America, whereby I wrote short stories based on my most interesting travel experiences, with a few photos and videos added in. Popular options for blogging are WordPress and Blogspot, both which are great for beginners, as they’re easy to navigate and it takes no time to get to grips with the basics.
Volunteering abroad is the perfect way to combine travel with worthwhile projects, such as marine conservation. By volunteering in another country, you get to spend more than just a couple of weeks there and fully immerse yourself in the culture, whilst getting to know the locals and exploring your surroundings.
Universities approve of volunteer work, as it also demonstrates you’ve got courage, determination and a sense of adventure, as well as commitment and compassion. The Leap offers a particularly good placement programme in Costa Rica, whereby you’d learn to scuba dive, study animal populations and live among some of the world's most diverse plant life and wild animals. Or head to our fabulous marine conservation programme in Kenya - Kenya programme
Some fields of work don’t really fit in with volunteering options, such as medicine, law and business, so if you’re thinking of doing a degree in one of those areas, you might want to consider an internship. There are numerous reasons to intern abroad, one being that it will increase your chances of getting a place at the university of your choice – just remember to focus on the skills you’ll gain and make them relevant to your degree.
By doing work experience in your chosen field, you will get a taster of what’s to come and can then decide whether or not it’s something you want to pursue. Bear in mind though that internships aren’t necessarily easy to come by, which is why going through a gap year company such as The Leap may be favourable. Check out our gap year opportunities in Tanzania for several internships in care, business, law and teaching.
If you’re looking to do a degree in a foreign language, whether you studied it at school or are starting from scratch, getting a bit of practice in beforehand won’t do you any harm. You can either do a language course, find a job in a country that will enable you to speak that language, or just travel and learn as you go; I spent a few months in Paris, where I was working as an au pair, and managed to combine all three.
There are several different au pair agencies that provide au pair work in Europe and across the globe, many of which include language lessons. Once you’ve become confident enough in your language-speaking abilities, get out there and practice as much as you can by talking to the locals, without being afraid of making mistakes- we’re all human remember.
Any budding geography students should take advantage of this opportunity and see as much of the world as they can. Your gap year is actually fifteen months, which is plenty of time to earn money and visit several different countries, so be sure to use it wisely.
There are many beautiful and fascinating destinations where you can explore real-life geography outside of the classroom, such as Iceland, which is perfect for those studying geothermal activity, and Naples, where you can witness first-hand the devastation caused by a volcanic eruption. If you’re looking to travel round an entire continent, I would suggest picking Central and South America as it’s absolute paradise for geographers.
Alternatively, you can get a gap year job that matches your degree, another way to ensure your time spent abroad is worthwhile. Tailor your gap year job to your degree, and your CV could be boosted by valuable work experience and transferrable skills in no time.
If you can think of any further ways to make your gap year relevant to your degree then we’d love to hear them.
on 01 / 09 / 2015