10 Reasons Why You Should Take A Gap Year Abroad
Before we go into the discussion of 'Why' a gap year is necessary and scrutinize its diverse impacts on one's life, let's first understand what exactly is a Gap Year. Although not a new concept, taking a gap year has been quite common among European and Australian students, and the Americans quickly started following the same path.
For students and young professionals in other parts of the world, the thought of taking a break isn't something very natural. It's very usual for a high school student to move to the university for higher studies, or for someone who has just graduated, it's normal to start seeking a job.
But often, we don't realize the necessity to pause for a while, to assess ourselves and to understand which all qualities we need to imbibe in ourselves to be better at what we wish to do. For that, a gap year experience becomes an eye-opener.
Gap year essentially means a sabbatical for a year (or maybe a few months) during which one can learn about things beyond the course books, travel to places and meet people from different walks of life, find out something that he/she is passionate about and also get involved in some kind of work to earn a first-hand experience.
Research has shown that millennials (between the age of 18 to 25 years) who took a break in between their studies or just before starting off with a job, have much more confidence in themselves and their success rate is much higher than those who didn't.
Hence, if you are still in school or college, and wondering how a gap year abroad might benefit you, then the following reasons will surely help you to sort your confusion.
1. It's a chance for you to learn about the world
Once you'll step out to see the wider world, you'll start learning more about it. You'll be surprised at times to know that your school textbooks missed out so many things and neither did your teachers tell you about the tastes of the cuisines that keep varying from place to place. Travel across cities, meet people, stay with a host family who doesn't speak your language, share their meals, play with their kids, take the local transport, eat at a roadside shack, join the crowd and then find your own peaceful corner. You'll only learn about certain things by experiencing them.
2. And it'll help you to understand more about yourself
You can't live an entire life depending on how others want you to perform. A gap year will help you to emerge as a self-actualized adult. Perhaps till now, you have always obediently followed whatever your parents and elders have told you to do. But this is your chance to explore what you like. It's an opportunity to walk on your chosen path and make the most out of it. You might be taking wrong decisions during this phase, but they won't go for a waste. Everything will teach you some lesson or the other and that, my friend, will stay with you for the rest of your life.
3. Push yourself out of the comfort zone
Know that you are never too young to take a bold decision. Taking a gap year will surely be a step out of your known world, and there will be several challenges all along. But those hurdles will help you to act quickly and think faster. Before setting out, make a list of things that make you uncomfortable and ensure to break the ice by trying them at least for once. Take that salsa class which you always postponed. Talk to strangers. Go for an adventure sport. Spend some time alone and talk to yourself. Being uncomfortable to do something doesn't mean that you aren't capable of doing it. You just need to push yourself a little more.
4. Learn a foreign language from the natives of the region
Imagine how wonderful it would be to learn French while being in Paris, or Mandarin while traveling across Beijing! Surely, your city has a language school to offer you the best beginners as well as advanced courses, but those courses will never impart the authentic charm. If you've always wanted to learn a foreign language, then this is the best opportunity - travel to the land where it's spoken and spend adequate time with the locals, to learn it. Who knows, you might just master it in a few months and then use it as brownie points in your Resume.
5. Make some money and gain some experience
That's one of the best things - you can earn a few bucks during your gap year, and then spend it on things you love! There are several opportunities to work for students while traveling abroad. You can work at a cafe, help at a garage, be an English teacher or work at an animal farm. While these won't be paying huge, but it would be sufficient for you to keep traveling. You'll be learning new things each day. Moreover, you'll get to interact with more people, and you'll have an experience of work to show your future employer.
6. You'll get to discover your hidden passion
During this time, when you'll be all by yourself, there's a good chance of discovering your hidden passion. While cooking your daily meals, you might just realize that you love doing it. And then, start fiddling YouTube to find new recipes and call over your new friends for dinner! Sounds exciting, doesn't it? You can also surprise your family once you return home. The best thing would be to learn how to cook the local dishes from your hosts. Some people also discover their passion for photography, while capturing the little things that catch their attention. Many others fell in love with music, dancing, painting, and other things as well, and kept pursuing that later on.
7. Make friends with people from different parts of the world
If you've been an introvert, and never thought of making friends out of strangers, then this is your chance. During a gap year, you'll not just get to meet people from that particular country, but you'll also come across folks from other parts of the world, who are there either to work, or to study, or taking a break just like you! Interact with them, know more about their land, their culture and lifestyle, tell them about yours. This will further broaden your outlook and help you to be a better global citizen.
8. Be a part of a volunteering project and make a difference
Your gap year abroad will become an even more meaningful journey if you decide to give something back to the society while traveling. Millennials are getting more and more involved in volunteering projects that aim to uplift the underprivileged ones by making some effective difference to their lives. There are a lot of problems in this world like inequality, hunger, poverty, and pollution, and you can actually play your part to fix it. For example, being a volunteer at an orphanage in Tanzania will not only make you feel the love for those little ones, but it'll also add immense happiness to their lives. No matter how little your contribution is, know that it'll matter for someone, and its impact will be appreciated.
9. It'll help you to boost your career prospects
No matter whether what you'll do in the years ahead, your gap year experiences will enhance your job prospects in several ways. Your experiences will be counted while taking admission at the university as well as while applying for a job. You'll have better leadership skills than your peers. You'll be more confident about yourself and your abilities to perform at challenging situations. You'll be a better team player and as mentioned earlier, knowing foreign languages and having first-hand work experience will act for your preference.
10. Lastly, it'll be an opportunity to enjoy life and have fun
Yes, because you deserve it! You've studied hard to pass those exams, you've worked hard on your science projects, and you've had a good academic report throughout your school days. Don't you think you deserve to have some fun now?
Taking a break and traveling solo can be the best option to enjoy life and experience the madness that this world has to offer.
Go for scuba diving in Thailand, or visit the Taj Mahal in India.
Learn to cook paella in Spain, or go for a wildlife safari in Tanzania.
Volunteer for Turtle Conservation in Costa Rica or hike up the Rainbow Mountains in Peru - make the most of this break, and keep ticking them off your bucket list.
And now that you know the importance of a gap year and the reasons why you should also take one, start planning for your Gap Year Trip For 2018 right away!
Rest assured, you'll return back home as a more matured and independent person and it’ll undoubtedly be a life changing experience for you. Bon voyage!