For me, doing a gap year was something I had always wanted to do since I realised that they were a ‘thing’, but I know that it can be a tricky decision for those of you sitting on the fence.
There are many different ways you can spend your gap year – volunteer work, ski season, travel… to say a few. I am doing a mix of volunteer work and travel and so have compiled several pros and cons of doing a gap year from my perspective.
For those of you who have always wanted to travel the world this is your perfect opportunity. A gap year gives you the time to earn your money and explore. I think that one of the best things about travelling for me is the person I become when I am travelling. I find that I am so much more open to push my boundaries and step outside my comfort zone. I am more willing to chat to local people and learn about their lives and opinions.
A year to do whatever you want… what could give you more freedom? Freedom is not for everyone, some people thrive on a strict schedule and some thrive on a more relaxed way of living. I have found that this year has given me the time to do exactly what I want and try the things I have always wanted, but haven’t had to chance, to do. I have started a youtube channel, a blog, have had time to read more books, teach myself embroidery, and even learn a few songs on the guitar!
↬Earning Money / Fundraising
I honestly cannot stress how valuable the ability to earn money for yourself and fundraise is. To get to where I am I had to fundraise £6200 for my project and earn over £1500 for travel. I found that no matter what I was doing, it was when I put effort in that I saw the results. Working to raise this amount of money has given me so much more confidence in taking to people, achieve seemingly impossible goals and has also allowed me to see the generosity in my own friends, family and even strangers.
Put yourself in this situation:
You are standing in a classroom of thirty five-year-olds running around, piling themselves on top of you, shouting things at you in a different language, stroking (well pulling) your hair and just being overall mental. Then you realise that actually you are their teacher, and they are expecting you to start handing them out sheets of paper and crayons, but you don’t know how to say either paper… or crayon… in their language. The noise is getting louder and the kids crazier. You are just waiting for the moment to wake up from this humiliating and crazy dream.
That is how I felt the first time I was put in front of a classroom to teach art here.
Now, I cannot say how far I have come. I have been through so many situations this year which every time seem less and less difficult. What was once deemed as impossible, or crazy, is now part of my routine.
I cook for myself, I clean my house, I am the one to keep an eye on the amount of loo roll left, I am the one who has ensure that I have clean underwear… This was all brand new to me 9 months ago and now it is second nature.
I think that I have learnt above all that nothing happens unless you make it happen, everything is in your hands.
↬Away from Study ✎
Now I have decided to put this as a con, but really is can be a pro too. A year out does mean that your ability to write 10 page essays in 2 hours shrivels up and your mental maths evaporates… but you also have the time to learn so much more about real life. I have had a year to learn Spanish from scratch without a single classroom involved. I have also had time to prepare myself for my specific university course and read several related books.
↬Loss of Contact w/ Friends and Family
To me this is the most con con of all the cons… yes my English teacher would not be proud with that grammar.
Keeping in touch with loved ones when your wifi is super dodgy and both you and them are busy busy busy is tough. Trust me. In order to keep my friendships strong I have really had to put an effort in, which is right, but it means that my friendship circle has decreased to only those I really care about. I guess this is the harsh truth, but it can hurt when you realise that people are slipping away.
All I have to say is that if you put the effort in, and live through the blurry skype calls, then you will keep your bestest friends close.
Ew, everyone hates money chat, so lets keep this brief. Yes travelling costs, yes gap years can be expensive… its up to you if you if working your ass off with late night shifts during exams is worth the white sandy beaches, insane instas, and bikini tan lines (its clear what my opinion is).
This is something a little more specific to my project here in the Dominican Republic. My partner in crime (Izzy) and I have found that sometimes it can be tough living and working for such a long period in a community so different from home. Views on dancing, alcohol, music, clothing, piercings, etc are all so different. We have found that in order to be accepted by the community we have to hide certain sides of ourselves. For example, dancing in our village is seen as a very non-Christian act, therefore in order to be respected in the community we are not allowed to dance. This can be restricting at times and we have to be careful about our image while being here.
I have also made a Youtube video about this on my channel if you are interested.
I do hope that this helps, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask! I am going to be making a series of gap year related posts so if you have any questions you want answered please ask away and I will cover them.