Unlike in the United States, graduating high school students in the U.K. are encouraged to take a year off before attending university. In British culture, this is commonly referred to as the ‘Gap Year’, and is a highly regarded and celebrated practice.
Imagine you’re coming home from school and thinking about your first day at university. You’re going to sit in your parents apartment wearing your new university gown (delighted!), and watch streams of teens slumbering in their backpacks in the living room. You might not feel like studying (that’s for sure), but you certainly think like a student. So you do what lots of students do, you go out with your friends to eat, to have a few drinks, and to have some fun. You tell yourself you’ll feel older than your parents when you return to the college campus, which, conveniently, is located a bit away from your home. You haven’t quite realized that Gap Year Europe is going to happen while you’re still at the same university, so time is on the side of a much more mature and balanced student.
Gap Years Still Exist…
At the end of the year, gap years really do exist for the most part. Most universities encourage students to take a year off before enrolling in university, and some institutions encourage students to take a year off before starting university, so that the students can go on holidays and either travel or relax in exotic locations. A few universities in the U.S. have adopted the trend and do a roaring, growing business of supporting their students who have taken a year off and graduated someone else, many of them women. TheTime magazine has even gone on to name one the best universities in America as well as the worst, listing the top 10 liberal arts colleges in America along with their ‘green’ counterparties.
This type of break provides one with enough time to get ready for the real world. It’s a time to regroup, to network, and to help achieve career goals. Unfortunately, those with the best intentions often leave gracefully, settling at colleges that lack the life experience and resources necessary to offer a full gap year.
There is no reason to leave before you’ve paid your dues! The gap year is a valuable asset, both for students who will one day be benefitting from the lack of school and work experience acquired through no fault of their own, and for those who return home to teach English.
To show some appreciation and appreciation, here are some things you should ask for when planning your gap year in the U.K.
Don’t forget to mark your calendar properly, especially if you’re planning a trip away from home. By booking your gap year trips when the new pleased with you, you’re setting yourself up to succeed when you arrive home, and therefore you will have a good chance of settling right in!
Make sure you budget properly for your flights, especially when considering your potential destinations. Remember that airfare can be three to six times more expensive over the lean months, so you should budget for a combination of transportation and airfare costs. It’s particularly important to budget for the extra costs that a gap year gap will bring, such as living costs, travel insurance, accommodation, food costs, and extended family. By planning properly, you will have a comfortable base to live and establish yourself at work, rather than constantly having to look for another job.
Think about your friends and family. Most of your close friends will understand what it means to save significantly time by going abroad, and they will likely understand the practicality of planning a gap year trip. Your grandparents will understand it, your parents will probably be impressed and jealous, and your friends who haven’t set aside any time for a gap year might even consider it greedy! Therefore, it’s important to ask them how they would feel if you planned a gap year traveling the same as they did. Do they think you would be straight out of high school, or that you would be more like a senior who had missed all the opportunities the great recession had to offer? This way you will know before you begin your gap year what you most likely will be doing. As a wise traveler once said, the best travel is not the sort that involves a comfortable bed!
Finally, learn to do a little bit of research. Find out from a travel agent what school, province, or country you would like to travel to. or perhaps ask a friend to conduct a little research on their country of choice. You might be surprised to learn that there are many similar countries, and the internet is a wonderful place to both learn about and browse the many different countries. All this will help you better decide where you want to go, and also which places you require more information before booking your trip.