Mind the Gap Year

We’ve all had thoughts of taking an education break. Of taking time out to reassess, relax, distance ourselves from exam deadlines and the stress of essay submissions. Could gap year be the solution to enjoy a clutter-free brain and a chance to live a carefree life even for a short space of time?
Let Kerry Harkin weave you through a world of travel where anything and everything can happen in 12 months.
Why Take a Gap Year? 
Self-survival the Bear Grylls way? Well, not necessarily but first and foremost, it’s a great way to get more used to living away from home, to become more independent and to learn to survive on your own.
You don’t need to be Bear Grylls but you can focus more on becoming who you were meant to be instead of having to worry about gaining an education.
Time is on your side so you have more time to learn the skills you need to live on your own, without your parents help, because they won’t be able to take care of you forever. (Mummmm! Is that true?)
Eventually, you need to ‘fly the nest’ as it were. And if you’re not actually sure what you want to do in the future, well you’ll have plenty of time to figure it out.
Some people also use the gap year to gain work experience for their future job or study prospects.
Most universities welcome this and are more likely to accept you application if you have experience in the subject you’re pursuing. Sadly, some universities can feel that within the gap year student lose the knowledge and skills they need to continue their education.
If you’re thinking about taking a gap year then make sure your chosen university will still accept you if you take one.
Even so, the experience you gain while on your gap year will put you in such a good position to get into most unis, and sometimes you can even apply for a job straight away.
The work experience you gain during your gap year can also help you develop any skills you already have.
You can enhance them so they will help you in the future, get you a better job or get you into a postgraduate course should you wish.
If you’re taking a languages course, for example, they sometimes prefer if you have spent some time in the country of the language you’re  studying.
Your gap year is a perfect time to go abroad and broaden your language skills. And you’ll find new skills as well, which is always a bonus.
It’s a great way to meet so many new and interesting people. You’ve been surrounded by the same people since you started your course and settled in.
A year out will give you a chance to meet all sorts of people.
And when you return, think of the stories you’ll have to tell. Imagine talking about something else other than that one time you drank so much you couldn’t stand.
How about instead chatting about the time you went star gazing on the beach or that adventurer you met at the top of some distant mountain!
Why Isn’t a Gap Year a Good Idea?
There are pitfalls. It can lead to you being knocked back from a university place as they may feel you will have forgotten the knowledge you gained while beginning your course.
This can land you in the position of having nowhere to go after your gap year, so you may end up having to go straight to job hunting.
This clearly isn’t a great idea, given that you won’t have the qualifications to get the job you want.
You can also end up with no money after your year out, as they can be expensive and, if you decide to travel, stop you from getting a permanent job.
Ending up broke abroad isn’t as much fun as you might have inexplicably come to imagine.
You could end up stranded and unable to get home, or without any way of continuing your trip.
Without money you can’t exactly book a room in whatever hotel or hostel you need to stay in next.
It can also be quite lonely as most of your friends will have gone to university and will be often too busy to just spend time with you.
Homesickness could be an issue, too – missing your family and friends can be a horrible feeling.
It can be an extremely stressful experience as well, providing for yourself and trying to survive without help from your parents.
Then you have to book flights and accommodation and don’t even get me started on the hassle of getting a visa.
If you’re not great with being organised then your stress levels are very likely to rise when you have to get all this done.
Those with anxiety problems should probably avoid going alone.
How Will a Gap Year Affect You?
IF you do take the plunge, you may come back a different person from when you set out.
You’ll be more mature, for starters. You’ve had to care for yourself for the last year and you’re no longer the child you once were.
You’ll grow up and that’s probably the biggest change you’ll face. You’ll probably become more independent as well.
Since you’re having to pay for everything yourself and budget your money, you’ll become more self-
 reliant. The child you left as will return a fully fledged adult.
You’ll learn a whole new set of skills to go along with the ones you already have.
You’ll become a more complex individual and probably find out things about yourself that you never knew. Your skillset will grow, so you’ll not only have the skills you set out with but a whole raft of new ones.
Sadly, it can also lead to you being a year behind in your studies so you may have to learn everything all over again.
You’ll lose just as much of a different type of knowledge as you could gain during the gap year.
How Will it Affect Your Future?
Taking a gap year can affect how high your chances of getting into university are.
This means that you could end up not getting a good job, as you will lack the qualifications necessary. This could seriously damage the future you once thought about having.
On the flip side, you could end up getting an amazing job in the end if you play your cards right.
If you get a good amount of work experience during your year out, then you’re sure to catch the eye of many employers if you can prove you already have the skillset to do the job you apply for, as they won’t have to spend as much time on your training and they know you’ll be capable of doing the job.
Work experience in job candidates can be like gold-dust to an employer.
You’ll be more organised, have a better understanding of different cultures and you’ll be more able to work independently.
The experience you gain by doing work experience during your gap year could also mean you’re more likely to get into other further education.
Taking a gap year doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be turned away, it could mean that some unis are jumping for the chance to have you study with them.
Gap Year Destinations

Photographs taken on tour in New Zealand 207.

New Zealand is one of the most popular destinations for people to visit during their gap year.
With its snowy mountains, sandy beaches and grassy hills it has so much to offer.
You can climb glaciers, take a dip in a hot pool and look up to a stunning vista in the sky lit with stars or visit Hobbiton to tour the the set of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Now who doesn’t like the sound of that?
What about Fiji? And no, I don’t mean the water brand. I mean the country, with its blue lagoons and outstanding beaches.
It’s the perfect relaxing getaway if you like chilling on the beach and simply watching the waves.
Or how about Peru? With it’s stunning jungles, coastal deserts and the breathtaking Andes mountains.
It’s basically heaven for anyone wanting to do backpacking as their gap year and I’m sure there are plenty of you out there.
There are ancient ruins you can visit, the nightlife is epic and there are amazing bucket list sights you must see.
The USA is another popular place to go, especially if you want a road trip. You can hire a car and take it across the country, stopping at whatever state you wish to.
America is an incredibly diverse country, so you can bet your bottom dollar your trip will be interesting. You can take a road trip from East to
West, and meet so many different people.
Now we mustn’t forget the wonder that is Australia. It’s the second most popular place to travel to on a gap year.
It’s huge, so there’s no end to the things you can do.
Take a trip to the Outback with all its wonders and animals. Lastly, there’s Thailand which is the most popular place for those going on a gap year.
You’ve got tropical paradise islands (brilliant for amazing beach parties) and bustling cities to spend hours walking around in, so no wonder people love to visit the country.