Gap years are becoming more and more popular for students who want to experience the real world or take some time to travel before embarking on their next steps. It was recorded that more than 40,000 students in the US took a sabbatical program in 2013 and the numbers have continued to rise. Personal development, exploration and decision making are some of the big motivations for students considering a gap year. Yet, there are even more possibilities these days and that’s why you should plan effectively and take into account the following before taking a gap year …
First of all, think about how long it is actually going to take? A gap year doesn’t necessarily need to be a full year. You can find many programs which can be shorter and more intensive e.g. summer immersion programs or even 12 weeks volunteer placements. It’s a decision that you need to make with two things in mind: how long do you want to go for and how long can you afford to go for? Consider your studies, time constraints, your budget and your future plans – and plan accordingly!
Where are you going?
Sounds obvious but these days there are so many destinations to travel to, it can be a really hard choice! Consider your personal preferences, where your opportunities lie, and of course, your budget again. New cities and cultures are always so much fun as they present big learning and growth opportunities, as well as opening your eyes to a new part of the world.
Other things to consider regarding your destination would be; what’s the weather like in the season you’re going in? what language do they speak there? is it a safe city to travel to alone? do they have direct flights from your city to this destination? which culture would you dream of getting to know better? are you wanting to travel to more destinations from this one?
It is important to plan how are you going to pay for this gap year. If you want to work during it, how do you do this? What documents do you need? If you are going to use your savings, how can you choose a destination and program that are both affordable and rewarding?
Also, do you want to travel during your time abroad? If so, then set some funds aside for tourism and your adventures to new cities, which can also cost more than you think if you don’t plan ahead. Take into account all funding necessary and explore your options. Grants and study abroad scholarships are available from overseas programs and surely through your university too. So look into all options!
What’s your reason?
Probably the biggest question you should ask yourself, why are you taking this gap year? There are a whole host of programs that you can choose from to make your time abroad worthwhile. Do you want to further your professional career? If so, an internship abroad is a great idea. Or would you like to learn about a new language and culture? If so, then an immersion program in your desired culture would be perfect. Maybe you want to give back? There are so many volunteer opportunities that can enable you to do this. Or you may even want to combine these factors, which is also an option to. Explore all possibilities and come up with your own plan, so you feel like you are getting out of this experience what you truly want to.
For more information on Gap Year program in Spain, check out our website.