If you’re reading this article, you probably already know what a gap year is. Yet, you’re not really sure that (and if, at all) it would be a good fit for you. And you’re right.
So how to choose a gap year that’s perfect for you?
First off, remember that a gap year doesn’t have to be one-year-long. A gap year will be as long (or short) as you need it to be.
Then, ignore those who say that a gap year is for high school seniors only. It’s not about how old you are, but about where you are in your life. A gap year is for everyone.
Finally, take a look at these tips to choose the best gap year for yourself. Then pack your bags and enjoy it.
More a gap, than a year
While the term «gap year» could lead you to think of a full year away from your usual life, the gap part is the one you should really focus on. Not the length of your gap year, but its meaningfulness.
A break, a difference, a void to fill. A gap can be all these things, but a gap year doesn’t have to be all of them. When you think of a gap year, what comes to your mind?
Is it the need to take a break from a routine, to recharge your batteries and gain new energy? Is it the feeling of not being ready for the next step in your life, hence a desire to offset the unbalance and prepare for a fair start? Or maybe it is just the longing for a new experience you’ve always dreamed of but never dared to achieve?
So the first question you should ask yourself is: what do I need this gap for?
Make the gap year about you
It may sound selfish, but this is actually the most honest advice you will take. The whole point of taking a gap year is for you to become a better version of yourself. So the gap year should be about you, about your own growth and improvement. If something good for someone else can come out of it, good. If not, no big deal.
Look for an opportunity that may enhance your personal abilities and skills, or uncover your hidden talents. If you’re not sure what career you should take, try one and see if it suits you. If you’re taking a big leap, opt for something that could enrich your life (and your resumé, in the meantime).
Learn a foreign language, develop new practical and theoretical skills, try new sports, pick a new hobby, conquer your fears, push your limits. This list is endless.
Evaluate the benefits connected to every option. Set some goals (mental and concrete), but don’t be afraid to settle for less. Don’t let your gap year turn into yet another reason to stress over a missed target.
Keep your feet on the ground
Let’s be honest. Unless you win the lottery, there’s no way you can just leave on a 200+ countries roundtrip and draft your very own list of the 7 wonders of the world. But if you do win the lottery, feel free to send us a postcard from your trip. What we mean is: be reasonable. If you’re looking for a change, you’ll know that even an apparently small change can make a huge difference in your life.
Think it through then: dates, activities, expenses. When would be the right time for you to leave? Set a budget you can afford, but don’t feel compelled to use it all up. Don’t fall down the rabbit hole looking for all kinds of activities to fill your days up. Planning is important, but overplanning might backfire on you. Leave some time out, unplanned. And some money aside, just in case anything unexpected happens. Make plans, so that you can change them if they don’t work. Day-by-day planning might not work out well in some circumstances, so you better be prepared.
Take the most out of your gap year
Be it a full year volunteering with a community not far from home, a full season as a fruit-picker or a fully immersive language and culture course, make your gap year a phenomenal one. Think about the people you will meet, and what you will learn from them. Reflect on the skills you will develop, and the flaws you will accept and maybe change.
A great gap year idea is the one offered by Syracuse Academy and MADE in Syracuse, Sicily. An intensive Italian language course (with the possibility to get a language certificate that will look great on your CV) followed by a two-week design workshop with international artists from all over the world. In between, two «free» weeks to explore Sicily, #7 on the New York Time’s list of 52 places to go to in 2020.
And if you have more time, you can just opt for a longer Italian language course and extend your travels to other beautiful Mediterranean destinations.
Always remember: this gap year is about YOU.