If you’re a young adult and have just finished your last year of school it can be a daunting and confusing time. Decisions being pushed on you about what to do next can leave your head spinning and with more and more options out there these days – get a job, go travelling, go to college or university, it can seem like a never ending pool of choices that need to be made. Depending on your long term goals and aspirations you may have already made up your mind about whether or not you want to dive right back into higher education, but for those who haven’t, the gap year is often a hugely beneficial option you may find in amongst all those other decisions. Here are some of the most popular, helpful, meaningful and interesting ways you can embark upon a gap year that will both change your life and help you make further decisions about which path to take.
Travelling For Fun
Travelling for the fun of it is a great idea and many fresh graduates take off for a couple of months (or more!) to gallivant around the world in a form of prolonged celebration of finishing their school years. Travelling for fun can be a great way to broaden your mind, build bridges, create new friendships and see the world while enjoying your free time before having to return home to make those decisions that will be waiting for you. Many young adults today are heading off to the likes of South East Asia due to its relatively low cost, hefty party scene and nightlife on some of the Thai islands as well as the general beauty and experiences the region can bring. Doing things like renting motorbikes to picnic at waterfalls with new friends, camping in rainforests or learning new card games while sipping local beers around a table at a back alley guesthouse are just a few of the multitude of activities and experiences that can open your world to a whole new way of thinking and living.
Travelling With Meaning
Travelling with meaning is similar to travelling for fun but instead you’re travelling to places that are important to you personally and/or you’re looking to essentially take a pilgrimage of sorts. Think of it as your own version of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by heading to the likes of temples, doing yoga or meditation retreats in the Himalayas or painting mandalas with monks in Tibet. All these things are meaningful and can help wayward souls to look more introspectively at themselves, answering questions that have been plaguing them, or perhaps even opening you up to potential new avenues (hello, yoga teaching!) that you may not have thought about before. What better way to spend a couple months or a year than by taking up a new pursuit such as meditation or yoga, learning ayurvedic healing or other meaningful and spiritual practices you can take home with you to help improve and benefit your own life?
Volunteering these days is a great way to learn new skills, make new friends and make a difference while having fun. There are so many options scattered all around the world but if you really want to make a difference in the lives of others, consider volunteering in the likes of Tanzania where you can spend your days teaching in the local village schools either on Zanzibar or the mainland, helping to build wells, houses, provide basic health and wellness information and more. Volunteering in Tanzania is an amazing opportunity for anyone of any age and you can see firsthand how your presence and assistance benefits the people you come into contact with daily. Volunteering abroad also looks fantastic on resumes and CV’s, so it’s a great option for those who are only looking to spend a month or two away from home before returning to pursue work or higher education. So why not give volunteering in Tanzania a go? The stories you will come back with will be endless, heartwarming and will stick with you forever!
Teaching English Overseas
One thing that is consistently popular amongst many young adults is the prospect of teaching English overseas. Depending where you want to go will depend on what is required of you in order to land a job, with some Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan, some schools in China and even occasionally in Thailand now requiring a degree of some kind. Many other countries though have far less stringent requirements and many just need you to be a native English speaker and you can land work teaching. This is a great introduction to the world of teaching for would-be teachers who are thinking about it as a profession back home. Essentially anywhere English isn’t spoken as a native language you can find teaching jobs.
For better luck finding jobs, consider doing a TESOL or TEFL qualification before you head out on your trip – short courses that can be done online or in class over a weekend that will teach you essentially how to be an English teacher and provide you with the certification. This can help you get higher paying, longer term jobs which is great for those travellers wanting to prolong their travels and living abroad. You can even keep it up when you return home by working through immigration centres, tutoring foreign children and the like.
Another plus to teaching English is sometimes you can barter and trade it for things like free food and accommodation in countries, offering your services to teach English to guesthouse staff or the owner’s children in exchange for freebies. Win-win!
Take On A Challenge
Are you a thrill-seeker or challenge lover? Why not challenge yourself abroad by doing something truly unique that none of your other friends (probably) have done? Challenges like climbing mountains, doing fantastic dives once qualified or taking on a new skill like surfing can be a great way to spend a couple of months abroad just getting to know yourself outside of school. Consider getting your open water, advanced open water or dive instructor certification, tackle Kilimanjaro or Mount Fuji, and go home with a whole backpack full of stories and experiences that you can enjoy for years to come.
There you have some great ways you can enjoy a couple months up to a year (or more) off once you finish school. So what will you choose? With so many great options out there, you might find that you struggle to pick just one. The great thing about freedom and travelling though is that you don’t ever have to settle for just one thing – you can literally do them all if you so choose! Good luck, and enjoy your newfound freedom!