Time Off from Studies: How to Make the Most of Your Year

Plan the Ultimate Gap Year

It has become increasingly popular for students to take a year off prior to beginning college or university studies. This tradition, called a “gap year” in the UK, has spread to the US and elsewhere as more students decide to take a year off to mature, explore, and reflect. While gap years may have started as an upper-class luxury, more and more working-class families now appreciate the benefits. Rather than a year spent touring Europe or yachting, today’s gap year experiences are more likely to involve exotic locations and time spent volunteering.

Personal Development

There are countless reasons to take a year off before starting the next stage of education. For many students, the gap year gives them time to mature and determine what to study in college. After the confines of high school, exposure to new cultures and new possibilities can provide valuable new perspectives.

For personal growth, foreign retreats like the Kung Fu Retreat in Thailand combine two of the elements most sought after in gap years: The chance to experience new cultures and destinations and the opportunity to develop new skills. Combination gap year journeys are becoming increasingly popular. Martial art studies provide not only physical development; they emphasise mental strength and focus, as well.

Staying in one location for an extended period of time while studying provides the chance to develop a deeper understanding of a different culture. Rather than a typical tour that visits typical tourist sites surrounded by tourists, retreats give the time and access to the local people and culture. By combining these exotic locations with education, students aren’t simply absorbing new experiences; they are also able to tally up personal achievements. Having the goals and milestones in a learn retreat keeps the gap year from becoming an endless party, rather than an opportunity for growth.

Giving Back

The next popular options for gap years is using this as a time to volunteer. From Habitat for Humanity builds to international volunteer organizations, there is no shortage of places and ways for students to give back. There are locations around the world that offer volunteer opportunities. Options range from a few weeks in an exotic locale to extended stays. Students interested in taking more than a year off might consider organizations like the Peace Corps who provide training and volunteer positions that last just over two years.

Volunteer opportunities don’t require extended trips overseas. There are always many changes to make a difference closer to home. In addition to ongoing programs, new options regularly appear in response to current events. Following natural disasters, volunteers are needed to help with clean-up and recovery. Hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters result in a large number of people in need of help and opportunities for those who wish to give aid.

Sampling Working Life

It might not be as glamorous as traveling the world, but a gap year can be the perfect time to sample working life. For some students, this is a necessary time to earn the additional money needed while in school. Other students find this the perfect way to get work experience and gain a better understanding of what a specific field or job entails. Even an unpaid internship could provide huge rewards in personal development and an inroad into the student’s field of choice. Following completion of their studies, work experience of this type could make all the difference when the student needs to stand out from other candidates for the same position.


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