(photo credit: Ian Schneider, Unsplash)
By Lauren Ponsi (Stint community manager)
College is coming to an end, the countdown to graduation is on (or in some cases passed!). Friends are accepting those big kid jobs or committing to graduate school. Neither of which seem to take your fancy. The world is calling your name and you decide that a gap year is what you need.
Well, here are some things you should know:
Money (…& Work)
Finance is the first thing that comes to mind when considering a gap year.
“How can I afford to spend a year traveling whilst living at the same time?” A working holiday visa is a great way to spend your gap year.
A working holiday visa is a residence permit allowing travellers to undertake employment while supplementing travel expenses. Take up a job in a bar, or cafe to make some extra cash. Employment agencies are also a great way to balance work and travel. They work with the schedule you want- say you work one month then take off the next month to travel. Having a stream of income makes financing a gap year less stressful and putting international work experience on your resume is a BIG bonus.
(photo credit: Steve Lewis, Unsplash)
Don’t be afraid to be alone
You will be starting fresh in a new city, and probably know no one there. This is the most intimidating idea of taking a gap year. Even for the most outgoing people, being in a foreign city and making friends can sound terrifying. But you’re already out of your comfort zone, what is the worst that can happen! Going off on your own is the best way to learn about a new city (and yourself). You’re not reliant on anyone else and you can do whatever you want to do. Sit at the cafe reading your favorite book, spend hours in the art museum or take that Irish step dancing class. Just go for it!
(photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash)
There will be ups and downs
You are probably daydreaming of that perfect hollywood-esque gap year where you meet Paolo and become an Italian pop sensation- come on, we’ve all been there! Being honest, things aren’t always going to go as planned. If you have a hard checklist of everything you want to get done, you’re going to be highly disappointed. Because with life ‘sh*t’ happens.
Enjoy the time that you have, the bumps in the road will pass and the ups will outweigh the downs.
You have to learn to go with the flow because when you miss your connecting flight and are stuck in the East Midlands (middle of England!) airport for 24 hours, there’s nothing having a meltdown will do to fix it, but it will make a great story later on. Enjoy the time that you have, the bumps in the road will pass and the ups will outweigh the downs.
A gap year is ultimately what you make of it. Experiencing a new country, new city, and a new culture is terrifying yet exciting. The best part of it all is you get to experience all these from a locals perspective. You melt into everyday life just like someone who was born there. You have your favorite Chinese food place not on the must-try tourist lists, you’ll know the bus routes like the back of your hand and even find yourself speaking the slang in everyday conversation. So what’s holding you back, just take the gap year!