Getting a taste of the world is becoming more and more of a popular option amongst those deciding to take a year out either before or after studying. A year out between finishing with academia - something which has dominated roughly thirteen years of your life, don't forget - and finding a job 'in the real world' or carrying on with your studies gives you enough of a break to take a breather and decide 'what do I want to do?'
Adventure time in your prime
There is literally no better time to go on a gap year than before you get tied down with work commitments, a family or mortgage payments. Take advantage of being at this point in your life, and self-indulge in some of the things that you want to do before life takes over.
Explore the world
Most people that choose to take a gap year also choose to spend over half of it travelling. You can get around the world pretty cheaply nowadays, and with an increasing number of gap year companies catering for those that want to escape structured life back home and explore, there's no excuse for not seeing the sights you've always wanted to see, experience new cultures and foods and meet some incredible people on the journey.
Gap years don't have to solely revolve around eating noodles and having an extended holiday. You can take some time out and teach English abroad. English teachers are very much in demand and you still get time out to explore the country you're in and hang out with other people in the same situation as yourself. You can help conserve wildlife, volunteer and help out at medical centres in more remote areas, help build schools and buildings for communities - things that mean you experience a totally different way of life from flicking through Netflix or doing roughly the same thing every week.
Get to know yourself
This sounds cheesy. Horrendously cheesy - but every single 'gapper' will agree that if you didn't know what you wanted to do or what you wanted from life before you travelled, you'll certainly have an idea when you return home. It's difficult at a young age to make life-long decisions and on your travels you can see what you're good at away from the confines of school, college or university, or decide what sort of job you'd like to pursue.
Although gap years are sometimes portrayed as youngsters bumming about on a beach and eating noodles for twelve months, when you think about it, you do deserve a break. You've just spent the last decade -or more- of your life going to and from a place, Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm, being told what to do and what to learn - you're allowed a bit of a break before you go back to the grind.
Build those skills
We regularly read articles about employers specifically employing those with gap years because of their added 'life skills'. Your thrust into independence helps you gain important skills which can come in useful later on in life, and can be applied to the working environment. In your time away, you might also find your real talent - you might not have ever known that you have a knack for marine conservation without volunteering on your gap year.
Meet inspiring people
The gap-year community is something which grows along popular backpacking and traveller hotspots across the world. You're guaranteed to meet people who have some really interesting stories to tell, and other characters who you'll remember for the rest of your life. Even though you're in a different or remote country, you're almost guaranteed to meet someone who's from back home - it really is a small world.
'Travel is the only thing you can buy that will make you richer'
A popular traveller saying, but travelling on your gap year will not only give you better stories and anecdotes to tell when you experience new things, but different experiences that give you different perspectives on life. Meeting a variety of new people from different cultures also contribute to making you a richer, more interesting and all-over good-guy.
The prospect of providing for yourself, hundreds or even thousands of miles away from home can be really daunting, but when you do it, and once you've been left to fend for yourself (and consequently fended well) you come out a stronger and better person - you're awesome.
Have an adventure
The most important thing to remember - have fun, make memories to last a lifetime, learn from mistakes and the most popular gapper motto: 'Live every moment'. This could well be the last time you're able to get away with complete freedom, so make the most of every experience - and enjoy it!
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