Man and woman taking a break at a scenic view overlooking a lush green city while on a hike

Taking a gap year before, during, or after university is a popular way to learn about the world and experience different cultures. While gap years can be rewarding and educational, it’s essential to understand the risks and benefits before you take off.

What’s Your Intention?

Your goals and aspirations for your gap year make all the difference. If you’re considering taking a year off to go party on an island, with no plan for what you’ll do afterward, a gap year might not be the best idea. You may have fun for a while, but you’ll set yourself back. On the other hand, you can use a gap year before or after university to learn about yourself, other cultures, and how the world works. In these cases, taking a gap year can be a great experience that prepares you for your future.

Gap Year Educational Programs

One way to use a gap year to your advantage is to use your time away to explore career opportunities. Many institutions offer specialized gap year programs in teaching, medicine, business, and more. If you’re not sure what career path you want to follow, taking some time to evaluate your options can be helpful.

Another way to use a gap year to your advantage is to learn another language. There’s no better way to learn a foreign tongue than living abroad. By taking classes and speaking with locals, you’ll get up to speed in no time. Many employers favour multi-lingual candidates, so learning a new language can set you up for success for certain careers.

Transformational Experiences

A great way to use a gap year wisely is to set a goal. For example, you could spend your gap year training to climb Kilimanjaro. Transformational educational experiences can serve you down the road, as they teach you important lessons in perseverance, dedication, and creativity. Plus, you’ll have great stories and interesting perspectives when you start interviewing for jobs. You’ll stand out from the mass of students who went straight through school.

Consider the Cost

While gap years can be great ways to gain new perspectives on life, they’re not cheap. Especially if you’re planning on going abroad, taking a year off might be out of your reach. Make sure to carefully evaluate your financial situation to determine whether a gap year is realistic.

The good news is there are multiple ways to help fund gap years:

  • Work part-time to help fund your travels.
  • Fundraise from friends, family, or a crowdfunding program.
  • Cultural exchanges.

If you’re serious about taking a gap year, spend some time to evaluate all the options to make it financially feasible. Apply for scholarships for the programs you’re considering attending when you get back. Create a budget and open a savings account to help your money grow. Every dollar you save gets you just a little closer to making your gap year a reality. The sooner you start, the better.

Stay Safe

Taking a gap year abroad can be exciting but living in a foreign country also carries risks of disease and injury. To help keep you safe when you’re away from home, don’t forget to purchase travel insurance so that you and your family back home can have peace of mind.

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