How to make your gap year a worthwhile experience

Friday, 18 November 2011 10:33 AM

How to make your gap year a worthwhile experience

How to make your gap year a worthwhile experience

You may have been thinking about what you are going to do on your gap year for a long time. However, if you are uncertain what you should do with your time away, you may like to read these suggestions.

As well as being able to travel to a lot of different destinations, you might find it valuable to use your career break as an opportunity to do something worthwhile.

One popular way to do this is by volunteering to give back something to the communities that need it most. For instance, you may wish to help build schools in Africa.

There are a number of projects like this available, which will see you immerse yourself in a community, helping them to rebuild themselves or improve their living conditions.

Another way you can help locals is by spending time caring for orphans in Moldova or assisting ill and vulnerable children in Uganda.

Should you find it fulfilling to help kids, you may like to teach English to schoolchildren. By sharing your linguistic abilities with these youngsters, you may help them improve their future career prospects as being able to speak English is a very useful skill to have.

You may like to help kids to learn the language in Ecuador or share your science, IT and English skills with youngsters in Zanzibar, among many other options.

If your affections lie with wildlife, working closely with endangered or orphaned creatures could be just your thing.

Work with animals is a popular project to get involved in on a gap year, and you'll have a vast choice of what type of creatures you help depending on where you want to go.

For instance, if you choose to spend your time in Africa, you may find yourself rehabilitating lion cubs or monitoring whale sharks. Time in Australia, on the other hand, may mean you take care of kangaroos and koalas in a wildlife sanctuary.

There are other options as well as getting involved in voluntary work, and you might prefer to earn a wage while enjoying your gap year. An alternative way of doing this is by taking part in labour that the locals do, which will also enable you to understand the different lifestyle of the culture you visit.

Doing Australia ranch work might be ideal if you are looking to have a go at something different - and that you won't experience at home!

You will learn how to drive a tractor, herd cattle and ride a horse, as you don your cowboy hat every day on the ranch. Not only is this sure to be something you remember for a long time, but it is also an opportunity to experience a truly Aussie lifestyle.

There are, of course, other ways to fund your gap year, and you might simply prefer to teach English for a wage or find jobs that will enable you to continue travelling for longer.

Whatever you decide to do, it is worth bearing in mind the importance of what you can take away from your experience, as much as what you actually see and do.