Today I want to chat about gap years. This is coming from the perspective of someone who chose not to take a gap year. With results day looming, the topic of gap years will be coming up a lot – are you taking one? What are you doing in it? Have you got one planned in case you miss you grades?
Being completely honest, two summers ago, I did have a gap year planned (very loosely). My school advised that you think about the worst case scenario (missing the grades for your insurance and first choice) and what you would do. I had a very generous insurance offer of ABB which was lowered for me from AAB, so I was not too concerned about this, but nonetheless it was an interesting exercise. At the time I had been working part-time for Prezzo for 2 years and so my plan would have been to increase my hours there to go full time for a while and raise money to travel around Europe on an interrail, and then spend a couple of months doing work experience placements near home.
Luckily I didn’t have to embark on this, but with mant students on my course having taken gap years it’s often a talking point.
I don’t regret skipping a gap year for several reasons. Since joining the University of Exeter, I have done plenty of travelling abroad – the Seychelles (with my family), Rome, Copenhagen and Amsterdam (with my boyfriend), Milan (with my friends), Brazil (a field trip) and I am off to Croatia in a couple of weeks. I have also travelled to new places within the UK (Gloucestershire, Bath, Newquay, Oxford, Stratford Upon Avon). I have done this as well as having internships in both summers and working in the holidays part-time, so if you are taking a gap year ONLY because you don’t think you will get the chance to travel again, I don’t think this is the case at all. I have friends that have been on GeogSoc trips to Amsterdam and Prague, gone on expeditions to climb Kilimanjaro or to Peru, and friends on Bio field courses to the Bahamas. Others I know take a year abroad which has a lot more structure and purpose to it than the average gap year, or if you can speak a language, you can au pair or teach abroad in your holidays!
The message really is: you will have endless opportunities to travel at university, so don’t think a gap year is the only way.
When I graduate next summer (hopefully) I plan on doing a fair bit of travel in that summer before I start a job/masters, so that’s another time to add to my list!
Another option, is something that I am seriously considering – doing a masters abroad!
Don’t panic if you are scared University will put a 3 or 4 year block on any travels – just use the long holidays wisely and look for the many opportunities the university has for working/studying/interning abroad!
And if you’re set on your gap year… Enjoy!