Not sure about taking the risk of going on a gap year? Think gap years are only for college students, or teenagers with no goal in life? Well, we’re here to assure you that gap years are 1. for everyone and 2. amazing in so many ways (we’ll get to that later)! When we say everyone can take a gap year, we literally mean EVERYONE. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, a fresh grad, or a seasoned professional. Still not convinced? Here are 7 perfect reasons for you to start packing and embark on a year-long adventure abroad:
1. Come on, we all deserve a break!
We know what you (and your parents) are thinking – aren’t gap years for kids who’ve just finished or half finishing school but can’t be bothered to start planning for their future? Contrary to popular belief, taking a gap year doesn’t necessarily mean you’re escaping from adulthood or tough career choices. Instead, the experience might be just what you need to clear your head a little before you sort out your future life prospects! A break from monotony lets you explore alternative lifestyles, values, and may even lead to long-term opportunities and career options. Take this time to gather your thoughts and rejuvenate from the hustle and bustle of life! Finding a better balance in life will lead you to get back to work or school feeling happier and refreshed without you getting burned out.
2. You’ll see the world differently
The best thing about going on a long journey is that you have the time to stop and smell the roses. You miss a lot of it when you’re checking off sightseeing spots while speed-walking through a city. Give yourself more time to take in the world, pick up the language, quirks and wisdom from another country. Engage in deep conversations, get to know the people around you, appreciate a new culture and embrace our diversities and differences (learning a simple hummus recipe could go a long way!).
You’re more likely to be able to keep to your budget and be motivated to travel cheaply if you’re travelling for an extended period of time, as opposed to if you were just taking a short-lived vacation. In other words, a gap year gives you the time to completely immerse yourself in another country and live with the locals, like a real local!
3. Because it’s all about those meaningful connections (that you can’t find anywhere else)
When who you meet on the road means more than the destination itself, that’s when you are truly living the workaway spirit!! With so many travel and volunteer opportunities via the site, not only are you able to share your adventures with your new host-family from your cultural exchange experiences, you’re also bound to be interacting and bonding with other volunteers from all walks of life, and meeting fellow nomads from all over the world who want to experience the world just as much as you do. It never hurts to meet more friends, right?
4. You’ll learn to love your routine when you return
You know what they say about not being able to love life until you’ve tried to get away from it? While returning home after a year-long adventure might sound like a downer, you will soon see that everything becomes fresher with new eyes and a different perspective. Many gap year students have said that they took their academic work more seriously after having a gap year experience. You come to cherish your friendships and families at home after staying at an Amazonian forest with no wifi, and after being on the go for so long sleeping in your warm bed almost sounds like heaven! The more you know about the world out there, the more you grow to understand and appreciate your home – or you might realise that your cubicle job is not for you and decide to open a farmstay in Portugal instead, which also works!
5. Give yourself (and your CV) an extra edge
So what comes after you return home from that non-profit school or eco retreat? It doesn’t just end here. Going on a gap year means that you’ve had the opportunity to gain knowledge, independence and a better understanding of the world. Savvy employers know that hands on experience is always the best way to learn, and they’re definitely going to be impressed by somebody who’s ventured out and picked up unique skills abroad.
One of our aims at Workaway is to give language learners a platform to immerse themselves in their target language whilst travelling abroad. You never know when your fluency in Korean from helping at a language cafe could come in handy! And who knows, maybe the problem solving skills gained from that Workaway trip at a social enterprise, or beekeeping and chocolate making handiness from helping at a farm might just be what sets you apart from other job candidates!
6. Everyone else is doing it!
We know the idea of travelling alone to a foreign country all by yourself for the first time can be very daunting, but with the growth of sharing economy and the help of technology, information is literally at our fingertips. There’s always an app, a guidebook or a cultural exchange project that can answer your questions. It’s easier now than ever to be volunteering and travelling solo with soooooooo much advice and insider tips on the Internet from people who’ve been there, done that, and loved it! So don’t let that fear hold you back.
7. Travel is life
There is SO much more to see in the outside world other than what’s in your school book or 9-5 office cubicle. Be curious and learn how people’s way of living differs from yours! Pick up a good habit here and there and be more knowledgeable about the world and yourself! As long as you enjoy it, there is no right or wrong to travelling. When you have travelled and formed enriching relationships, you will finally understand that home is just a concept and not a place. Home is a feeling. 💙
As the saying goes, you will only regret the things you haven’t done when you look back, and not the ones you did. Taking a gap year might sound like a lot to lose, but the memories, experiences and friends will last for a lifetime. So what are you waiting for? Are you ready to find your second home yet?