Your Gap Year Opportunities Explained.
So you have decided that you want to take a gap year after year 12 and not commence tertiary studies? Well, as exciting as it may sound, there is a lot more to a gap year than you may have thought. First you need to decide what type of gap year appeals to you. Your choices include;
- A working gap year
- Training with the defence force
- A volunteering gap year
- A travelling gap year
First things first, before you decide on which gap year most suits you, there is one thing you are most definitely going to need. Money makes the world go round, and unfortunately you are not going to get very far without it. Unless you are a trust fund baby and have a bottomless bank account, you are going to have to get it somehow.
If you are forward thinking enough to have planned and saved for your trip by spending your school days with a part-time job, then credit must be given where credit is due, well done! If you haven’t planned that far ahead, there is no need to worry, there are ways and means of funding your gap year.
The majority of the time, if travelling overseas, a flight needs to be paid for and perhaps the cost of your chosen program. This is where you can possibly turn to the people who love you the most in the world. That is right, mom and dad. Setting up a loan from your parents is much easier than doing it through a bank and they will probably be more understanding than a bank would be with repayments.
So you now have the money to go on your gap year, there are a few more considerations that need to be taken into account. As mentioned earlier the type of gap year you choose is very important, each of the gap years can take you to any location in the world. Where you go will certainly impact your experience.
A working gap year
You could teach English in a different country
There are thousands of programs that cater to any need with a working gap year. You can work locally, nationally or internationally. Most of the programs internationally require you to pay for your flight to your destination, and an initial fee for the company which organises the job. There are a wide variety of jobs available for school leavers including; camp councillors in The United States, a ski or snowboard instructor in Canada, or working in a bar in The United Kingdom. Programs vary in length from a month to twelve months.
There are a few organisations which are more recognised than others and they can help you decide which route to take:
If you do decide to take a working gap year, you will need to be prepared because it is not going to be easy. First of all you may experience a certain amount of culture shock. Not every country is like Australia, and secondly you are going to need to work hard.
The Australian Defence Force
Join the Australian defence force
If working hard is what you are after, join The Australian Defence Force, they pay up to $40 000 a year if you sign up. You can work for the Navy or the Army and it is a twelve month program. This gap year is a highly competitive one and there is no guarantee that you will be accepted, and if you are accepted there is no obligation to serve longer than twelve months. The Australian Defence Force website explains all the terms and conditions of your enrolment:
A Volunteering gap year
Helping those who are less fortunate is a rewarding experience
Not only does a volunteering gap year make you feel better about yourself and allow you to make a substantial difference in communities that are in desperate need, but it also highly regarded by employers. Having experience volunteering can be one of the best things you can do in a gap year. There is never enough help that can be given to those who are less fortunate. You can do it by yourself or in a team with people you already know. Programs allow you to volunteer from two months to twelve. There are a wide variety of programs that cater not only for people in need, but also for animals.
Volunteering has seen a huge increase in recent years, and the cost you incur is usually only the flight to your destination. Most often accommodation and meals are provided. What you do need to be careful of is not getting exploited. You are required to volunteer for a set amount of time, but you should not be made to feel as though you are being taken advantage of. Another piece of advice, read up on where you are going, many developing countries have diseases you may never have even heard of, and if you are concerned it would be a good idea to consult your general practitioner before leaving.
A travelling gap year
So none of the options above really appeal to you? And you really just want to see the world with a backpack? Well then this is for you. Backpacking or simply travelling for a year will be an unforgettable experience. With travelling, either on your own, or with a friend, there are a few handy tricks to know. Firstly, plan ahead. Yes, the need for spontaneity and fun is understood, and by all means be spontaneous and have fun, but know where you are going and, at the end of the day, how to get home.
Secondly, it may be handy to have a list with a few important numbers. The Australian Embassy may be handy for after you were spontaneous. There are many companies that organise specific trips where you can travel around Europe, ‘Greek Island Hop’, or tour The United States, your opportunities are endless.
Finally, whatever it is you choose to do with your gap year, whether it be in working, volunteering or simply travelling remember to have fun, it will possibly be the best year of your life.