What is a Gap Year Program?
What is a Gap Year?
"A semester or year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and prior to career or post-secondary education, to deepen one's practical, professional, and personal awareness."
During this period, students will take part in some social projects to improve their skills, enrich their life experiences, and explore their future career directions. This kind of experiential-learning program, it's a Gap Year Program.
What Can I Do On My Gap Year?
Learn a New Language
We all know it's beneficial to learn a new language, but it's also hard. You should start from a beginner, know the phonetic symbols, be familiar with the grammar, understand the culture behind the language, and finally, you can communicate with the local people comfortably, which sounds very good.
If you want to know more about Eastern culture, I would recommend you to learn Chinese, which is spoken by nearly billions of people around the world. In recent years, Chinese has become one of the most popular languages in the world. People find it interesting to learn Chinese as they are also getting to know more about Chinese culture, which is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago!
How to learn a new language? There are language apps, websites, videos available on the internet. You could also sign up for language exchange programs/schools or make some foreign friends who are native speakers to help you learn and practice the language. With one year of hard study, I'm sure you will at least be at the B1/B2 lever and have the ability to communicate with local people or travel without language barriers.
Be an International Volunteer
As a saying goes, “Our generation has the ability and the responsibility to make our ever-more connected world a more hopeful, stable and peaceful place.”
It's meaningful and valuable to be a volunteer. The more we give, the happier we feel. Volunteering increases self-confidence. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment.
You could teach kids language, math, music, scientific knowledge or art in underdeveloped areas. You could help out with the protection of endangered species, saving the natural environment or help improve the quality of life for rescued animals. You could also join environmental volunteering abroad projects to support marine conservation, jungle conservation, coastline conservation, etc. There are so many volunteering opportunities out there. You will surely find one that you like most!
As a volunteer, you can get a certificate, broaden your horizons, and enrich your life experience. It's a good idea to be a volunteer on your gap year.
Be a Cultural Care Au Pair
Cultural care au pair is a mutually rewarding, intercultural opportunity for both au pairs and host families. If you like children, I'm sure you'll love this gap year program very much.
To be a cultural care au pair can be different from and could be better than to take up any conventional part-time job in many ways if you look at the cultural part of it. It's an Exchange Opportunity, which means you get to learn/polish the language and the culture by living with the local and helping the family take care/ tutor the host children.
You will have pocket money to cover your expense, have the chance to travel with the family and participate in some cultural activities as well. It's like a chance to travel and explore the new culture on a low budget!
How to Apply?
You could use the keywords like "Gap Year Program", "Volunteer Internationally", "AuPair" to find some related programs and do more research on them. Usually, there would be links for you to apply and contacts for you to get more information.
Before you commit to the program, make sure you understand how it works and it's something you would love to do for a few months in the near future. You could contact the program representatives, read the posts on their social media (e.g. Instagram and Facebook), get in touch with the program alumni, ask for suggestions from your friends and parents.
Why is the Gap Year Program So Popular?
Some of the most common Gap Year Programs fit the following profile, with an emphasis on experiential education and challenging comfort zones. International Gap Year Program may benefit students in these ways:
Being immersed in a different environment, it's definitely the best time for reflection! It can give you the mental space to decide which educational or career path is best for you. There are so many students that don’t figure out what they want to do until it’s too late and they have already paid for an education, so their only options are to either stick with the career that they are able to get into with the degree they have or to go back to school and obtain yet another college degree.
You can boost your professional skills. During the gap year program, you will, for sure to meet a lot of people who have more experience in life, school, and career. It would be the best time to learn from experts, get experience, and seek out specialized training. You may be able to earn certifications or become proficient in skills in your career field.
To join a Gap Year Program, you will be responsible for making the most of your own gap year. You are also having the change to grow your independence and know yourself better! This is something a lot of students don’t learn until later in life, and it’s very detrimental to them. Learning independence and being responsible will serve you well not only through your college life, but through your entire life.
As Mary Anne Radmacher said, “I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” For an international Gap Year Program, you get the chance to travel to another country, to explore the foreign culture and learn a new language probably. It also gives you the opportunity to witness everything the world has to offer. Thus, you will broaden your horizons and refresh yourself!
Meet new friends all over the world! Another benefit that you would have is to make new friends, mostly foreign friends! Everyone is unique based on his educational background, the culture he grows up, and the experiences he has in his life. There's a saying in Chinese: 三人行，必有我师焉, which means there is always someone to learn from. You might learn from his experiences, or his ideas would help you figure out your future career or know more about yourself. On the other hand, , These friendships are not only great due to their social aspect, but they can also become powerful business contacts in the future, allowing you to further your professional network in an engaging and fun manner.
In a word, look for a gap year program that suits you and enjoy the adventure!