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The benefits of taking a gap year

By Sean Burke Subscribe to RSS | April 23rd 2012 | Views:
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Gap years are a controversial subject in the UK. Many adults find the idea of a gap year a “waste of time”, in which young people fritter away money in overseas countries. For others, a year out between school and university is seen as a mind-expanding, culturally enriching experience that gives young people a sense of individuality and confidence. If you’re undecided about whether or not to take a gap year, here’s a quick summary of its benefits for you to keep in mind.

For starters, taking a gap year can open you up to cultures and experiences you’ve never heard of before. Spending 6 months travelling around India, for example, will expose you to one of the world’s most vibrant, diverse and economically important nations. What’s more, an extended gap year trip to India will usually reveal more about the country than a short 3-week holiday. A short trip is likely to include major attractions and activities, like the Taj Mahal, an elephant ride, the beaches of Goa and the sights and sounds of Mumbai. However, during a gap year, you’ll be able to spend longer in these places and really get to know the people and landscape.

What’s more, a gap year provides the perfect opportunity to engage in charity work or volunteering. Many gap year travellers choose to spend their time teaching English in South America, picking fruit in the Mediterranean, building schools in Africa or working on farms in Australia. Such a volunteering experience may be the first time you have participated in charitable work, and can have a significant influence on your social conscience as an adult.

Of course, one of the main drawbacks of gap years is that they can be expensive. Even if you’re spending your gap year in a country like India, where it’s relatively cheap to live if your resources are in pounds sterling, the cost of flights and travel can add up. Other essential expenses, like gap year or student travel insurance can add further to costs. However, some volunteer abroad projects do provide accommodation and some meals, so these opportunities may be preferable if you’re on a tight budget.

If you can’t afford to volunteer abroad, there are hundreds of volunteering opportunities at home in the UK. For instance, farmers in Scotland and Wales often need help with intensive activities like sheep shearing, lambing and potato harvesting. If you’re working full-time during your gap year but want to volunteer on the side, consider helping out agencies that hand out food hampers to needy families in the UK for a few hours a week. What’s more, people that volunteer with high street charity shops during their gap year will not only be doing a good deed but will also be gaining crucial experience of the retail sector, which could be of benefit when applying for a paid retail job in the future.

Sean Burke - About Author:
The author of this article is a part of a digital marketing agency that works with brands like Bupa. The views and opinions expressed within this article belong to the writer and any reference or summary of Bupa Health Information Factsheets is that of the writers and does not represent Bupa or the information contained within the Bupa website. The contents of this article are of a general nature only and do not constitute specific advice.  This article does not take into account your circumstances or needs and must not be relied upon in place of appropriate professional advice.

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