Hello! If you are planning a gap year before you would go to university or start working, it is important that you plan your time so...

How to make the most out of your Gap Year


If you are planning a gap year before you would go to university or start working, it is important that
you plan your time so you can have some fun, improve your skills, as well as your chances of getting
a good job. From cultural awareness to new languages and qualifications, you can add something fun
and useful to your gap year, so you can return relaxed, knowing more about life, and seeing clearer
about your future. Gap year might be your last opportunity to make a decision about your career,
where you want to live, and what you would like to achieve. Use this time in your life in a smart way,
and it will pay off for many years to come.

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Learn New Skills
It might be time to brush up your skills or try things you always wanted to have a go at. This might
include getting an official qualification for diving, swimming, or other sports. You will no waste your
time and money if you learn how to do things you are interested in. Whether you are looking to learn
ancient art or tribal skills, there is a place waiting for you. If you are planning on starting a career in
catering, you can shadow world-famous chefs around the world and pick up skills that will really start
you off on your career. No matter what your chosen career path is, there will be a place to explore
where you can learn new skills.

Many people who spend their gap year want to travel, but they don’t have the money, given the cost of higher education. If you would like to get free accommodation and language courses, as well as your food, you can look for volunteering opportunities abroad. From wildlife preservation to community projects and even engineering, there are plenty of ways you can get to know new places and put your existing skills to good use, while improving your knowledge and becoming more streetwise, so you can deal with the world of work and study better in the following years.
Get to know new cultures
In case you are a keen traveller, you can go backpacking during your gap year and stick to a small budget that way. No matter if you are looking to spend a few weeks or months in Asia and rent a cheap apartment or stay at different hostels and tour a new continent, you can make your money last of you create a careful budget. Before you set off, however, make sure that you check out the selection of HDB flats in Singapore and work out whether it would be cheaper to travel with a friend or old classmate to spread the costs.  
Pick up a language
Some people say that you are an extra person if you speak another language on a native level. In your teens and twenties, you will find it much easier to pick up a new language. Make sure that you enrol in an official training, as well as mixing with people. If your degree requires a language exam, you can tick this box. Learning a new language during your gap year will also improve your employability, so you don’t have to find a way of standing out from the pool of qualified applicants after you finish your course.
Get an extra qualification

You might think that you already have your future planned out after you finish your studies, but things change. There are plenty of great qualifications that can enhance your degree courses and diploma, including language, communication, leadership, or accounting. Add these to your future or existing list of qualifications, and you are more likely to be getting offers from top companies all over the world. Computer sciences and research skills are important in many industries, and if you can work in a research lab for a few months, you will be treated differently than the rest of the applicants.
Write a book
In case you have always wanted to express your feeling, but never had the time, the gap year can give you the perfect opportunity. Whether you would like to write about your experience during the gap year, or create a non-fiction book you can sell on Amazon and other platforms to supplement your income, this might be your last and only chance before you will get too busy working and studying. Writing a book - or at least starting it - can also help you reflect on your life so far and your personal mission and vision that will be useful when you finally make the decision on what you are doing with your life.
Brainstorm your business ideas
In case your long term goal is to run your own business and set up your company, you can use the gap year to brainstorm ideas and observe the world around you. If you choose to travel, you might spot some opportunities you would otherwise not notice at all. It is important that you reflect on your skills and development areas that are related to your future business, so you can better yourself and get ready for the challenges ahead. After all, nobody was born to be a successful entrepreneur.
Make new friends

Your gap year might also provide you with a unique opportunity to make friends for life. No matter if you meet them while volunteering, taking a course, or travelling, you are likely to be influenced by their culture, values, and style. In this influential time of your life, you will need to be open for new ideas and opportunities. Don’t stay stuck in the same environment and mix with people from every walk of life. You can get involved in community projects in your neighbourhood or abroad and meet people who think the same way as you.

Go hiking
Many young people choose to go on a hiking vacation while they are spending their gap year. The good news is that you will be able to take a tent, hire a camper van with your friends, and keep the costs low. After all, it is about the experience and seeing more of the natural wonders of the world, and not treating yourself to luxury. When you are on a budget, you can take a cross-country trip and visit the places you always wanted to see. Create your itinerary and invite some friends along, as you can spread the cost and stay safer.
Challenge yourself
In some cases, people try to build their self esteem to give life a go after. In case you haven't managed to secure a place at your chosen college or university the first time round, you might be feeling a bit low. There is no better way of dealing with this disappointment than showing yourself what you are capable of with a bit of determination. You can decide to take some of your exams again to improve your scores, study for a couple of months, or enrol in online learning courses that will improve your chances of getting your university or college space the next time round.
Foreign apprenticeships

In case you already know what you would like to do after you graduate, you will need to make sure that you are looking at places where they provide the best on-the-job training. For those who would like to maximise the benefits of their gap year, foreign apprenticeships might be the right idea. You will not only learn from the best professionals in the world, but also learn to use another language on a professional level. This will open new opportunities for you when it comes to getting a job or a paid apprenticeship job back home.

Image via Anete Lūsiņa

Teach English
An increasing number of students spending their gap year choose to teach English abroad. Completing an ESL course will not take you a long time, and you can choose your preferred location to travel to. If you would like to get paid, learn a new culture and language, and have your accommodation and food sorted, this can be a great choice for you. Get in touch with a course operator or agency and find out what the requirements of working abroad as an English teach are. Ask whether or not your travel and accommodation costs would be covered, and you are ready to spend a few months at your chosen location and make new friends from all over the world.
Keep a diary
Many people who have already spent their gap year will tell you that it goes extremely fast. You are not likely to remember every funny story and person you came in contact with. It might be a good idea to keep a diary and take notes, so you can remember how much you learned during the short span of a couple of months.
Deciding on how to spend your gap year can be challenging. You have so many great options to choose from, depending on your aspirations, budget, and preferences. Do your research carefully, and choose the option that is most likely to improve your career chances long term.

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