There's an option for a gap year abroad which can not only earn you money but bring you an instant receptive audience. Teaching. Here are three accounts of people who did it and loved every minute.
Rob Webber coached village football in Ghana
Although I had no coaching experience and was a pretty average player, GAP SPORTS gave me the opportunity to coach football in Ghana. Three other coaches and I were taken to my village on the Wednesday, ready to start coaching for a tournament on the Sunday. The children were between nine and 21 and arrived en masse (about 75 of them) ready for a 'super session' from their European coach. With only seven balls and 18 cones there wasn't much I could do but I split the groups up and get them playing five-a-side football, which went down very well.
The session was great fun and, to my surprise, they applauded me afterwards. They even cleaned my kit and polished my boots in preparation for the next day. After some drills and a practice match during my early morning coaching session, I selected a squad of 18 players ready for the tournament. That evening the other coaches came to my village for a drink. The local spirit was pretty strong so we ended up trying to catch goats. We failed miserably and all ended up in a ditch.
Rob Webber in Ghana
The day of the tournament arrived and my village team played against the other GAP SPORTS village teams. The atmosphere was great with loud African music booming throughout the match. Sadly, my team lost the semi-final on penalties. I didn't feel too gutted though, since it had been such a good laugh. I must have looked upset as one of my players came up to me and said 'Mr Rob, don't worry, it's only a game'. Indeed it is, but what a crazy, unpredictable and passionate game it is in Ghana.
Matt Scott taught English in Sudan and Korea
Teaching English is a great way to see the world and make a difference. Many places, especially those in the less westernised parts of the world, are literally desperate for native English speakers to teach kids and adults.
My first placement was at The Nile University in Khartoum. Lecturing to more than 200 students with no facilities, not even books on most occasions, was not only an eye-opener but I felt it prepared me for anything to come.
My second placement could not have been more different. I was working at one of the top English language centres in South Korea; tutoring in writing and general conversation skills, with all the amenities I could wish for.
The textbooks were very dodgy though. A favourite lesson of mine was 'Ugly and Beautiful People', which showed those with below par looks (who also happened to be Western-looking) as bad mannered and impolite and the beautiful people as the kind you'd want to introduce to your mother. The lesson, which was written in all seriousness, was met with nothing but laughs from my students.
Jolyon in Costa Rica
Jolyon Orchard-Lisle worked in Costa Rica
I headed out to Costa Rica intending to follow the typical 'backpacker' plan of turtle beaches, rainforest zip-lines and all-round chilling out, but that all changed when I decided to catch some sun at a park in the capital city, San Jose. Little did I know I'd be asked to join in a game of football with some local shanty town kids. With no understanding of Spanish and very limited footballing skills, I rose to the challenge, took on the Ticos and had the time of my life.
Playing 'shanty town' football with the local children made me realise how much fun you could have with people from a completely different culture, even though I didn't speak a word of their language! I was also surprised at how skilful so many of the boys and girls were, despite most of them only having a pair of tatty old school shoes to play in! Not only was it a great laugh, it was very eye-opening.
Costa Rica can be summed up in one word - breathtaking! The diversity of its stunning wildlife and awesome landscapes, combined with the warmth of the friendly locals, has made it a country I'll never forget, and one I will always want to return to. As for playing sports overseas, I loved it so much that I am now spending the summer in South Africa coaching sports to township children.
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