What type of gap year?
From working as a rep or an au pair in another country to kicking back and relaxing on a beautiful beach, there are plenty of ways to spend a gap year. TheSite talks you through your options.
What do you want to do?
Gap years can be a gateway to new experiences, friendships and skills. It may be that you want a break between college and uni, or college and work, or you might not be a student at all. According to Tom Griffiths of gapyear.com, non-students are the fastest emerging group taking gap years. Whether you want to chill out, build up your CV, or make a difference in the world, the opportunities are out there.
Au pair and childcare
Au pair work abroad can be a good way to experience the life, language, and culture of a country.
What: Looking after the children, baby-sitting some evenings, and doing light housework; you may be expected to cook for the children.
When: The work involves living as part of a family for a period of between one and 12 months (usually au pair work abroad will be a minimum of six months), you will be expected to work for about 30 hours a week over six days.
Working on holiday camps, and other tourist resorts
There are many opportunities to work on holiday camps with young people, both in the UK and further afield (mainly in the USA).
What: Vacancies in catering, shop, laundry, as well as people who can act as group leaders, entertainers, counsellors, couriers, and sport instructors.
When: Usually summer, although if you are working abroad there are opportunities all year round, such as a ski instructor in the Alps.
What: You could take some time off for formal study at home or abroad which will help you in your future studies or job, do Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), take part in an exchange programme such as Erasmus or just do some informal study.
You may decide that you want to take a year off to explore the world, either by yourself or with a few friends. If you are going to organise this yourself you will need to plan well ahead.
What: Exploring the world. Could be packed full of extreme sports, a spiritual journey, or a chance to immerse yourself in other cultures.
When: Use the net or browse through some guide books to find out when the best surf is up, where the best walking routes are, or when the biggest arts, music or religious festivals are on so you don't miss out on some quality experiences.
Volunteering can be immensely rewarding, giving you the chance to live and work in a country - as well as meeting many people from all over the world who may become travelling companions.
What: Working on interesting projects for free. You will have to decide what type of work interests you e.g. working to help people in need, or working outside on conservation and environmental projects. Working for organisations that give advice and counselling to people can help if you want to do social work later.
Kibbutz are rural communities where work, income and property are shared by its members, they can be found all over Israel.
What: Kibbutz welcome volunteers to live as part of their community experiencing this unique way of life. The types of work at a kibbutz can include: catering, looking after children, agricultural work, or light industry. You will be expected to work as hard as the kibbutz members, which means six to eight hours per day, for six days of the week.
When: There are opportunities to live and work on a kibbutz for a few weeks or for many months.
But I've left it too late for a placement
Most organised gap year placements take place between January and April, but there will always be others throughout the year. If you've only just decided a gap year placement is the way forward, check out gapyear.com, where you'll find all the remaining gap year opportunities, from turtle protection projects to becoming an adventure instructor - but be prepared to pay for most of them.
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