1. Experiencing Other Cultures
Taking a gap year allows you to travel the world during a time in your life where responsibilities are minimal—no mortgage, no bills, no children. This allows you to spend an extended period of time immersing yourself in another culture and unearthing the nuances of a culture you may be unfamiliar with. You’ll find yourself learning about and participating in cultural arts and events, enjoying and making traditional foods, and spending time and building friendships with locals.
2. Making a Positive Impact
Spending time abroad opens your eyes to the world around you—you’ll learn about how other people live and you’ll likely walk away with a whole new perspective of your surroundings. Cultural exchange is a two-way street, which means you can provide and receive support from people and communities all around the world.
3. Discovering Your Interests
A gap year can help you figure out if your favorite hobby or interests are truly a passion you want to pursue. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life at home can open your eyes to new opportunities and areas of study. Gap year programs with a special focus like Environmental Conservation or Food Security provide an opportunity to test out your interests outside of the classroom. Programs that cover a wide variety of topics can also introduce you to new interests.
4. Developing Useful Skills
After completing a gap year program, you’ll walk away well-equipped with coveted workplace skills and life experience! You will find yourself a more flexible and adaptable individual and may pick up some hard skills like community development, graphic design, or writing, depending on your program or what you do during your gap year. These skills can prepare you for college, internships, and for entering the workforce.
5. Learning a New Language
Whether you want to brush up on your Spanish or are interested in learning a completely new language, there’s no better way to do so than surrounding yourself with native speakers. Gap year programs often include intensive language classes and provide plenty of opportunities to practice your language skills.
6. Building Lifelong Friendships
The people you embark on a gap year program with, the locals you meet, and the host family you stay with often end up becoming your lifelong friends. The special memories you create with each other and the adventures you experience together help create a one-of-a-kind bond.
7. Preparing Yourself for College
While some people are hesitant to pursue a gap year for fear of starting college “late”, a gap year is actually a great way to prepare yourself for college. In fact, studies have shown that students who take a gap year often have higher GPAs and are more involved in campus life than students who don’t take a gap year.
8. Boosting Your Professional ResumE
Employers value individuals who are culturally-aware and can adapt to new environments and collaborate with people from diverse backgrounds. Participating in a gap year program can help you develop all these skills even before you step foot into your first college class. Including your gap year program on your resumé demonstrates unique skills and experiences to your employer that other jobs can’t provide.
9. Collaborating Across Cultures
Whatever project you’re working on during your gap year, collaborating with people from different cultures can stimulate unique perspectives and produce stellar results. Collaborating across cultures can also transform the way you think and develop your critical and creative thinking skills.
10. Making Unforgettable Memories
From exploring the Andean highlands to communal living on a nature reserve, your gap year will be a year to remember! Wherever you go for your gap year or whatever program you enroll in, you’re sure to make a lifetime of culturally-rich memories.