You’ve aced your exams, received your high school diploma or finished the year at university and have all the time in the world to do exactly what you want to do. There’s just one problem – you have no idea what you actually want to do. Although many of you will head straight to university (or into further study), some of you might have had enough of studies for now, anyway. If that’s the case, a gap year can be a great way to clear your head, enjoy your freedom and figure out who you really are and what you really want to do with your life.
Here are some ideas on how to spend the weeks and months ahead.
1. Start a blog or build a website
Have you got an interest that you always wanted to devote your life to, but you never managed to with your nose pretty much permanently buried in books? Well, now it´s time to switch focus. Whether it’s traveling, cooking, taking care of animals or designing clothes – why don´t you document what you do in a blog and create a portfolio of stories, photos, video or designs that showcase your interests? It could even become a career (plenty of people have made it into one).
If you already have a portfolio of, say, photos to show off, why not build a personal website? A nice-looking personal website will always be an asset, especially once you start looking for a job.
2. Get work experience
Do you know what’s so great about a gap year? You’re probably still living at home with your parents and don’t have any rent to pay and fridges to fill. But just because you don’t have any expenses doesn’t mean you should just lie on the couch doing nothing all day long. This is a great time to get out and get work experiences without the pressure of earning enough or paying lots of bills. Doing an internship at this stage is a great idea because it will help you figure out what you enjoy doing and what you’re passionate about, maybe even what you want to study afterwards.
3. Learn a language
More languages equal more opportunities, it’s as simple as that. Just think about how much more international our world has become and how important it is to be able to communicate with people from all over the world. Language skills are important for your future career, but it isn’t just a matter of mastering words and grammar, it’s just as important to expand your horizons through language and get to know new cultures and people. Besides – learning a language is fun, especially if you go abroad to study it.
Another great way to expand your horizons and gain a deeper appreciation of a country and its people is to sign up for a volunteering project in another country. Leaving friends and family behind will probably be one of the hardest things you will do, but it will probably turn out to be the most rewarding experience you’ve ever had. You’ll get to know a new world, a new way of life, perhaps, and do some good in the process. You’ll also grow up and mature in ways you didn’t think was possible until now. Volunteering projects can include anything from working on a vegetable farm in Argentina teaching people about organic farming, to working alongside the president of a Mexican NGO gaining experience in sustainability.
5. Do something you’ve never done before
“If you want the things you’ve never had, then you have to do the things you’ve never done.” This might be the perfect time to crawl out of your comfort zone and realize some of your biggest dreams. It takes a lot of courage to think outside the box and go about life in a completely new way, but it’s what needs to be done in order to develop and become the person you’ve always wanted to become. Always dreamed of a trip around the world or an InterRail trip around Europe? Spend this summer or this coming year working and saving up and then just hit the road.