You have a year of school left and are lost about what you should do with your life. You are not alone. A survey conducted by OnePoll for Colorado State University Global, looked at 2,000 adults and how they felt about entering the responsible life of adulthood.
According to the data, 34% of respondents didn’t have a plan, while 41% didn’t even have a job lined up. Meanwhile, 17% who attended college said they had no plans after senior year.
I was a part of this statistic and decided to move abroad to Busan, South Korea. After 2 and half years, I met my girlfriend and recently moved to Valencia, Spain. My gap year has turned into a new lifestyle, but you don’t need to follow suit. Only 1 year abroad can be life-changing.
What is a Gap Year
A gap year has been traditionally done after high school and before college but lucky for you it is still very doable. A gap year can be backpacking Europe, completing missionary work in South America, working on a farm in Australia, teaching English in Asia, and so on.
The important thing is to challenge yourself emotionally, physically, mentally, and intellectually. A gap year should not be an extension of college—fast food, drunk shenanigans, binging Netflix, and spring break resorts. This is a time for exploration, vulnerability, networking, soul searching, and learning. It is a time to get uncomfortable and be on your own. There are no parents, no professors, no deadlines, and no obligations. There is just you.
4 Reasons To Take a Gap Year Abroad After College
You just spent 4 years writing papers, going to group project meetings, and studying for exams. Your gap year can be filled with different experiences. These experiences will help you figure out what you like and don't like—personally and professionally. You can get an idea of your goals and passions, and how to achieve them. This will help you come back home with a sense of direction for your life.
Yes, college is a time of independence, but you are still chained to your parents and family in a way. They are a phone call or drive away to help you with any problem. As mentioned, a gap year is a time when you are on your own and because of that, you will grow up a little bit.
-To Learn a Foreign Language
A year abroad is enough time to speak a foreign language at an intermediate level. If you are a language wizard, you could become fluent if you are fully immersed in the language for the year. Knowing a foreign language is a skill that you will have for the rest of your life. As the world becomes more globalized, employers will find this skill attractive.
-There are not going to be many opportunities for it in the future.
No kids, no mortgage, and no job, you are the freest you ever will be. Even if you have student loans, you probably will have a six-month grace period in which you won’t have to make any payments. Take full advantage of this freedom while supplies last.
How to Take a Gap Year Abroad
There are hundreds of ways of doing a gap year, and none are right or wrong. The best gap year consists of fun and learning a skill. Sandwich these two things together and you will come back to the States with a leg up on everyone else.
This is the easiest way to take a gap year if you are looking to make some money. 3 years later, my travels are funded by teaching English as a Secondary Language (ESL). Most countries require a college degree and in return, offer enough money to fuel your travel. It is a great way to meet other people and get insight into the culture as you will be teaching locals.
Workaway is a website that connects travelers to hosts. In my opinion, the $50 annual membership fee is worth it because it connects you to legitimate hosts and saves you hours of research. I used it when I first thought about going abroad and actually did receive messages from hosts. If you are open to odd jobs in exchange for food and housing, this is the place for you. You can learn several different skills this way and build your network.
Do you like to serve others and give back? If so, the Peace Corps is the right place for you. Some people think this work only includes building water wells in South America or farming in Africa, but it’s not true. The Peace Corps has several programs ranging from teaching English in Paraguay to helping local entrepreneurs develop their business skills in Colombia. Future Employers will be impressed with your service, and you will gain a greater appreciation for your home life.
-Working Holiday Visa.
A Working Holiday Visa sounds exactly like what it is. It is a visa that grants you the ability to get a job in a foreign country. Americans can get a Working Holiday Visa in South Korea, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Singapore. However, the easiest countries for young adults are New Zealand and Australia. This is because they are the most popular and have simple requirements. Under this visa, you will work in bars, cafes, restaurants, or tourism most likely. The pay is not bad and will allow you to explore the country and meet new friends along the way. You will come back with great stories to your friends and future employers.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to a gap year. The only thing that matters is that you pick something that generates growth, development, and some good stories. You are only in your 20s once and taking a gap year is a great way to use it.