I think a gap year is a great idea… if you have the money. You have to take an entire year out and funding that year isn’t going to be the easiest job in the world, so why not go about it another way? I’ve got a few alternatives for you!
BY EMILY JONES
I chose a university and a course which ran the Erasmus programme, and I made sure I could go abroad during my three years at uni. Even if I had the money for a gap year, I would come back to the UK and then have to sit through three years of working towards a degree. So instead, I broke up my time at uni with a semester abroad in the second half of my second year. I had the best five months of my life and not only did I get to live somewhere sunny, but I also got paid to do it! With Erasmus, you get funding to go abroad and it usually works out around 250 euros a month.
Of course you can also do a full year, which is what my best friend did. She would tell you that it was the best year of her life, but the fact that she’s come back and now has two more years of uni instead of one like me is starting to get her down. On the plus side, she got a full year in Spain, essentially a paid gap year with a bit of university work. She does have another years worth of university debt though.
I would 100% recommend studying abroad for a term, you can travel and find yourself if that’s what you want to do. Plus, you get free money from the government, what’s not to like?
Through the Erasmus programme, you can do an internship instead of or as well as studying abroad. If you find a university that runs the Erasmus programme you can travel with money from the government for up to 12 months. I was away for 5 months last year, so when I finish university I will be taking the opportunity to do a 7-month internship abroad (and the Erasmus grant is more for an internship, hello 350 euros a month).
Internships are great because usually you get some money from the internship as well, that and the work experience for your CV. You don’t need to go through Erasmus to get an internship abroad, there are lots of websites, which you can use to find the best internship for you. I use Erasmusintern.org and Spain-intership.com but just type into Google internship and the country you want to go to.
When you walk into a job interview a few years from now, saying you spent a year travelling the world doesn’t actually mean much to an employer, but saying you spent 6 months doing an internship abroad, gaining work experience, it might just give you the leg up you need.
While doing a gap year might not be the right choice for you, you can also find a way of going abroad that is not only cheaper but actually adds value to your CV.
You might have heard of TEFL, but if not it stands for: Teaching English as a Foreign Language. You can get this qualification anywhere in the UK, either online or as a part of a longer course. With it you can head off to another country and find a job teaching English fairly easily. I have an uncle running a language school out in Spain, he suggests that with a TEFL or a CELTA you can easily find a job teaching English in sunny Spain. China is also a big one, you can get paid to take a TEFL course and then go teach in China. Anyone who speaks English as his or her first language can do a TEFL. This way you would have a paid job and get to travel.
So there are lots of ways to live abroad and travel without completely emptying your bank account. Do a little bit of research before taking a year out, and maybe you’ll find cheaper options which can boost your CV at the same time.