Five reasons you should take a gap year after uni

July 06, 2015
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If you’re in the final year of your degree, you’re probably looking ahead to what’s in store for your future career, and questions might be bouncing around in your ahead about where you’re heading.

But do you really have to enter the workforce straight away? Or is this a chance to take some time out from serious study and work, and explore a little more of the world?

I took a gap year before entering university, and it gave me a great chance to experience different cultures and recharge my study batteries. And the same can be applied before you start climbing the career ladder – there are many benefits to be found by taking a much-needed year off.

Take a break

Many uni students have been in and around classrooms since kindergarten. Your breaks from studying have simply been the end of year and mid-semester breaks, and you’re probably using this time to work and fit in as much socialising as possible before you jump back into worrying about exams and assessments. But taking a gap year gives you the chance to properly step away from constantly thinking about your next assignment and enjoy some time off to refresh your mind. Come the end of high school I was completely burnt-out, and I found my gap year allowed me to feel a lot more committed to uni once I began my degree.

Experience a different culture

Sure, you’ve done a Contiki trip to Europe during one of your mid-semester breaks and bounced around from country to country, but have you considered settling somewhere for six to 12 months and trying to live like a local? It’s possibly one of the most eye-opening experiences you’ll ever have. During my gap year I lived in Malta with family, took up a casual job, and did as the locals did. I also used Malta as a base and travelled to a couple of countries around Europe.

Tick a few things off your bucket list

At this stage of your life your bucket list is probably as long as your arm, and you’re wondering when you’ll get the time to do most of it. But a gap year presents the perfect opportunity to tick a few things off the list. You’ve got time on your hands, and if you’ve planned well in advance, you’ve got the money to do it as well. I was able to tick off watching the Tour de France live, going to a Liverpool game at Anfield, and riding in a hot air balloon.

Understand yourself a little better

You’ve dragged yourself through more than three years of university, but do you still know if your chosen career is what you truly want to do?

A gap year can provide some time for personal reflection. You can treat it as a chance to review what you’ve already done in life and start to look forward to the future. Living overseas - removed from your close-knit friendship groups and fitting into a different routine - can often give you extra self-confidence once you realise you can take care of yourself. Whilst I was living with family in Malta, I ended up spending close to two months away from them, usually just with my brother and sometimes even on my own. It gave me a terrific chance to build up my confidence and feel more comfortable in my own skin.

Step outside your comfort zone

Take a chance and do something you wouldn’t normally do; travelling gives you a chance to try new things. Whether it’s new food, a new lifestyle or a new activity, try something completely different. On my gap year, I took up scuba diving - Europe is full of great dive spots and is a real diving hub in summer. Stepping outside your comfort zone can massively contribute to how much you enjoy your trip and create unforgettable memories.

Elliott Richardson

Elliott is a second year Communications student at UWS who enjoys far too much sport and thinking up overseas trips he doesn't have the money for.

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