There are many different ways for young people to take a break from the classroom to learn, grow, travel, and explore the world. Two such ways that students do this are through gap years and gap semesters.
What is a Gap Semester and How is it Different from a Gap Year?
The main difference between a gap semester and a gap year is the amount of time that you spend on your journey abroad. A gap semester is typically much shorter than a gap year.
Gap semester programs are typically less expensive than gap year programs due to their shorter duration. In addition, a gap semester can often offer more flexibility than a gap year. Gap semesters tend to be more customizable with different experiences throughout your time away from school. This saves you from committing to a full year away from your studies and allows you to allocate more time to work, save money, volunteer, and travel.
Who Typically Takes a Gap Semester?
Young people who just graduated highschool and are looking for a learning experience outside of the classroom are great candidates for gap semesters. Students pursuing their undergraduate degree also look into gap semesters to find opportunities for individual growth and self discovery outside of a regular curriculum.
Should I Take a Gap Semester?
If you are looking for an exciting and life changing experience, but don’t want to commit to a full year away from home or school, you should definitely consider taking a gap semester.
A gap semester is a great opportunity for you to immerse yourself in a new culture, master a new language, advocate for a worthy cause, explore your interests, and gain a global perspective.
Global Citizen Year’s Take Action Lab is a gap semester program that provides young people with the opportunity to explore a new culture, learn likelong skills through apprenticeships within the community, and make a positive impact on the world!
What if I’m Not Ready for a Gap Semester?
If you are interested in making global connections, but don’t feel ready to take the plunge into a gap semester program or don’t feel like a gap semester is the right fit for you, don’t you worry! While there is no real substitute for traveling abroad, immersing yourself in a new culture, and making in-person connections with global communities, there are a few things that you can do to start building connections worldwide.
Use Social Media
We live in an era where we are now able to communicate with each other across countries, continents — and even languages. And we can do so instantly, without ever leaving our homes. This allows you to connect with other people regardless of your respective places of residence. Your level of communication depends on what you feel comfortable with. You might be a casual user who follows a few popular travel accounts to view photos, ‘meet’ people, learn facts and read articles; or maybe you choose to get more involved in a specific online community and meet and talk to people that way. It’s really up to you!
Find a Penpal
Perhaps a more personal way to connect with people around the world would be to find a penpal. Whether this means email or traditional handwritten letters, the long-form style allows for you each to share your stories more comprehensively. You might find a penpal through someone you have previously met while traveling, on social media, or through an online service. This can be a great option for kids, and even better if you can organize it through your school.
Learn a Language
Another way to interact with people around the world, is to learn a new language. Learning a language can make it easier to speak to people from other countries and connect to other cultures, even from afar.
Teach your first language as a second language
Similarly, signing up to teach English online or in-person can also be a great way to connect with other people from different countries and cultures. You will probably have to get certified first, but there are plenty of online services that allow you to see the faces of people you teach, and vice versa.
Take a Gap Year
Of course, the best way to interact with people around the world is to actually go out and meet them! And if you are new to travel, you may not know the best way to do something like this. That is where something like a gap year program can help you out. By providing you with the means to have a fully immersive experience in another country, a gap year allows you to not only interact with other cultures, but to learn from each other in a fun and sometimes life-changing way.
Rather than simply learning about other countries in history or geography classes, why not go out and experience them for real? Traveling is the best way to experience new cultures and connect with people from around the world. The learning possibilities are endless when you are able to immerse yourself in a new culture. This opportunity will allow you to develop cross cultural skills, expand your mind, and possibly practice a new language. Look into where you might want to go for your gap year and start expanding your horizons in no time.
HEAR FROM GAP YEAR STUDENTS AND PARENTS
Fellow / Senegal
— Elise Leise
In a world filled with complex global challenges, I hope to be part of a generation that refuses to give up so easily.…
Fellow / Senegal
New Continent, New Family
— Erik Oline
I turned around to the open arms of my host family (yes, all 23 of them)! The family farm is a little slice of heaven……
Parent / Brazil
Maturity & Perspective
— Shih-Hung Shieh
The Fellows mature into intelligent, compassionate, cosmopolitan citizens of the world, able to converse about global issues……
Fellow / Ecuador
Why I Came to Ecuador
— Henry Yeary
I wanted the world to slap me silly, sweep me up like a tornado and crash me down. I needed to live.…
Fellow / India
This is How I Will Save the World
— Indi Nunez
The world does not need us to save it; it needs us to understand it. Perhaps to help is not to give after all, but rather to empower……
Parent / Senegal
Real World Skills
— Pam Ricker (Jordan Ricker)
I am so glad my son has had this experience. It has given him more than the acquisition of two new languages……