Trying to make a university decision at only eighteen years old is difficult — even more difficult if you don’t know what you want to do yet (and if you do, chances are it will change). The popularity of bridge years — also known as gap years — is growing amongst high school seniors.
Fortunately, Global Citizen Year offers a remarkable program where you can spend a full seven months immersed in another culture and language. If you’re considering a year abroad, here are 10 reasons a bridge year might just be for you!
01. You Want to Learn in the Real World
You’ve just spent more than half of your life in a classroom where you were probably talked at, not talked to. Going abroad will turn the world into your classroom and everyone you meet will become your teacher. You will be able to engage and experience things first-hand that you’ve learned about from your desk, just a year ago.
02. You Want to Become Fluent in a New Language
Those four years of language class have done very little for you — the real way to learn a language is to be immersed in it. Want to become fluent in a new language… or three? Go abroad. Speak to your host community in their native tongue.
03. You Want to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Bridge years push you to an extent you’ve probably never experienced before. But they push you into a healthy stretch zone where you grow as a person and come out much more confident and brave than you were before. When you return home, you will be much more comfortable with the uncomfortable.
04. You Want a Second Home and Family
During your bridge year you will create deep relationships in your new homestay. That family will love and cherish you as their own, and you will likewise cherish and love them. You may even find your new home in a place you never even knew existed.
05. You Are Hankering for Some Action
Life can get become a bit static and repetitive after long enough. Living in a new country presents a whole new world of exploration. Maybe you stumble upon a hidden place, or hangout with your new local friends at their favorite spot. Maybe you participate in an activity that doesn’t exist in the States. The posibilites are endless.
06. You Want to Take a Step Back
Education and daily life in your home country can often leave you feeling behind and exhausted, no matter what you do. Though your days may be filled with new sights and new people, you won’t have the constant GO as you might have back home. In your new host country you will have time to breathe and take the time to yourself.
07. You Want to Expand Your Worldview
It’s not possible to live in a new environment and know nothing about it. By talking to people you will likely learn about the local and national government, and probably issues of surrounding countries. Understanding problems on a global level will make you more cognizant citizen of your home and host community.
08. You Want to Make an Impact
I don’t mean a service impact where you stumble into a community, “solve” a problem that doesn’t need solving, and leave. I mean establishing relationships with those in your host community and leaving an impact in the hearts of those you have crossed paths with.
09. You Want to Diverge from the Usual Path
Take a second and think about this: how many of your friends went straight to college without a second thought? That is not by any means a negative thing, but higher education just seems to be the automatic next step that everyone follows again and again. Elementary education, secondary education, higher education, career. Nothing new. Taking a bridge year will take you away from that path and may change your future plans altogether.
10. You Want to Learn About Yourself
There are so many things you’ll have the opportunity to try on a bridge year that you would never be able to try elsewhere. Being in an entirely different environment tests you, so it is likely that during your year your strengths and weaknesses will become evident to you.
My driving reasons for taking a bridge year have changed since I arrived, but the reasons above are certainly things I can attest to. There are countless reasons to taking a year abroad with Global Citizen Year that will benefit you immediately and for years to come.