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Gap Years - What They Are and Why You Should Take One
A gap year is an extended period of time away from a normal work or school schedule. It can be only a few months long, or several years, but no matter how long it takes, it centres around the idea of taking a break and finally crossing off some things from your "to do before I die" list. Some people decide to backpack around Europe, others spend their time volunteering, and still others spend the time writing the world's next bestselling novel. Gap years are most popular with people who are in between major stages in their lives – high school or college graduates, people changing careers, or people just starting a new family. However, anybody can take a gap year so long as they have a desire to see the world, to help out or just to take some serious time for bettering themselves.
There are many programs that are tailored for people taking a gap year. Do an internet search for "gap year" and you'll find several websites with programs set up to help you make the most of your year. These programs are great for people traveling alone, couples and even families. Many of these programs focus around volunteer work. These volunteer opportunities can include helping out at a panda conservation program in China, teaching English to Buddhist monks in Nepal, or working with underprivileged children in Africa. Many of these volunteer programs have some type of fee which often include costs of housing and food.
Many other people work during their gap years. There are many programs easily found online to help you find work and housing in different countries in different parts of the world. This option is great for people who don't have a plethora of savings or a job lined up for when they return home.
So, why take a gap year? Experience. Admissions boards at universities and hiring staff at potential employer's offices will know that the time you spent bettering yourself was time spent making you into a better student or worker. But more than helping you get ahead academically or professionally, gap years are about bettering yourself for your own sake. The experiences you gain will give you new perspectives on life and the time you take for yourself will help you realize who you are and who you're becoming. Gap years are more than just vacations. They're about getting out of the office, experiencing the world and getting to know yourself a little better in the process.