Happy Friday! This week, Squad 1 is off the grid trekking the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India. Before taking off on this adventure, the students got a course in disaster medicine from the Hanifl Centre. Last week, Squad 2 went through this course, so we’re excited to share photos from their experience. Check out the gorgeous mountain views and examples of life-saving techniques!
Meanwhile, we’re thrilled that, for the first time ever, our students are in Rwanda! Squad 3 is onto the Africa portion of their gap year; after Rwanda, they’re headed to South Africa. For now, the students are living in homestays and exploring the culture of Kigali through artisan skills like cooking and baking, dance, and farming. Stay tuned to keep up with their adventures!
Taking some time for yourself before you go from one education institution to another can be a truly life-changing experience. This can be the time when you do what you enjoy, meet new people, and get a whole new perspective of the world.
What troubles most gap year students is whether they will lose the habit of learning. To prevent that from happening and keep your brain absorbing new information, you should keep learning even on your gap year.
However, that doesn’t mean that you have to be locked in your room for hours each day. It just means that you should find ways that will provide you with learning experience on your gap year. Here are some tips that can help you out.
1. Use learning apps
There are so many learning apps that are both educational and engaging. Since most of us are already glued to our phones, why not use this to our advantage? Think about a skill that you would want to work on. Do you want to learn a new language? Or do you want to improve your writing skills? Whatever it is, there is an app for it. Once you decide on what you want to focus on, research the best apps for that purpose and pick your favorite. This learning habit won’t be demanding because educational apps are usually designed to be entertaining as well.
2. Read at least one book a week
Books are an endless source of information that can take you into a parallel universe. Give yourself the assignment to read a new book every week. If one book a week isn’t suitable for you, set your own time limit. It is important that you give yourself a certain amount of time per book because that will motivate you to read as often as you can. For some suggestions, check out this list of popular gap year books on GoodReads.
3. Get outside of your comfort zone
A growing experience truly starts when you get outside of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself to learn something completely new. You can learn how to play the guitar, go to a cooking class, or try a new sport. Even if it’s unlike you and it turns out that you aren’t cut out for it, the fact that you were daring enough to give it a try will be satisfactory.
4. Volunteer or attend events
Attending events can provide you with interactive learning. Google and social media can get you all the information you need about upcoming events near you. Go to an industry-specific mixer, hear out a guest lecturer, attend a conference, or go to a music festival. If you want to take it one step further, you can apply to volunteer at some events. “Volunteering was my main occupation during the gap year. Whenever I saw an interesting event near me, I applied to volunteer. That was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. Aside from many practical skills that I’ve adopted, I learned how to be better at organization and managing,” shares Kristin Savage, a freelance writer at Studicus and FlyWriting.
5. Find an internship
The best way to prepare yourself for your future dream job is to do real-life work. This year can be your chance to gather some valuable work experience. What employers value most is practical knowledge and that is what you can get with an internship. Internships can also be a great opportunity to test out your dreams. Maybe you have plans to work in a specific niche but you’ll never know whether that job really agrees with you until you give it a try.
If traveling wasn’t already on your gap year to-do list, add it right now. You don’t need to go backpacking through Europe or visit exotic countries around the world but you should organize a trip to a new place. Traveling broadens your mindset and helps you learn about that country, city, or place through experience. This can be a win-win situation. Visit some places that are on your bucket list and learn everything you can about it along the way.
7. Combine a job and a hobby
Do you like to ski? Or dive? Or maybe you are proficient in a second language? Perfect your current hobbies by finding a job that will revolve around it. For example, if you are a talented painter you can hold lessons (in person or online). In this way, you’ll further mold your talent and earn some money. “During high school, I was really good in Spanish and I even learned it in my free time. I used my gap year to work as an au pair in Spain. It helped me to work on my speaking skills and I met some great friends who I’m still in touch to this day,” says Estelle Leotard, a blogger and translator at IsAccurate about her gap year experience.
8. Take online courses
With the variety of online courses, it would be a shame not to take advantage of it. Whether you want to perfect your current knowledge, prepare yourself for college, or learn something completely new, online courses got you covered. There are some popular and reliable platforms such as Udemy or Skillshare that can offer you whatever you need. The best part is that you can adjust the learning schedule based on your preferences and plans.
9. Become a part of the program
Connecting with like-minded people will give you the motivation to embrace learning new skills. Not to mention that it will make the whole process easier. What will help you to combine fun and learning is if you become a part of a gap year program. Programs such as Winterline can teach you anything you want to know from outdoor skills over leadership skills to technical skills. The program focuses on teaching you practical and applicable skills while you are having fun with other students.
10. Keep a learning journal
Make your memories and learning experiences permanent by writing a learning journal. No matter what type of information you have attained, write it down. It can be a new skill you have learned, or interesting facts about a certain city or country, or just a new perspective on the world that someone pointed out. By writing it all down, you can always look back and remind yourself what type of value your gap year has provided you with.
A gap year can be filled with memorable and valuable experiences that can transform your life. The choices are many, but it is up to you to decide which direction you want to take. The most important part is that you listen to your needs and wishes and adapt your learning accordingly. Don’t forget that fun should be essential in your learning experience on your gap year.
“Yes! I love the freedom of choice that we had with food and entertainment. And of course, I enjoyed every single bite of Asian food that I was finally able to eat.” -Sherly
“Definitely, the city is incredible in that it’s an international hub and it combines fun urbanlife with Latin American culture” -Casey
“It was satisfying being in an urban environment after being in two remote locations in Costa Rica, just enjoying the city life and the different culture” -Pablo
What was the most meaningful experience you had in Panama City?
“The combination of learning business in the Business Hub of Central America, contributing to the Miraflores neighborhood through urban innovation work, and experiencing the beautiful nature with the Parara Puru Indigenous community; the diversity of our experiences is what made it a meaningful trip in Panama.”-Sherly
“While looking for my friend I needed wifi and these two guys that owned a bar helped me out and bought me a beer, we ended up talking for almost two hours and really forming a connection” -Casey
“San Blas. Getting to see San Blas, it’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit, I enjoyed the beauty of the islands and getting a chance to really relax with my best friends” -Pablo
What did you learn during our time there?
“Happiness truly comes in different forms; the urban innovation team found it by contributing to the community, the indigenous people found it by living in nature, and me, spending my birthday on the beautiful islands of San Blas.” -Sherly
“I learned different skills, the first being how to be an entrepreneur, making our own start up company. After that, I learned about the concept of urban innovation and how much of an impact it has on a community. And finally, how beautiful this country really is.” -Pablo
Our three squads are spread across three different countries this week, and they’re each practicing different skills. Squad 1 is nearing the end of their time in Cambodia, where they took a class in bicycle maintenance before riding to Angkor Wat. They also took a class at Phare Circus School, then split up to pursue advanced skills. Our students had a choice between a 5-day meditation retreat, bicycle touring in Battambang, or getting an Advanced Open Water SCUBA certified off the coast.
Meanwhile, Squad 2 is in Nan, Thailand, where they learned the sport of Muay Thai boxing! The students also got to practice weaving and pottery, and spent some free time exploring the beauty of the countryside. Finally, Squad 3 is in Northern India, where they’ll be trekking the foothills of the Himalayas. Before taking off on this adventure, the students are getting a course in disaster medicine from the Hanifl Centre. It sure has been a busy and exciting week: see for yourself through the eyes (and photos) of our students!
Young business entrepreneurs of the future, rejoice, for Winterline will not deprive you of the knowledge and experience you seek. During your time staying in Panama City, you will participate in a week-long business course offered by a host of amazing and intelligent teachers. This portion of the trip was entitled “Business Boot Camp” and was perhaps the most practical and applicable of all the skills learned in trimester 1.
The course consisted of four days of exploring the inner workings of the economy, of how businesses utilize markets to their advantages, how businesses grow. We discussed supply and demand, we learned how to read annual monetary projections, we picked apart why some businesses fail and why others succeed, and we compared and contrasted the perks of leading large companies such as Amazon and Netflix.
After four days of learning business basics, we had three days of small group business creation; teams of three to four were tasked with thinking of a business idea, and then fleshing it out to the point of pitching it to a panel of judges, posing as investors, in order to see which team had the best and most feasible overall plan. Originally expecting this not to be too difficult having just spent many hours learning exactly how other businesses complete this very same process, we soon learned this would be no easy task. Not only is an original idea in and of itself difficult to come up with, but including monetary concerns (incomes and expenditures), creative differences within groups, and finding the best way to present these ideas in order to gain funding was harder to manage than it initially seemed.
I think by the end of the week, we all gained a greater appreciation for many big businesses out there when evaluating their success. However, this task was also very fun. The competition aspect gave everyone a motivation to overcome the issues we encountered, and hearing the visions of each of our companies from group to group, and even within our groups themselves, was interesting and eye opening. The time to present came in a flash, the hours passed by like minutes, having worked so hard and so intently. While everyone was nervous due to the professional nature and atmosphere of the presentation, the judges claimed time and again how impressed they were by the zeal and hard work of each student, despite us only having one week of experience prior.
To sum up business boot camp in one word, I would choose “rewarding.” The work was hard, but this final presentation made up for all the hangups along the way. Through these business pitches we gained presentation skills and came to understand each other better, as well as how to trust each other better in a professional setting. We learned about delegating roles that were suited to each of our individual strengths, and discovered new strengths we didn’t previously know we had. I have never seriously considered a business career before, but business boot camp in Panama City has definitely gotten me thinking.
This week, our students have been taking in the jaw-dropping beauty of the Taj Mahal and the grandiosity of the Angkor Wat temple complex. But they’ve been learning, too: creating marble inlays and vision boards, practicing advanced scuba diving, and cooking up a storm. The diversity of skills and culture across Southeast Asia and India are sure to be lifechanging for our students – see for yourself!
Are you ready to #explorethegapyear? Every year, more and more students are considering and taking gap years before entering into college or their career path. We believe that the life experience, skills learning, and cultural growth students explore during this time set them up for a successful adulthood ahead. While we could talk about this every day, Gap Year Exploration Month was created to help students, parents, families, and counselors, discover the incredible opportunities that lie within a gap year.
So why should you consider a gap year? How do you know if a gap year is right for you? How do you know which gap year is right for you? These are all great questions!
The next step is to find the right program for you. To ensure that every student ends up in the program that fits them, you have to explore your gap year options. We believe wholeheartedly in our program, and so do many others – Winterline was recognized as one of the Top Rated Gap Year Programs of 2019! But Winterline is just one of the many gap year opportunities available. You can use #explorethegapyear on social media to find information, and find program reviews on sites like GoAbroad and GoOverseas.
A good travel blogger transports you to the places they are seeing and experiencing; they make you want to go there yourself. So how do you do that?
1. Use an easy-to-use blogging platform.
Although there are a plethora of blogging platforms out there, these are three of the most recommended options available: WordPress.org, Wix.com, and Blogger.com. All three offer simple templates and make it easy to post content and pictures even while using your mobile device. They are perfect for any blogging novice to get set up and running immediately.
2. Use descriptive words to paint a picture.
Composing engaging entries remain the cornerstone of good travel blogs, according to Cameron Wears, of the husband-and-wife blogging team Traveling Canucks (travelingcanucks.com). “The most important thing is to entertain your readers and always share something informative, but interesting. The Internet is overloaded with information and people have enough on their daily agenda, so your posts should be fun,” he says.
Don’t hesitate to add some passion and emotion, along with your humor. Think of a good movie: if you laugh and cry, it’s usually one you want to watch again or share with your family and friends.
3. Use picturesque and inspirational photos and videos.
The saying, “pictures paint a thousand words” is so, so, so true. Words paint the picture, but photos bring the experience to life. Images play such a key role in creating a successful travel blog, but they have to be the right pictures.
Keep in mind that your “visual content” should be more than just typical travel photos of buildings, scenery, or people posing for the camera in a group. Take the time to compose a photo library that includes candids, observations, people currently living in their environment.
Capture the emotions, excitement, and passion of not only the people surrounding you, but also of yourself. This helps bring personality to your blog. Adding quality videos are great, too.
4. Make it personal.
You will come into contact with people, occurrences and images that aren’t always positive and uplifting. You should write about your own reactions to the places you visit and the people you meet. People respond to honest posts; posts that divulge your feelings about the places you visit. There are countless travel blogs out there, and what sets them apart are the individual experiences you have.
5. Interview people you have met.
One of the best ways to get to know a new place is by talking to the people who live there. Hear their stories, take their recommendations, learn what they can tell you that a tourist brochure can’t. And then, pass on their wisdom to your readers.
6. Post regularly and share on social media.
It’s not always enough to just post when you feel like it. You should try to keep a regular schedule to keep your reader’s interest. And always share your posts on social media to expand readership. If you don’t think you have time to blog, you can always just share extra pictures. More content means more connections. Always strive to grow your audience and drive traffic to your blog.
7. Post to promote the program.
If you love your program, you’ll want other potential students and parents to participate in and to see the importance of what you’re doing. So tell them about it! Write about what your program is like: the schedule, the locations, the activities, the instructors. Share what you learned, what you enjoyed, and what you wish you would have known before embarking on your adventure.
Being a travel blogger is one of the best ways to chronicle and share your study abroad trip or gap year experience with your friends and family with the added bonus of gaining blogging experience and continued readership. So, get typing!
Interested in blogging about your journey, but not ready to create a whole site? We’re always looking for guest bloggers! Submit your proposal to email@example.com for a chance to be featured on the Winterline blog.