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.