Ahh, Gap years, that great place to be after 13 years of education. But what to do? Where to go? What's the sign on the lollipop?
Many students decide to volunteer overseas, in countries such as Ghana, China and India. This enriches the lives of those they meet and themselves. Be warned though, it's expensive. Around £20001 for a month or two. Not easy when you're a student without a penny to your name.
Another option is a 'year in industry'. In other words, a year working, if you're lucky in the area of work you want to go into. Some companies, such as IBM and PriceWaterhouseCoopers offer gap year programmes to those little treasures2. However, places are limited and competition is tough.
A particular favourite of gap yearers3 is to work abroad. For those that decide to take this path to the dark side, there are two options. Either:
- Get a job and sponsership for the visa through a company like BUNAC or...
- Go to the country of your choice and get the job. For those that live in the EU it is fairly easy to just upsticks and re-locate to another EU country as no visa is required, but if you wanted to work in Canada, the US or Australia, it can be tricky. This is because the Governments require proof of funds (in some cases £1000) and often a sponser.
The all-time classic way of spending a gap year, though, is to backpack, usually through Australasia. For this, the Australian and New Zealand Governments offer a 'Working Holiday Visa'. This has the advantage of letting the little treasures see more of the world and work whilst at it. Remember, quite a few of the species in Australasia can only be found in Australasia, so it allows them to go 'ohh' and 'ahh' in silly voices for a whole year, which is always good.
Let's hope that after reading this entry, you know a little more about gap years. If not... then I'm sorry.