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Taking a Gap Year Abroad

Taking a gap year abroad can be a big decision but one with endless possibilities for growth, experience, and cultural exploration. There are some important questions to consider when planning your gap year.

What is a Gap Year?

A gap year can be taken at anytime but it is most commonly taken after high school and before university. It is also becoming increasingly popular for students to take time off after university and before beginning a career.

For recent graduates, a gap year abroad after finishing university is an opportunity to travel, explore different cultures, contribute to sustainable development, and enrich themselves before starting a job. This is also a potential option for graduates progressing to postgraduate studies and pre-med students applying to medical school, giving them an opportunity to gain experience and skills outside the classroom between programs.  

Gap year programs can be done over a full year, a semester, or even just a month or two. You can spend your entire gap year abroad or part of your time overseas and part at home.

What can I do during my Gap Year abroad?

Volunteer takes part in a Care Project in Togo on her gap year abroad.

We offer a specialized Global Gap Year Program. This project is designed specifically for individuals taking a gap year after high school and before university. The program runs on roughly the same schedule as a school year (Sept-May). Volunteers on the gap year program travel to 5 different countries as a group and take part in many different projects like child care work, building, English teaching, environmental conservation, and more.

We also have year round programs that allow gap year volunteers to create their own, customized gap year experience involving the specific countries, projects, and dates that they would like. We work in over 25 different countries and we offer hundreds of different programs. You can participate in all kinds of work and help improve the standard of living for adults, children, and even animals in many different countries. The ideas are endless!

Is a Gap Year Abroad right for me?

It's important to make sure that an international gap year program is the best fit for you. We've worked with volunteers taking a gap year for any number of reasons. Many of our gap year volunteers:

  • Have deferred their university acceptance to experience something new
  • Are burned out with classes and need a break before university
  • Plan to reapply for university after gaining skills abroad (for those that may not have been accepted into their preferred university or haven't decided on what to study yet)

There are hundreds of other reasons why you might take a gap year abroad.

How will a Gap Year benefit me in the future?

Projects Abroad volunteers do community work on their gap year abroad.

International Experience: We believe that cultural exchange is a two way street. As a gap year volunteer, you will provide beneficial aid and services to your chosen community but will also gain new, worldly insight by interacting with our staff, host families, other volunteers, and local people. This real-world experience goes beyond any textbook and will help you stand out from the crowd in university.

Academic/Career Experience: You might choose to take part in an internship in Medicine, Law and Human Rights, Business, etc. during your gap year. In addition to the cross-cultural experience that you'll gain abroad, you'll also be developing valuable professional skills that you can use for a future degree or career.

Language Experience: Gap year volunteers often use their time abroad as a way to improve their language skills. Aside from the language skills you'll pick up just speaking with local people, we also offer Language Courses in almost all of our destinations.

Life-long Friends: We send 10,000 volunteers abroad from all over the world. Our volunteers come from around the world, more than 40 different countries to date. Most gap year volunteers sign up as individuals and become part of an on-going volunteer community in country. While your peers back home are trying to find their place in university, you'll be exploring the world with a group of international, like-minded volunteers.

How can I start my Gap Year abroad?

There is a lot of planning that goes in to arranging a gap year abroad. Luckily, we're here to help.

If you are thinking of joining our Global Gap Year, you can start by looking through the schedule, viewing a previous Global Gap webinar, and reading volunteer stories from former Global Gap volunteers.

If you are planning on arranging a customized international gap year, you can start by looking through our destinations and projects

Fundraising is an important aspect of planning your gap year abroad and we have a fundraising guide available to all of our volunteers. In addition, Projects Abroad also offers budget options and tips for students looking to make their gap year abroad a reality.

Feel free to contact our staff with your gap year ideas. Many of us have taken one ourselves, we are happy to help you get started!

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