UK University Search recently caught up with BUNAC, the long-established volunteer and working abroad experts, to get the low-down on how to have the best gap year ever. Here’s their invaluable advice:
7 Top Tips On How To Get The Most Out Of Your Gap Year
Here at BUNAC, we talk a lot about travelling on your gap year; in fact you could say that we’re slightly obsessed by it. The possibilities are endless, whether you want to volunteer with endangered animals in one of the world’s largest national parks or boost your CV and fund your travels with a paid job in Oz or New Zealand. We believe that these experiences can change people and create memories that will last a lifetime. To get the most out of your gap year, you need to embrace it fully and not be scared to take a leap into the unknown. Since we’re the gap year experts, here’s some advice to make sure your travel experience is a truly memorable and successful one.
1. See and do as much as you can.
After you’ve finally plucked up the courage to set off on your gap year adventure, it’s vital that you try to see and do as much as possible. These opportunities don’t come by often, so you should make the most of your time by sampling as many new experiences as you can.
2. Think of the bigger picture
As much as you’ll be having an amazing time living and working in a new country and meeting new people, you will get homesick. Missing friends and family back home is part of the deal and it’s perfectly normal to feel like you want to pack it all in and jump on the next flight home. At this point, it’s important to think of the bigger picture - those feelings will pass and you will be heading back to Blighty all too soon. Just think of all the stories you’ll be able to tell when you’re reunited with home!
3. Be sociable
The best way to enjoy your gap year is by doing it with others. Even if you bring friends with you, it’s important to make new ones. Many people you meet on your travels will be doing exactly the same as you, so there’s a great chance that you could end up mates for life. It’s an amazing feeling to come back and be able to say that you have friends all around the globe.
4. Respect the culture
When travelling, you will often find yourself in unfamiliar situations due to differences in culture. The best thing to do is to read up about the country’s culture first, so you have a good understanding of what to expect and how to behave. Talk to local people about their customs and traditions - they will understand that you are a foreigner, and appreciate your interest and respect for their beliefs.
5. Be prepared to try things you’re afraid to do
After all, you may discover a new side to you or find an exciting hobby that you love. Places like New Zealand and South Africa are full of adventure and an ideal place to push you out of your comfort zone.
6. Don’t get frustrated
Things won’t always work out when you’re on your travels. However much careful planning you do in advance, there’ll be times when you’ll get lost or experience delays. Be patient, stay calm and don’t be afraid to ask for help in these situations. A well-stocked iPod or Kindle will also help to pass the time!
7. Be open minded
Whatever image you’ve built up in your head about a certain place or its people, throw it away immediately. You will often find things are completely different from what you'd imagined. Embrace every new adventure and always travel with an open mind.
We hope you enjoy your gap year adventure as much as we’ve all enjoyed ours here at BUNAC! One day you’ll be able to make your own list of wanderlust wisdom to pass on to the next generation of travellers.
For more information on working holidays and overseas volunteering opportunities, visit www.bunac.org/uk or call 033 3999 7516.