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Tasneem
Johnson-Dollie
Tasneem Johnson-Dollie is a travel writer living in South Africa. She has experience in public health nutrition and worked as a dietician before launching her writing career. She loves bringing her passion for public health and sustainable development to every article she writes. Her travels around South Africa as well as to India, Australia, and Saudi Arabia have fueled her passion for exploration.
Text image: How to grow your gap year benefits

The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.

What can grow your gap year benefits? Well, it comes down to picking properly, and making the most of gap year opportunities. Here’s how. 

The benefits of a gap year are almost common knowledge nowadays, and many high school graduates and college students cosy up to the idea of taking a gap year. Gap year opportunities let you apply what you already know in a real-world setting and learn even more as you go. 

This type of experience has a way of helping students to grasp the relevance of their academic work and make a meaningful contribution to global development that’ll motivate their future endeavours. 

Further reading: What are the benefits of doing a gap year?

But, for some, the gap year benefits they expected may not materialise in the way they thought. 

There are a few key things to consider when you pick a gap year program. These can add to the gap year benefits you gain. But, how well it turns out is also a result of your approach to the gap year opportunities you sign up for. 

Let’s see how to grow your gap year benefits, starting by picking the perfect options for taking a gap year abroad. 

How to pick the best gap year opportunities

A woman leads an English lesson while on a gap year program.

 

Have a seat, take a breath and perhaps direct your gaze out of the nearest window. 

Assuming there are no distracting sights, you can now consider why you want to take a gap year. What are you expecting from it? Why did you consider taking a gap year in the first place?

These are important questions to ask because the answers will give you a clearer idea of what you want out of the experience and the type of gap year ideas that would best suit your goals.

Maybe you’ve come to the conclusion that you’re taking a gap year to let go of some of the stress that comes with studying. 

Perhaps you’re excited about getting involved in hands-on learning activities while growing your knowledge on international destinations. 

Or, you could have a very clear idea of what career you’d like to go into and are taking a gap year to add to your employability in your selected field.

Knowing this before you start browsing through gap year opportunities is a great way to ensure you’re not overwhelmed by the many gap year ideas that pop up. 

And, it’ll allow you to focus on the finer details of the programs you consider.

Here’s a look at three things to consider when looking at gap year programs abroad.

1) Be on the lookout for ethical gap year ideas

A pair of participants collect litter from a beach while taking a gap year in Thailand.

 

The ethical stance of gap year internships or volunteer programs is a key part of what makes a program successful or not. 

Taking part in ethical gap year opportunities means you’ll be making a positive impact and adding to global development. 

But getting involved in gap year programs abroad that don’t have a clear ethical stance, or don’t follow it, means that you can’t be sure if the contribution you make is ethical. This means you may not experience gap year benefits like interacting with animals ethically, or adding to community development in a positive way. 

How do you check if the gap year ideas you’re looking into are ethical? 

Well, ethical gap year organisations should have a clear stance that’s easy to find on their website or program brochures. 

And, you could also contact gap year organisations online or over the phone for more clarity. 

2) Stick with supportive gap year organisations

A group of participants fill in survey details while on one of GVI's gap year programs abroad.

 

When it comes to taking a gap year abroad, the travel logistics, program itinerary and safety aspects can be overwhelming to navigate by yourself.

But, reputable gap year organisations offer support before, during and after you take a gap year abroad. 

Starting out with this 360-degree support can give you a much better sense of what your experience abroad will be like. 

It’ll also add to your confidence when it comes to travelling overseas and allow you to take on gap year opportunities with a more positive outlook.

So joining up with a reputable gap year organisation can add to your experience in a bigger way than just making admin easier. 

It can set you up with a solid travel abroad foundation and make it easier to reap some of the best benefits of taking a gap year.

3) Take advantage of gap year ideas that add to your employability

Participants and staff carefully collect data on a sicklefin lemon shark on a gap year program in Seychelles.

 

Some of the most important gap year benefits are the ones that stay with you even after your gap year is over. 

Taking part in gap year programs abroad that add to your employability is one way to make sure that the gap year benefits you gain carry over into your personal and professional life in the future.

Find out if the organisation you’re looking to sign up with offers learning opportunities and the chance to gain qualifications while taking part in gap year opportunities abroad. 

If they do, you’ll know that you’ll be setting off on a constructive gap year program abroad. 

How being proactive builds on gap year benefits

By going into gap year opportunities with a positive attitude and commitment to the program, you’ll build on the gap year benefits you gain. 

For example, you can show up on project, keep to yourself while completing tasks and get a glimpse of the teamwork skills you could have gained. Or, you can show up on project, get stuck into tasks, collaborate with your fellow participants and the local community, and gain a much deeper insight into what it takes to make sustainable development projects work.

And beyond just getting to know more about the ins and outs of sustainable development, you’ll gain hands-on experience in collaboration, communication and intercultural competency. 

In this way, you can take full advantage of the gap year opportunities that come your way and gain even more meaningful gap year benefits.

Find out more about GVI’s award-winning gap year programs abroad and gap year internships, and see how you can gain some of the best gap year benefits out there.

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