Hello all! Most of you will know that I finished high school last year, and that I’m currently in the middle of a gap year.
I know that the American and Australian education systems are quite different, so I’m not sure whether it’s customary in America to have a gap year before going onto to pursue a higher education, but in Australia it’s an option that a lot of students, including myself, take.
But to be honest, it was a massive change to go from twelve years of school to doing almost completely nothing. It actually rattled me quite a bit at the beginning of the year, when all my friends were either going back to university or back to school (depending on whether they’re a year older, or a year younger than me. I have quite an age range in my friends).
So today, I’m going to be bringing you a list of fifteen things you can do in your gap year, to keep you from being (too) lazy and to help you learn some new skills before committing to four more years of study!
Learn a language
Languages are so much fun! I know some people aren’t too keen on them, but personally, I think everyone should at least learn the basics of another language. This is an especially helpful (and fun) idea for someone who lives in a very diverse area, where there are a lot of people who come from other cultures.
I’m using this year to learn the basics of Auslan (Australian Sign Language) and I’m seriously considering studying for a Diploma of Auslan, and a Diploma of Auslan Interpreting in a few years time.
Get a job
Jobs are useful and I definitely think its worth getting a part time or casual job, if you haven’t got one already, while you’re having your gap year. Myself, I don’t have a job yet, but I’m keeping an eye out for any available opportunities that would suit me.
Get a dog
I’m biased, but I think dogs are awesome. I got a rescue dog about three months ago, to help combat the unsettling boredom I was feeling and it’s such a great feeling. My dog is a fairly high-maintenance dog who needed (and still needs) a lot of training, and is also quite large and unruly, but there’s so many diverse dogs at shelters that need homes, and I can almost guarantee you’d be able to find one to suit your lifestyle. There’s been so many studies that suggest owning or being in contact with dogs is good for stress, it’s good for your physical health, and so much more! My fitness has increased a lot since I got my dog and getting him has honestly been one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.
Also, don’t take this tip too literally. If you aren’t into dogs, you could get a cat (my sister recently adopted a rescue cat), or a rabbit, horse, hamster, whatever. If you’ve already got a dog, you could adopt another! Or you could try something new with your dog–there’s plenty of options, such as flyball, obedience training, tracking, or agility.
A lot of people want to get fit and I think a year when you have few other commitments is the ideal opportunity to do so. I’ve always been an active person, but even I want to improve my fitness levels. For me, getting a very active dog was the way I did this. On a nice day, we’ll walk 5-7km together, plus playing games and other such things.
For other people, it might be getting a membership to a gym (and using it), starting up a sport, or just committing to doing a certain amount of steps each day. It’s also not a bad time to look over your diet and make adjustments. If you get into the habit of eating healthy and exercising now, it’ll make it much easier when you’re back to study full time.
Pick up an old hobby
Hobbies often fall by the wayside during the stress of school’s last few years, so if you’re still interested, why not pick it up again? I dropped calligraphy several years ago because I just didn’t have enough time for it, however, for Christmas last year, I received a new calligraphy set and decided to start back up again. I don’t get an awful lot of time to practise, but it’s nice and relaxing whenever I need a break from editing.
Try something new
There’s so much to experience in the world! You could try painting, or graphic design, start a blog, pick up poetry…anything you want really. I decided to try new forms of dance this year and I love how it’s broadened my horizons.
Take a class
Taking a class mixes really well with trying something new. As I said, I’ve started tap dancing classes, as well as obedience classes with my dog, and I did a one-off Auslan class. You could try cooking classes, singing lessons, dance lessons, or a language class! These sorts of things are great to keep you occupied for the rest of the year.
Arguably, this is one of the best times to travel. I personally haven’t done any travelling yet, but I would really love to have enough money to do so 😀
Do something you’re scared to do
Like bungee jumping, or skydiving, or going to a new church, or stepping out of your comfort zone.
Tackle a year long project
Long-term projects are intimidating things, especially since most of us live in a society that expects instant results and doesn’t like being patient. But a gap year is the perfect time to tackle a year-long project. This can be anything–from an art project, to an indie publishing project, a sewing project to a decluttering project. It doesn’t matter.
My goal for this year was to have my novel “The Stars Fill Infinity” ready to send to agents by the end of the year. It’s been pretty full time so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing if I can do it.
Make a new friend
Some people enjoy getting to know new people and some people don’t. For most of my life, I’ve had three very good friends and not many others. But I wanted to try reaching out to new people this year and making new friends as well as strengthening relationships with my old ones.
The great thing is, you can find a new friend almost anywhere. Don’t be afraid to step out of your preconceived notions about what a friend looks like. A friend can be younger than you, or older than you. They can be single, or married (you know, within reason. Don’t be creepy). They can have the same interests as you, or be completely different.
Become a leader
Find somewhere you can volunteer as a leader, or transition from student to leader if you’re old enough. For me, this was my church’s youth group, where I’m enjoying being a leader and getting the chance to invest in such wonderful kids. For you, it could be Girl Guides, Scouts, a youth program or a Bible study.
Mentor someone/be mentored
Depending on where you’re at spiritually and emotionally, either of these options, or both of them, could be good for you. I’m not currently mentoring or being mentored, but if the option arose for either, I’d definitely be interested. I think it’s a great way of being taught, of learning who you are and what you believe, seeing things from a different point of view and helping others do the same. It would also help you to build up friendships between people of different age ranges.
Keep a journal
I’ve been keeping a prayer journal and a regular journal (on and off) since I was fourteen and its one of my favourite things. I love looking back on moments of my life that I otherwise would have forgotten and seeing all the good and all the bad and the way that God has moved and changed me in those times. This is incredibly valuable and I think a lot of people underestimate the value of the diary/journal. And don’t throw that excuse about having nothing to write. Your life is interesting…and even if its not, God is interesting and definitely worth writing about.
Commit to a year long Bible study plan
Try reading the Bible cover to cover in a year. I think it’s something every Christian should do at least once, but it takes a lot of hard work, which is why it would be perfect to spend a gap year doing it.
Or try studying a particular concept for a year. Focus on the passages of the Bible that speak of peace, or love, or the Glory of God. I can guarantee you won’t know everything about that topic by the end of the year, but you’ll have learnt something worth knowing and its definitely not going to be a waste of time.
So there you have it! Fifteen options for your gap year. Also, a note on money…We’re all students, obviously, who may or may not have jobs, and definitely don’t have the money to fork out at random. I know a lot of the suggestions I gave in this post are quite expensive, but the great thing about these ideas is that they can be free or low cost, if you want them to be.
If you don’t want to pay for a gym membership, get fit by running around your neighbourhood. Try a hobby like knitting, which is very low cost. Adopt a mixed breed dog instead of buying a pedigree puppy. Look for free online classes. Travel using a site such as Workaway (do be careful though!)
There’s a lot of options. Don’t give up just because you’re broke. 😀 If you’d like more suggestions, just let me know in the comments and I’ll give you a few!
How about you guys? Do other countries have gap years or is this an Australian thing? Have you/will you take a gap year? What’s one new thing you’d like to try?