To study abroad on your gap year gives you a chance to really get to know a country and become fully absorbed in its culture while at the same time gaining valuable skills for life, training and qualifications.
There are loads of options to choose from, including high school, college or university programmes, language courses and summer study camps. With tuition fees in the UK continuing to sky-rocket, studying abroad on your gap year has never been such a viable option. It is also something which will look great on your CV, as it will show you are not only an outgoing person but also motivated and driven.
Top ten reasons to study abroad
The obvious one! Many young people are reluctant to go travelling because they fear the time spent away from ‘normal’ life will put them behind their peers. But using your gap year to study is the perfect way to both travel and come home with really useful qualifications.
To expand your mind
Studying abroad will not only expose your mind to new ways of thinking in the classroom, but also your general world view. You will meet people from all over the world and have the opportunity to live in a culture completely different from the one you were brought up in.
To make you employable
As an employer, what would you find more impressive: a person with a qualification in a certain subject but who has never left home? Or a person with that exact same qualification but who gained it by showing the maturity, drive and outgoingness to travel at the same time? Exactly.
To meet new people
Sure, you could easily meet new people in your own country, but nothing bonds people quite like travel, which is why some of the best friendships are forged out of normal comfort zones. You could return home not only with a great qualification, but also a great network of contacts and friends all over the world.
To learn a new language
Many people study abroad with the specific goal of learning a new language, but even if your particular course or experience isn’t geared towards that, you will find yourself picking up the local lingo regardless, even if it’s at a basic level. This will also look great on your CV.
To break routine
Let’s face it, academia can be a bit of a drag, especially for students who are approaching the end of university and who have spent their entire lives in classrooms. While it’s really important to stick it out and get those qualifications, to do it in a brand new environment can offer a welcome break from normal routine and breathe new life into your learning.
To become independent
Nothing will make you more independent than leaving your comfort zone. At first you may feel a little daunted, perhaps even a little panicked (there is a lot to take in), but very soon you will start to swim and discover that you are stronger and capable than you ever allowed yourself to imagine.
To increase your confidence
As a follow on from the above, your confidence will soar to dizzy new heights, and you’ll return home barely recognisable from the person who left all those months ago. Confidence is the key to success in pretty much anything – whether it’s effectively arguing your point in a seminar, or convincing an employer in an interview that you’re the person for the job – and there is no surer way to obtain it than travel.
To expand your options
Sure, you may study abroad with a view to gaining a qualification in medicine, but while out there you may inadvertently discover a love for something else – perhaps travel writing, or photography. This isn’t to say you have to abandon you lifelong desire to be a doctor, but it’s never a bad thing to have options and plan Bs. And Cs. And Ds.
To expand your world
Those who don’t study abroad will typically only look for jobs in their home countries. But if you take that leap of faith and spend time in a different country, your whole world will suddenly open up with employment possibilities. No jobs in the UK? Who cares, there’s loads elsewhere!
For even more reasons to take this path, check out our article on the top reasons to study abroad.
Perhaps understandably, a language is the most popular thing to study abroad, usually the native language of whatever country the course take place in. There is simply so better way to learn a language than to be around people who are speaking it constantly; you will learn more than you possibly could in any classroom in your home country.
Media & journalism
Another really popular topic for students studying abroad is journalism and general media. If you are interested in travel journalism (one of the most popular kinds, for obvious reasons) this is one of your best routes into it.
There are so many medical work experience placements abroad which cover so many exciting countries, including India, Argentina, Japan and Cambodia. Your dedication to helping others will be really tested in many of these impoverished environments, and you will return home with a vast breadth of knowledge and experience.
Business & finance
The world is rapidly opening up; globalisation is no longer a buzz word, it’s the reality of big business these days. With that in mind, studying abroad for a business and finance qualification is an ideal way to prepare yourself for a career in this industry. You’ll make useful contacts and expand your employment possibilities.
One of the most rewarding things you can do studying abroad is to work with children, both to give something back to lesser developed countries and to gain hugely valuable experience in the profession.
Teaching Abroad and TEFL
If you’re thinking about teaching as a career then teaching English as a foreign language is the perfect starting point. It’s one of the best ways to travel and see the world, all whilst teaching and making a difference to children's lives.
Teaching abroad and TEFL are becoming more and more popular in the gap year market. If you think you've got what it takes to teach abroad then you're in the right place...