Marie Naffah’s Ode To The Gap Year

Written by: Marie Naffah

Singer Songwriter Marie Naffah Talks About Taking Her Gap Year

A level results: barely a handful of letters that make you go: O M G*

*Not my grades. I swear.

So, the plan is once you’ve bagged your grades you’ll pack your bags, ready to roll straight out of school into university. Sorted. Only, you find yourself staring at unwanted, impossible letters – grades – and realize the future you thought was yours, well, isn’t.

Do not fret! You have options. Here is why taking a gap year was one of the best decisions of my life.

Internships/work experience

View of Ponte Vecchio from the Uffizi Gallery, Florence View of Ponte Vecchio from the Uffizi Gallery, Florence

With an entire year ahead of me, I was able to research internships that really interested me. I contacted several companies and landed a 3-month placement at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence.

Not only did it look good on my CV, but it also allowed me to gain experience in marketing and curating, giving me a clearer idea of what I might like to do after university.

See the world

A gondola ride in Venice Me on a gondola!

The opportunity to travel is one of the best reasons to consider taking a gap year. It’s the perfect time to experience things you’ve never experienced before, and may never have the chance to experience again.

I went to Italy for the AHA Gap Year Course of 6 Weeks. I joined the course not knowing anybody, but from day one I was fully immersed with the 19 other likeminded students and the fantastic tutors.

The interior of the Gesuiti, Venice The interior of the Gesuiti, Venice

Starting in Rome and ending in Venice, and passing through places including Naples, Siena, Florence, and Verona, we were able to skip the queues of the Accademia, eat where only locals eat, and continuously develop an appreciation for the prolific amount of art and culture Italy has to offer.

And that was only six weeks of my gap year. I also toured the UK as a musician, and travelled to Paris to play shows and build the foundations of an international fan base. I was named MTV’s Unsigned Artist of 2014, and I look back on my gap year as a crucial turning point for my career.

Prepare yourself for university

Calle Larga Rosa Calle Larga Rosa

A gap year is a great opportunity to take a well-earned break after your exams, really research the course you want to take, and start university completely refreshed.

Take a break. You deserve it.

Learn to say yes to everything

Sunrise after climbing Mt. Vesuvius Sunrise after climbing Mt. Vesuvius

Before my gap year I never thought I’d be able to climb Mt. Vesuvius in Naples, or have the courage to play a show in Montmartre, Paris.

Both of them turned out to among the most magical experiences of my life. I quickly learned that, on a gap year, you gain the confidence to say yes to so much more, something that will open up opportunities for the rest of your life.

Earn some money

When I wasn’t travelling I got a job in a café (not so exciting) and ran my own music night (quite exciting!). You can take whatever job is out there and start saving money for your future, whether that’s going to university or heading off around the world on your travels.

Decide what you want to do

The best thing about taking a gap year is that, possibly for the first time in your life, you can be completely selfish. No one is telling you what to do, and if they try you can ignore them.

It’s not going to be easy, but this is your chance to plot the ideal future for yourself. I made a list of everything I wanted to achieve and set out to do everything I could to make them happen.

Revive yourself

Forgive me for ending on a cheesy note, as I’d like to avoid the ‘I found myself on my gap year’ cliché. But whatever you choose to do, your gap year can teach you a lot about yourself. You might roll your eyes, but trust me, you’ll look back in the years to come and realize how vital it was in shaping your future.

This is an opportunity you might never have again. Make sure you take it.

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