Everyone knows my feelings about the past 18 months. At times I think the world is ending, next I’m grateful the natural world is getting a break from the crazy pressure us humans put it through, then I’m feeling like maybe if I run away to a deserted island, live in a bikini and eat fresh fruit all day I can pretend it never happened. But the reality is it’s kind of been a trainwreck from start to finish...
Let’s not get political, but the recent A level / GCSE fiasco has been as clear as mud after a deludge of rain and a lorry reversing back through it.
60% of people said a gap year helped them decide what subject to study at university.
40% of students do not apply to university before embarking on their gap year.
90% of gap year students who originally intended to go uni on their return, do so.
80% of people thought their gap year added to their employability.
67% of hiring managers believed it beneficial for students and recent graduates to take a gap year amid the pandemic.
78% of college graduates participating in a gap year believed the time helped clarify what they wanted to do in life.
Uni fees currently sit at around £9,000 a year. That's 9,000 cheeseburgers from McDonalds. In today's current climate, Freshers events are being held via zoom call, in-class learning won't be happening for the foreseeable future. So I'm not saying online learning from home whilst sat in your underwear eating last night's tomato pasta bake isn't worth £9,000. Well, it depends who cooked the pasta bake to be fair, but maybe a gap year is for you? Here's what I learnt when I took a gap year from my life.
So, I'm not going to give you some impartial spiel about whether you should or shouldn't take a year off because really it's down to personal preference. I didn't go to uni, so maybe my uneducated brain shouldn't be saying anything at all. BUT! I did take a year off from my job, I took a sabbatical and booked a one-way flight to Bangkok. I was 22. I had been to college and went straight into my first full-time job working every hour under the sun to earn as much commission as possible before it became a new month and it all ticked over again.
It was relentless. If you work in sales, you know the feeling. I was 22!? What was I doing...I was in my prime, I mean I'm still drop-dead gorgeous now at 26. But I could neck a litre of Jagermeister, have 2 hours sleep and be as fresh as a daisy for the next day. PRIME TIME. So I decided to book a flight and go...I never looked back.
For 7 months, I backpacked around the world. I got far too drunk on buckets in Thailand, nearly got arrested for standing up in the back of a 4x4 whilst driving around Magnetic Island in Australia, and even volunteered to help with Cyclone relief in Fiji. I couch surfed in San Francisco (you know stayed on stranger's sofa's) and hit up opening parties in Vegas. I went by myself and made friends for a lifetime. I even picked up a boyfriend along the way too. But the most important thing was I realised what I enjoyed doing. What I liked and disliked. The best thing about solo travel is having the opportunity to do what you want when you want, and you meet a ton of cool people along the way too.
So I'm not saying leave your commitments at home and jump on the first plane to South East Asia and that it will solve all your life problems, but in today's current climate anything can happen. We know the border restrictions won't be in place forever, especially having stopped visitors (and their wallets) for so long already. It might take until 2021, but accessibility to the likes of Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia or Sri Lanka is more likely than not by the end of the year. Sometimes at such a young age, all you can offer is experience, stories that have happened to you and employers love to hear them. (Maybe not the part about me nearly getting arrested).
Gap years aren't always about travelling, hey you could stay in the same country and work in a bar. It's all an experience. I took a year off, travelled and came home a different person, you know the old backpacker saying "I found myself". Tbh, I was a legend before I went, and I still am a legend now, so that's not strictly true, but I did work out where I kind of wanted to go in life. Gap years aren't always about gallivanting abroad but just self-reflection, learning about how the world works and how you do too. With places like Barbados now offering remote working visas for up to a year's stay, why just sit at home in your underwear? If you're starting Uni this September and it's online head to Barbados and ride those waves on your lunch break instead.
This is just my story, and I'm sure some of the rest of the TruFam will tell you theirs but whatever you decide just remember -
Life is a rollercoaster, Just got to ride it…
(That's Ronan Keating in case you didn't know)
Wanna join the TruFam? For exclusive offers, latest travel news, advice and the TruStories from the road, simply fill in your details below and we'll do the rest.