Why Students Should Travel During a Gap Year

guy selling gap year opportunitiesFor many students in the U.S., studying in high school today is easier than, say, a hundred years ago. Indeed, due to advanced technologies which can be used for studying, being a student today is hardly a dilemma. In addition, high school students do not have to rush into choosing their future fields of expertise and entering a university; instead, they can take a gap year to relax, earn some money, and see what they would like to be doing before studying further. And in my opinion, one of the best ways to spend a gap year (at least half of it) is to travel around different countries.

Travelling is not about simply having fun; in fact, it is a serious survival school, especially for a young person who got used to being taken care of by his or her parents. It does not mean a teen must cook food on an open fire or sleep in dire woods; in the 21st century, Master Card allows a person to comfortably live almost in any country of the world. By survival, I mean the necessity to make independent decisions and take responsibility for them by facing the consequences. Where to eat or what to cook; which transport is cheaper; how to buy something you need when the retailer does not speak any language you know; where to stay for the night; how to get from point A to point B—these, as well as many other questions a traveler solves every day, and there is no one around to tell them whether their decision is true or false. For a young person, the ability to make life-affecting decisions can be invaluable (TravelStudentsF).

Travelling not only makes a teen more decisive, but also more communicative. When you go to a foreign country, you know almost nothing about it. Even if you have searched for some information about it, 90% of it is useless when you arrive to the new place. Therefore, you need help, and the only assistance you can get in a foreign country is from locals; in case you travel to a non-English-speaking country, you should also be prepared for the fact that people will not understand you. This can easily become an emergency case, because even basic communication phrases like “I need a doctor” or “I need help” suddenly become a challenge; therefore, a traveler has either to learn phrases of the local language, or try to explain what he or she needs with gestures. Both ways are fun, and contribute to making a person more easygoing and able to communicate with almost anyone. For a person who has lived for half a year in, for example, Nepal, communicating with English-speaking people after returning back home is easier (IFR).

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Also, travelling makes people more open-minded. When living in an homogeneous environment, a young person rarely has an opportunity to see beyond conformed norms of behavior, etiquette, and morals. Homogeneous environments usually make people more conservative. Instead, imagine you suddenly arrive in a completely new surrounding, with a totally different culture, traditions, attitude, outlook, and way of life. You will either have to adapt to it, or return back home, because frustration from the fact that foreign people do many things in a way different from what you got used to at home can be intense. Fortunately, the majority of travelers not only adapt to new rules, but enjoys embracing them, which makes them more open-minded, ready to experiment, and spontaneous (StudentsAroundF). No need to say that all this can be useful for a person regardless of where he or she lives, or what he or she does.

Modern students can enjoy the possibility to travel around the world before entering a university and thus choosing their future life path. Travelling during a gap year (or at least several months) can make a travelling student more responsible and decisive, communicative, and open-minded. These skills and qualities can be invaluable for a person throughout their entire lifetime.

References

Takada, Andrew. “Are You a Sissy? Go Travel!” TravelStudentsF. N.p., 11 June 2012. Web. 12 Mar. 2013.

“What’s so Exciting about Travelling?” IFR.net. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

Doe, Jim. “How to Stop Being Ignorant.” StudentsAroundF. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.

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