6 July 2019

Gap Year Diaries One: Planning and Manifesting

I am now three weeks into summer, which I find both stressful and enjoyable. I adore summer, especially being able to travel, but equally waiting upon exam results is terrifying, especially when I no longer know what I want to do with my life.

However, the inevitable fear aside, I am feeling excited about my life again. There is something truly liberating about having a blank slate for the foreseeable future and being able to create my own plan based upon goals that I have had on my list for years.

Therefore, I have decided that I want to begin a series of 'Gap Year Diaries', not only so that I can document my year for myself, but also share ideas and inspiration with all of you. I can feel that this is going to be a formative year of immense self-growth, a year which I really believe is going to shape the way that the next few years of my life develop.

For this first post, I thought that I would share some of my ideas and methods for planning. The process of planning a gap year is very much one of consequence, in the sense that often getting or organising one thing can affect whether I can do another. Frankly, this is probably the most stressful part, having to leave most things up to fate. However, there are numerous things which I would like to do which I'll talk through now.

My initial brainstorming consisted of writing everything that I wanted to do down and then categorising them based upon the type of activity, which I then researched and costed. As such, this now means that I have a bank of goals for the year, which I can pick and choose for a time that fits:

1) Internships and Work Experience
I'm really lucky that I have parents with connections to different institutions whereby I have access to internships. My first tip would be to really make the most of any connections that you or your family may have because that can often be your way in. I've secured an internship for September, which is based in London and I'm really excited about. However, I'll speak more about these once I've done them. Of course, internships and work experience are going to be different for everyone, in terms of what interests them or what is accessible. Therefore, my biggest tip would be to get in early, and if you have the benefit of a gap year, try to avoid University or School holidays when students will be fighting for internships! Lastly, don't be afraid of emailing companies directly, offering work experience is great for a company so it is worth their time to cooperate!

2) Part Time or Temporary Paid Work
I would say that one of the main reasons that people tend to take a year out is to work, either to fund University or to travel. During my six months off last year, I held a Christmas job working at Debenhams, and whilst at the time I found it exhausting and quite difficult, due to the fact that it interfered with festivities, I would actually really consider looking for another Christmas job. For me, this worked really well, because although I'm a hard worker, I struggle to work for or at something which I find boring- even if it pays! Therefore, I found it really helpful that I knew that it was only for two months, which meant that I could take lots of over-time and not feel like all I was doing was working. As such, I would really recommend looking at Christmas jobs if you're wanting to work, because it is perfect if all you need is an injection of cash to get your plans off the ground, and having full-flexibility will place you above students.

3) Language Learning
I have been desperate to seriously learn a language for years. I 'learnt' French throughout school, even achieving a GCSE qualification. However, frankly, the British education system simply isn't set up for serious language learning. Once I joined college, I met people who were taking language A-Levels, and after hearing the content of the course, I realised that I'd missed it and that it would have been something which I'd have enjoyed. Therefore, since then, I knew that if I ever took a prolonged period of time out of education, that I would try my best to learn a language (even just to a basic conversational level). As such, I've been looking at two different options, private language tuition where I live, and a language immersion course in France. It would be my absolute dream to be able to sit one of the beginner levels of the DELF exam next summer, but I'll have to see how and if this works out- I'll keep you posted on this one!

4) Travel
Alongside working, I would say that travelling is one of the main reasons that people tend to take a year out, and I'm no different. I completely thrive off of travelling, and I think that if you're that way inclined, then you naturally reach a point in life where you need to travel, it's like a hunger in your soul, and that's how I feel. I'm really fortunate to be pretty well travelled within Europe, however, I've never visited anywhere outside of Europe (unless Western Russia counts?). Yet, I actually have family who lives in Canada, my parents visited numerous times before I was born, but we've never been together as a family. Therefore, my main plan (so far) for next year is to go to Canada for a month or so, and travel around. My Aunt lives in Vancouver, so I'll be based from there, and I'll see where the world takes me. Other than Canada, I'm actually heading to Barcelona tomorrow (as this blog post is published) and there are many other places that I would like to visit next year within Europe- so we'll see what happens.

5) International Voluntary Work
Since the age of sixteen, I've loved volunteering and have done so within numerous charities and organisations. As I've grown, I've become increasingly passionate about human rights and humanitarian aid, therefore, I would love to volunteer and help out at a refugee camp. My mum is an academic within this sphere, so I'm really hoping that she can help me find a charity to volunteer within. I think that the key with volunteering abroad is to find an ethical organisation that actually helps ordinary people, rather than for a company which you have to pay for, which unfortunately often only perpetuates social issues. If you're interested in spending most of your gap year volunteering, then a really great way to do this is through a government-led scheme, in the UK that is the International Citizen Service.

As a part of this series, I'm going to list my definite plans at the time of publication, this will be a really interesting way to see how my gap year maps out and changes, needless to say, I'm excited!

Current Plans:

July:
Barcelona, Spain
Driving Theory Test
Family Holiday in the UK

August:
A-Level Results Day (agh)
Bank Holiday Weekend in London with Family

September:
Two-Week Long Internship in London

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