3 Reasons to Take a Gap Year

This is the first year of my life in which I haven’t gone back to school. It’s a scary realization for me. I’m an adult and there is no denying it anymore. And as I approach this post-grad life, I find myself wishing I were 17 again graduating high school and taking a gap year (even though I was attending school during this gap year, it didn’t count for anything so I really didn’t do much). I took a gap year by doing an exchange with Rotary International. This was probably the best decision I’ve ever made and one I encourage every kid to do. But I’m not going to sit here and tell you to go on a gap year “just because”, I’ve come up with my top 3 reasons you should take a gap year. For this list I left out the obvious one of getting to travel. Even though that was the main draw for me to take a gap year myself, I wanted to focus more on what I took away from my year off that I wasn’t necessarily expecting.

Find Yourself

If you’re entertaining the idea of a gap year, there is a good chance you’re a teenager. As a teenager you are just starting to figure yourself out. You’re learning what you like, what you want, and who you are as a real person is just starting to take shape. I know taking a gap year was needed for me to figure out a lot of things. I couldn’t go straight from high school to university – I couldn’t decide on what to study. It’s a huge turning point in your life and it can be a good thing to take a year off to think. While living in Germany I figured out that I wanted to study art. I figured out what’s important to me. I figured out a lot about myself. Granted, at 17/18, it was only a start to figuring out things but I got a lot farther along than I would have been without that year away. The gap year really allowed me the time I need. There isn’t a rush when you’re young and I don’t think a lot of people realize that with all the pressure on teens to make big decisions.

Seek Discomfort

Your life up until the end of high school is most likely pretty comfortable. Your parents took care of most of needs and you’ve probably developed a good comfort zone around you. This is your first chance to really take your life into your own hands so why not do something great with that opportunity before getting weighed down with university or work. Seeking discomfort (especially at a young age) will help you deal with any curve balls thrown your way. Pushing your own limits allows you to become a stronger and braver person. And now sitting here as a university graduate I can say that you will really need that strength one day.

Make Friends

Sure. I could have lumped this one in with the obvious reasons but, I also think its important enough to elaborate on. I took away so much from my gap year but when I look back on that time, I remember the people first. I got to do amazing things in amazing places and I grew as a person however, the friends I made are really what I remember. All of the things I did while on my gap year wouldn’t mean as much as they do if it wasn’t for my local friends or fellow exchange student. The people you meet and spend time with shape you just as much as the actual experiences. Gap years are great to break out and meet more people that will change how you view things.

Some of the wonderful people I met during my gap year in Paris (me in the front with the white glasses)

Some of the wonderful people I met during my gap year in Paris (me in the front with the white glasses)

I would love to take another gap year now that I’m at another crossroads in my life but I unfortunately have about $0.39 in my bank account. It’s not quite enough to take off again. So, I’m off to the work world to save up for my next big adventure. You can check out some ideas I have for the next big thing on my post about the Go Global Expo. Or you can see some of the adventures I got up to during my gap year. But in the meantime, let me know if you ever took a gap year and what was the best part about it?

3 thoughts on “3 Reasons to Take a Gap Year

  1. Alexandre Farias
    December 2, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    I came across my exchange diary yesterday, as I was looking for another thing. It made me smile, miss, and wish those great times could happen again. Our trips and the whole experience were so fun, so exciting! And we share the same idea when you say the people were an important part. I’ve thought of going back to Germany again, but it shall not be the same without them, or at least without being a Rotary exchanger. I still hope we can find such a great program for older students. haha

    I laughed at the “I unfortunately have about $0.39 in my bank account” part haha

    Liebe Grüsse aus Brasilien!

    1. meggiekay
      December 3, 2013 at 8:31 AM

      I still hope to go back to Germany. Even though the students wouldn’t be there, my host families will be and it would be nice to see them again. I think it would be really interesting to experience Germany as an adult instead of a student. <3

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