The idea of a gap year is nothing new; in fact, people have been taking some version of a ‘gap year’ for hundreds of years. Before they settle down into normal life, they spend a few months – or years if they are lucky – experiencing and living in another country. In the modern world, it’s most often done between high school and college.
As worthy as gap years are, they do have a tendency to happen a little too early in life. There are myriad benefits to taking a year or more out of ‘normal’ life, so perhaps it’s a concept that should be used throughout life? Rather than continuing on in the same place, with the same employer, doing the same job, for year after year… you occasionally break away for 12 months and try something different, something new.
As well as being a worthwhile cause for the sheer sake of exploring a different culture and way of living, there are multiple reasons why your next career break might be best tooled into an adult gap year. Reasons that could lead to you benefiting in your main career when you return home, as well as enjoying a host of experiences while overseas. So what are they?
1. Your Language Skills Will Improve
Learning to speak another language is something many of us begin. Think about the process of how we decide to undertake such an endeavor, usually with one of the three main second languages (Spanish, French, and German).
We ask ourselves: “is Spanish the easiest language to learn?”, “how can I fit in classes with my schedule?” or “where do I find a German teacher?”. Very rarely do we ask the pertinent question of: am I going to be able to learn this language properly?
It’s one thing to learn and be able to speak another language based off textbooks; a useful thing, no doubt. But having to live and work in a country where you’re relying on your second language? That’s far more difficult, and it’ll improve your language skills tenfold – all of which looks good on a resumé when you get home.
2. Explore Different Options
If you’re going to work abroad, then there’s very little chance you’re going to walk into an equivalent job to the one you’re doing in your normal life. There’s even an argument that you shouldn’t do that if the opportunity presents itself. Taking a year abroad is about experimentation and testing yourself, which you’re not going to do if you just do the same job in a different country.
If, instead, you work with voluntary organizations or teach English as a second language, you might just discover a hidden passion or talent for a career you never normally would have tried.
3. Expand Your Perspective
It sounds a little “New Age-y” to say it, but it’s true: expanding your perspective is a valuable way to spend a year of your life. Seeing the way the world works outside of your home country can help you appreciate what you have at home; or it might even convince you that you prefer the way things are done elsewhere, and decide to make the move permanent. This is information you have no other way of getting apart from living it.
So why not give it a try for a year, and see what you could discover about yourself?
This post has been contributed by Ryan Gatt, it may contain affiliate links.