What is a gap year?

My first intoduction to a gap year student was during my junior year in college. I was taking a semester abroad in Viña del Mar, Chile. During our orientation class, the thirty or so of us were listening to our director give us instructions about our classes, safety advice, etc. and all of a sudden this kid runs out of the classroom and projectile vomits almost as soon as he opens the door. Someone asked what happen to him and someone else’s reply was literally, “He’s a gap year.” And that answer sufficed for everyone else in the room.

Apparently the gap year kids partied hard the night before. He was an 18 year old guy from San Francisco. Fresh out of high school taking a year off before college. I remember thinking how brilliant that was. Yup, I just watched a kid projectile vomit before even hearing him speak and I am referring to his situation as brilliant.

My freshman year in college, I spent probably 15 hours a week at the gym because I didn’t know what else to do. Not many friends, fewer social skills, and I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I changed my major five or six times. My dad practically giggled when I would tell him a new major by the last year  or two.

There are programs abound for students with this interest for a break before university that still keeps students on track for furthering their education afterwards. Like those who were attending the same university as me in Chile. They weren’t going for college credit, so things were more laid back for them, but they maintained a good work/study ethic while learning a second language and exploring Chile.

Essentially though, a gap year is time to reevaluate, reflect, and explore one’s purpose without  the stresses of modern life (school, career, etc.) to get in the way. Most people choose to travel, to gain new perspectives and to regroup on life thus far.

Brad and Leslie, of Two Sided Travels, are taking an epic post college gap year. They decided to do a series on gap years, featuring experiences of others, including myself. Go check out the guest post I wrote on my gap year for their series here. My post highlights my time with the Peace Love Tacos crew and my winter in Thailand. Don’t forget to check out the other awesome travelers they’ve been featuring as well.

 I love the idea of a gap year for anybody during any walk of life. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an expensive occasion. During most of my time I was working or doing a work trade scenario of some sort but each situation allowed me freedom and flexibility to explore myself and my purpose.

So thankful for every wild experience and for the road that I’ve ended up on.

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