Resources:

FAQs

Traveling During COVID-19

We have developed comprehensive measures to promote student safety and health while on EF Gap Year Programs. Explore our approach to travel this year, including the EF COVID Care Promise that is provided to all travelers.

Read about our response to COVID-19

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you’ll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about our gap programs.

You should always feel free to give one of our knowledgeable EF Gap Consultants a call at
1-800-726-9746.

About the Program
What’s included?

The program fee for our EF Gap Year programs includes all flights (including to and from your home city), on-the-ground transportation, accommodations, activities, excursions, mentorship, and global support. Some meals are also included in your program; the exact proportion of meals included depends on which program you choose. Your EF Gap Consultant can help you figure out the program that best fits your financial situation.

How academic is this program? I’m a little burnt out by school.

The whole point of an EF Gap experience is to learn by doing. We’ve specifically designed this program to get you out in the world so that you can experience other cultures, people, and ideas firsthand.

While our focus is experiential learning, some of our programs or program modules will involve some time in a classroom. For example, our Language & Culture module involves taking language classes at one of our EF Language Campuses, and our Global Business in London program has you taking a class from faculty at Hult International Business School.

Your EF Gap Consultant can help you explore different options and decide what program is the right fit for you based on what you want to get out of your experience!

What if I’ve already made plans for part of my year off?

A 10-11 week EF Gap Semester might be the perfect solution for you. It’s much less of a time commitment than the 25-week Gap Year, plus you have the additional advantage of choosing whether to begin in September or January.

Will there be WiFi?

Many of your program modules will take place in WiFi environments: Orientation, Language Study at your chosen EF International Language Campus, your Internship workplace, EF Leadership Academy, and Wrap-up.

Most of the hotels and hostels on your cultural Immersions in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand will also offer WiFi (either free or at a reasonable cost).

Note that in some Service Learning locations, WiFi may not be as readily available.

What will the meals be like?

Meals included on your program vary by module and program. On most programs, the meal plan includes daily breakfast and select dinners; lunch is typically left up to students. Speak with your EF Gap Consultant to better understand the meals included in your specific program so that you can budget accordingly.

Typically the meals during your EF Gap program will be hearty and nutritious, with an emphasis on local cuisine. If you are vegan or vegetarian, have food allergies, or other special dietary needs, please discuss this with your EF Gap Consultant, who can help you figure out the right program and plan for you. We do our best to accommodate dietary restrictions, but your food choices are ultimately your own responsibility.

What will the sleeping arrangements be like?

While accommodations may vary by program, module, and location, our focus is always on providing comfortable and safe places to stay.

This might mean a hotel during Guided Exploration modules; a homestay or dorm-style accommodation during Language & Culture modules; an eco-lodge during Service & Sustainability modules; and a shared apartment for Business & Internship modules.

You will typically share a room with between 1 and 3 other students. Rooming is organized by legal gender, but if you need rooming alternatives, please let us know and we are happy to discuss.

Can I just take one of the modules—service learning or internship—and skip the rest?

The focus of our programs are to help you become a global citizen through a broad range of experiences. We’re the only organization that prepares you for an international career with hands-on language study, service learning, internship, and leadership experience in several countries; however, if you just want to volunteer or work abroad for a few weeks, there are many other excellent programs specializing in these areas.

Do I have to study a language? I'm already bilingual.

As an EF Gap Semester student, you do not have to study a language. Our program lets you customize your focus in two of your four program modules, and neither of these has to be language study. For example, you can create the following program: European Immersion, then Custom Module A, Custom Module B, then EF Leadership Academy.

We do require all EF Gap Year students who are not bilingual to begin their program with six weeks of Language Study. Your Service Learning experience in Latin America will be so much more worthwhile, for example, if you are able to communicate in Spanish. The same is true for any internships you might undertake in Berlin, Seville, Seoul, or Tokyo.

However, if you are indeed already bilingual, it may be possible to substitute the Language Study module with a double volunteer service or internship module. Ask an EF Gap Consultant for details.

Can I choose the focus of my Service Learning module?

Our program allows you to choose the country where you would like to partner with local communities to make an impact.

We offer service learning modules in the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Peru, Tanzania, and Thailand. Our aim is to introduce you to your host country’s culture and give you a broad overview of the social and environmental challenges it faces. So the time you spend there will be a carefully curated set of experiences, led by an EF Service Learning Field Director.

You will visit several different communities, make educational visits to several social enterprises trying to make a difference, and participate in a range of service projects: empowering and educating youth; improving local supplies of food, water and shelter; preserving the surrounding natural environment; or safeguarding endangered species from extinction. We often collaborate with respected, locally based NGOs on long-term projects. That way you’re always making a real impact in ways that are the most needed.

It may be possible to earn college credit for your Internship thanks to our educational partnership with Southern New Hampshire University. Please speak with your EF Gap Consultant for details.

Will I get paid on my internship?

It is not possible to earn a wage for your internship during our program due to various international visas, taxation, and contractual restrictions; however, it may be possible to earn college credit for your internship thanks to our educational partnership with Southern New Hampshire University. Please speak with your EF Gap Consultant for details.

Does EF pay commissions to agents?

EF Gap Year programs are all direct enrollment programs where students apply directly on this site; therefore, EF Gap Year can assure families that we do not pay commission to any referral source.

What is the staff-to-student ratio on an EF Gap program?

EF Gap students are supported by multiple layers of staff throughout their experience abroad. The average staff-to-student ratio is 8 to 1 or less. Note that the exact staff-to-student ratio varies by program module. Modules with fixed locations, like Language Study for example, are fully staffed by EF with a range of instructors, school administrators and support personnel. Touring modules rely more on the support of  local professionals at each host facility as students move from location to location. In all cases, students are supported on-the ground by a tour director and/or module navigator, host facilities manager, and regional logistics officer. Additionally, students are supported remotely by a dedicated EF Gap Year Advisor and the program’s leadership team in the U.S., as well as a 24/7 Safety and Incident Response team.

How to Enroll
Is there a minimum age?

To be eligible for our program, you must be at least 18 years old by the date of departure. You must also have a high school diploma or GED. If you are under the age of 18 while you’re applying, a parent or legal guardian must co-sign all of your documents.

I am a person with a physical disability. What does a program with EF Gap Year look like for me?

The pacing and physical requirements of EF Gap Year programs vary by itinerary. Certain programs require considerable physical exertion; for example, many historic sites are only accessible on foot and involve stairs, rough trails, or inclines. Service Learning may involve lifting, digging, hammering, or other strenuous physical activities and similar accessibility issues.

Overseas, internship host companies, accommodations facilities, and modes of transportation are not bound by the same accessibility laws that apply in the United States, and therefore may not be up to the same standard of accessibility.

Our philosophy is to accept as many qualified candidates as possible. Your EF Gap Consultant will work with you to determine a program that will work for you and go through the essential program requirements and travel expectations of your planned itinerary.

Is financial aid available?

There are a limited number of scholarships, university-based financial aid, and private funding opportunities available to gap year students nationwide.

EF Gap Year also has up to $50,000 available in grants. You’ll find a few of these options, as well as instructions on how to apply for EF Gap Year scholarships, on our Fundraising page.

Another great resource is the Gap Year Association.

Additionally, we offer flexible payment plans allowing you to pay your program fee in installments (see below).

What are the payment plans?

There are a few different payment options: you may enroll in a monthly Automatic Payment Plan, pay manually in 5 installments, or pay in full upon enrollment. Please review the Payment Plans Terms and Conditions in the Booking Conditions for further details. Your EF Gap Consultant can also walk you through these options.

What are the cancellation policies?

You can withdraw your application on our program at any time before you are officially accepted into the program. (Please allow at least 60 days for processing.) Once you officially enroll in the program, you will thereafter be subject to our Cancellation Policy, which you can read in detail in our Booking Conditions.

Can I get medical and travel insurance through EF Gap Year?

EF Gap Year offers a specially-designed Global Travel Protection Plan that meets all of the program’s requirements and recommendations at a very competitive price of $800 for Gap Year and $400 for Gap Semester. This cost is not included in your base price and is non-refundable after the 10-day review period.

Note that all EF Gap Year participants are required to maintain adequate medical and accident insurance throughout the term of their program.

What are the Essential Enrollment Criteria for this program?

Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC) for all EF Gap Year Students.

On our program, students travel to up to 10 countries around the world while studying a foreign language, volunteering, and interning abroad.

Successful students are active, experiential learners who create growth goals for themselves for enhancing their personal development and intercultural knowledge and then committing to making progress on-program through cultural immersion and hands-on learning.

The health and well-being of our students and promoting student growth are our highest priorities. Our programs can present physical and mental challenges due to their fast-paced nature, which may be outside our travelers’ familiar comfort zones. This program requires students to be fully committed to and capable of working hard, taking responsibility for themselves, and working effectively within their cohort. This program is not a therapeutic or rehabilitation program (including for court-mandated adjudication) and is not suitable for students that require professional help in these areas.

Successful program participants will be able to meet the Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC) for EF Gap Year programs. If you are unable to meet certain criteria, please contact us to discuss further.

Each EF Gap Year participant must be able to:

1. Maintain a positive attitude and exhibit a willingness to try new things in a foreign environment and culture.

2. Travel independently, including from your home to scheduled programming and between program components, manage daily personal care, and cope with various environmental challenges (heat, cold, altitude, insects, changes in diet). Many program activities require participants to walk unassisted for several miles, be able to lift 40 lbs. and follow detailed instructions to avoid hazards. In some cases, participants may choose to opt out of activities in consultation with program staff and parents.

3. Effectively communicate with staff if you are under stress and need assistance. Be able to exercise independent judgement in the absence of direct supervision.

4. Practice self-management techniques in relation to mental health and self-care while abroad. Techniques include the ability to proactively seek help from staff, utilize de-stressing habits such as journaling, exercise, meditation, yoga, deep breathing, proper sleep routines, peer support, and ability to self-administer ongoing medical treatment while away from home support system.

5. Carry a copy (copies) of your medical and mental health history from your health provider(s) at all times and leave a copy (copies) with your designated emergency contacts. Take responsibility for your own self-care and manage any known medical and mental health conditions with a robust support and communication plan between you and your physician(s). If taking prescription medications, be able to independently manage storage, dosage and administration, and bring enough medication to last for the duration of the EF Gap program, or have a plan for how to restock while abroad. Avoid weening or eliminating prescription medication while on program.

6. Understand and follow instructions and acknowledge risks and hazards flagged by staff during the program and comply with recommended preventative measures. Students should also exercise good judgment and maintain situational awareness appropriate to circumstances.

7. Show respect through speech and actions for the new cultures and customs that you will encounter while abroad.

8. Contribute to a safe learning environment—no verbal or physical abuse or inappropriate behavior will be tolerated for any reason.

9. Effectively communicate ideas and concerns on an individual and group level.

10. Abide by our code of conduct and obey all local, national and international laws.

Failure to comply with this EEC may lead to disciplinary action, early dismissal, or medical evacuation from the program, or any combination of these. Associated costs will be borne by the program participant or their parents/guardian.

What are the program rules?

To participate in our program, every EF Gap Year student must agree to and sign the following Rules of the Road prior to departure.

Preparing to Go
Do I need special visas?

Our program is primarily designed for U.S. citizens and permanent residents. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please contact an EF Gap Year Consultant about your eligibility for the program. U.S. citizens do not, in general, need any special visas to visit any of the European countries we offer on this program.

Based on your itinerary, however, you may need to obtain appropriate visas for countries outside of Europe to complete other modules. Your EF Gap Advisor will help guide you on the correct Visas based on your destinations.

If you do require a visa, you will need to obtain one directly from the country’s nearest embassy or consulate in the United States. Before doing so, we strongly recommend that you first contact the embassy or consulate to verify what sort of documentation they will need from you, as well as the length of processing time they require. (Note that this can vary at each consulate location.) Again, some of the required application documentation you will need to gather and supply to the embassy or consulate yourself; some documentation (like your flight itinerary and letter of invitation), EF will need to supply.

It is ultimately your responsibility to obtain any travel documents necessary to complete your program. Any fees for visas you may require are also your responsibility and are not included in your program fee.

It’s always wise to verify the entry requirements for each country of travel on your program, including any required vaccinations. For more information on countries requiring visas for U.S. persons, please refer to the U.S. Department of State website: travel.state.gov

How much spending money will I need on the program?

A great deal of your basic daily needs are covered by your program fee.

You will, however, need to budget additional spending money for some of your meals. That’s typically lunch in most Language Study and Service Learning locations, select lunches and dinners whenever you’re on an Immersion module in Europe, Australia & New Zealand, and all your meals during your Internship, as you will be living on your own in an apartment with a kitchen. You should also budget for laundry, toiletries, snacks, coffee and beverages, and any other customary travel incidentals.

You’ll probably want to budget extra money for souvenirs and gifts, and any shopping you may want to do.

Once you enroll, we’ll send you detailed pre-departure information with our recommendations for how much extra money you may wish to budget for your program.

What will I need to bring with me?

What you pack will largely depend on what program you choose. EF will provide you with a thorough packing list as you prepare for your program.

Whether you start in the fall or the winter, the weather can be quite variable—from hot and sunny to cool and wet—so for most programs, plan to bring both summer and winter weight clothing that can be worn in layers.

If your program takes you to Latin America, you won’t want to forget to bring shorts, sturdy hiking boots, and swimwear. Students traveling to Australia and New Zealand should remember that the seasons will be reverse of what they are in the Northern Hemisphere. And anyone on a program that includes an internship should pack suitable, business casual office wear.

Though it is not a requirement, many students bring a laptop or tablet with them. It can be very useful during your program, especially if you are doing a Language & Culture module.

How often will my family be able to communicate with me?

There are no set rules. In fact, this tends to be a highly individual decision. It all depends on how independent you want your EF Gap experience to be. Most participants decide to limit contact with their families to a weekly email, Skype, or phone call. (In fact, we recommend a scheduled weekly check-in as a way of avoiding any needless worry.)

The rest of the time, our students usually try to immerse themselves in the local culture, navigate their new life on their own, and make all their own decisions.

Remember: you’re never alone. EF staff are always nearby to offer advice and support.

Can my family come and visit?

To get the most out of your experience, it’s always best to immerse yourself in it completely. Because of this, we recommend family and friends only visit during modules where you have free time on nights and weekends; this would be limited to Language Study and Internship. Every module of your program is thoughtfully planned to maximize the time you’re studying, serving, or interning, so it’s important to plan around any required activities.

To avoid expensive international calling and data fees, consider either buying international plans through your carrier or purchasing prepaid cards. EF has an international phone plan with unlimited data through T-Mobile that we can offer to our students. Ask your EF Gap Advisor for more info.

Interested in traveling with us?

Your journey begins here.

Get startedGet started