Gap Year Ideas for Every Type of Person

Written by Mollie Welch

  • Publish Date: January 2nd, 2021

There are so many incredible ways to spend your gap year, semester, or summer.

In order to get a well-rounded, culturally rich education, you need to get out of the box; you need to move beyond the four walls of the classroom. Students take gap years for all sorts of reasons. Some choose to pause their conventional studies in order to travel or gain some work experience.

Others take time away from university to volunteer for a special cause and take part in a service learning project. If you’re considering a gap year, here are some ideas to inspire you. A gap year may prove to be the most enriching educational opportunity you ever experience.

The most innovative gap year ideas

Travel the world

Traveling to another country and immersing yourself in its culture, traditions, and customs is a valuable form of education. Experiencing life in a far-flung city opens you up to new ideas, ways of working, and ways of living. Some gap year programs can take you to multiple destinations so you can experience several ways of living.

In every country, you’ll learn about that city or nation's cuisine, its religious practices, its artistic traditions, and its values. While you could read about these things in a book or discuss them in a classroom, it’s not the same as having these hands-on, on-the-ground experiences. If you are thinking about taking a gap year to travel, consider visiting a destination that's popular with other university students like Ireland, Costa Rica, Spain, Dominican Republic, China, Tanzania, or France.

Improve your language skills

Extensive knowledge of a foreign language is a life skill and asset for your future. Depending on what type of career you're considering, knowing a foreign language can enhance your resume and boost your appeal in the job market. Traveling to another country and obtaining practical language skills is another experience that's difficult to mimic in the classroom. While students can study and practice their language skills with an instructor, they get far more real-world experience speaking and listening to a foreign language by getting out into the world.

Intern with an international company

College students sometimes take a gap year to obtain real-world work experience. Today's jobs market is highly competitive. Students who gain international work experience as an intern will have an edge over college graduates who only have their newly obtained degree to present to potential employers. Stand out in the future by gaining experience in the subject you intend to major in or sector you want to build your career in.

Participate in a service learning project

It’s easy to find an astonishing variety of service learning projects associated with virtually every field. Whether you're in health, education, or sustainable development, your understanding of a community’s way of addressing its own issues will richen your own experience of the world. Joining a community’s existing efforts not only benefits the community, it can also provide you with plenty of new and useful skills.

While participating in a student learning project, you can work with community leaders and gain insights into their day-to-day work. You can work alongside non-profit groups and NGOs to learn they make progress. You’ll provide support and many of these groups will provide mentorship. Service learning experiences may even make you more marketable in the job search.

Enroll in a gap year program

All of the above experiences sound amazing, but how do you weave them together to build your perfect gap year? It can be daunting to try to line up these opportunities by yourself. For this reason, it's ideal to sign up for an international gap year program. EF Gap Year helps you build your perfect gap year filled with international travel, language study, internships, and service learning projects. Our Gap Year Consultants actually assist students in lining up their perfect gap year, semester, or summer.

Explore our programs here. Take the next step and sign up for a webinar.

Mollie Welch

At EF Education First, Mollie coaxes vibrant stories from our unique and wonderful student travelers. She has seen how this program transforms students and prepares them to take on college and the world. Outside of EF, she performs stand-up comedy.


Related student stories
Top 5 reasons why parents worry about gap years (and why they shouldn’t)
Written by EF Gap Year

There are many reasons why parents worry about sending their graduating seniors on gap year before college. But recent studies show that most of these…

How to Choose a Gap Year Program
Written by Rebecca Barr

Deciding to take a gap year—and choosing a program—are huge steps towards creating the life that you want. But sometimes deciding what to do on…

Interested in traveling with us? Your journey begins here.

Get Started