ABOUT THE PROGRAM
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 real world, so that you can experience other cultures, people and ideas firsthand. That said, part of your language study will take place in a teacher-led classroom—though the focus is still very much on active learning. You will attend select seminars and workshops at the EF Leadership Academy at Hult International Business School outside London. But this will actually give you a terrific glimpse into college life!
A 12-week EF Gap Semester might be the perfect solution. It’s much less of a time commitment than the 26-week academic year. You also have the additional advantage of choosing whether to begin in September or January.
We try to make our gap programs affordable for everyone by including as much as possible in the program fee—flights, transportation, room and board, activities and excursions, mentorship, and global support. Note that most other similarly priced program do not include return travel to your study locations. Given that you may well visit ten or more countries during a typical EF Gap Year, we are confident our program offers an exceptional value.
Many of your program modules will take place in wifi environments: Orientation in London, your EF language campus, your internship workplace, EF Leadership Academy at Hult's Ashridge campus, and wrap-up in London. Many of your hotels and hostels on tour will also offer wifi (either free or at a reasonable cost).
Meal plans vary by module and location, but usually include daily breakfast and select dinners. Lunch is often left up to you. Typically, the food is hearty and nutritious, with an emphasis on local cuisine. In many cases, you will also have American-style options for your main course. If you are a vegetarian, suffer from food allergies, or have other special dietary needs, it's important to make these clear in your program application. We try our best to accommodate dietary restrictions. But that may limit where you can complete some program modules.
Accommodation types vary by module and location. We always aim to provide comfortable and safe places to stay, suitable to the program module. Typically, that might mean a hotel on tour, host family during your language course, student hostel for your volunteer service, shared apartment for your internship, and campus residence at EF Leadership Academy. You will usually share a twin-bedded room with at least one other program participant of the same sex. Often, the bathroom and shower facilities are not private, but shared with other rooms in a dorm wing or house.
During your language study, you can request to live in an international student residence, rather than host family, for a supplemental weekly fee (subject to availability).
The focus of our program is to help you become a global citizen. We’re the only organization that prepares you for an international career with hands-on volunteer, work, and leadership experience in several countries. If you just want to volunteer or work abroad for a few weeks, there are many other excellent programs specializing in these areas.
The EF Gap Semester program lets you choose two focuses. Neither of these has to be a language. For example, you can choose Volunteer Service for Module A and Internship for Module B.
We strongly recommend that all EF Gap Year students who are not bilingual begin their program with six weeks of language study. Your volunteer service experience in Latin America will be so much more worthwhile, for example, if you are able to communicate in Spanish. This is also true for any internships you might undertake in Paris, Madrid, Berlin and Milan.
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 Advisor for details.
Our program allows you to choose the country where you would like to do some good. We offer volunteer experiences in the Dominican Republic, Peru, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Nepal and Thailand. Our aim is to introduce you to your host country’s culture and give you a broad overview of the challenges it faces. You will therefore visit several different communities and help out in a number of critical ways: 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 difference in ways that are the most needed.
It is not possible to earn a wage for your internship with our program, due to various international visa, taxation, and contractual restrictions. It may, however, 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 Advisor for details.
HOW TO ENROLL
You must be at least 16 years old to join our program. You must also have a high school diploma or GED. If you are under the age of 18 prior to departure, a parent or legal guardian must co-sign all of your documents.
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. Volunteer service may involve lifting or other manual labor and have little or no access to some amenities. Overseas internship employers, accommodations 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.
However, our philosophy is to accept as many qualified candidates as possible. Your EF Gap Advisor will work with you to determine a program that is suitable to your capabilities, and help you understand the essential program requirements and travel expectations of your planned itinerary.
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 $20,000 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: americangap.org. We also offer flexible payment plans allowing you to pay your program fee in installments (see below).
It is possible to pay the entire program fee at once via credit card or personal check, or to set up a monthly direct debit payment schedule from one of your current bank accounts. Ask your EF Gap Advisor for a full list of payment options. And please see our official Terms & Conditions for further details.
You can withdraw your application on our program at any time before you are officially accepted into the program. We will simply refund your $500 deposit. (Please allow at least 60 days for processing.) Once you officially enroll in the program, you will thereafter be subject to our Standard Cancellation Policy. Please see our official Terms & Conditions for full details.
Yes. You program fee includes a comprehensive medical, cancellation and interruption travel insurance package that can protect you against flight or trip interruption due to family emergencies. While you’re away, you’re also protected against illness and emergencies as well as the loss or damage of your personal belongings.
Ask your EF Gap Advisor for more information about our comprehensive travel insurance package. And please see our official Terms & Conditions for full details about coverage.
PREPARING TO GO
If you are a U.S. citizen, you will not need any special visas to any of the European countries we offer on this program. Based on your itinerary, however, you will need to obtain appropriate visas if you intend to travel, study, volunteer or intern in other countries on your program.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may need to apply for appropriate visas for any or all of the countries to which you intend to travel, study, volunteer or intern on your program.
Please note that it is your responsibility to obtain any travel documents and verifying 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.
A great deal of your basic daily needs are covered by the cost of 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 volunteer service locations, select lunches and dinners whenever you're on tour, and all your meals during your internship as you will be living in an apartment with a kitchen. You'll probably want to budget extra money for souvenirs and gifts. And also note that it is customary to tip your tour guides and tour directors on tour. 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 you pack will greatly depend on how you customize your experience. All EF Gap students begin their adventure in London with Orientation and then join a two-week Welcome Tour of Europe. Whether you start in September or January, the weather can be quite variable—from hot and sunny to cool and wet—so plan to bring both summer and winter weight clothing that can be worn in layers. If you're studying or volunteering in Latin America, you won't want to forget to bring shorts, sturdy hiking boots, and swimwear. Gap Year students traveling to Australia in Semester 2 should also remember that it will be summer at that time of year. And anyone planning 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 quite useful for the language study module of your program. Most students also bring their cell phones, but they usually avoid expensive international calling and data fees by either pre-buying international plans through their carriers, or purchasing prepaid cards.
There are no set rules. In fact, this tends to be a highly individual decision. It all depends on how independent you want your 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 advisors and staff are always nearby to offer advice and support.
We discourage visits from family members while you're on our program. To get the most out of your experience, it's always best to immerse yourself in it completely. Plus every module of your program is thoughtfully planned to maximize the time you're studying or volunteering or interning. So there's very little time when a family visit might make sense. It's far better for gap year students to use their winter break for catching up with family and friends. That said, parents are always welcome to travel to London (at their own expense) to attend your final gala banquet and awards ceremony. We just ask that you kindly share their travel plans in advance with your EF Gap Advisor.