Here’s What To Do in a Gap Year

Written by Mollie Welch

  • Publish Date: January 2nd, 2021

If you’re thinking about taking a gap year after high school or during college, it can be daunting to figure out what kinds of activities would merit taking a pause from school.

After the intensity of high school, it’s normal to need some time to breathe, even if you don’t know what you want to do with your gap year, semester, or summer yet.

A gap year offers so many opportunities for self-discovery and growth. You can experience the world off the beaten path, acquire some crucial life experiences, and use the new lens with which you see the world to design a future that you’re excited about. 

Wondering what to do in a gap year?

Taking a break from school won’t hurt your grades. As a matter of fact, gap year students to achieve higher GPAs and more leadership roles compared to peers who didn’t. To make the most of your gap experience, it’s important to clearly define what you want from this time. Here are a few ways you can spend your gap.

Travel the world.

Life unfolds quickly, you might not get the opportunity to travel stress-free again for months on end. Take the opportunity to see the world now.  

International travel launches you straight out of your comfort zone and into a feast of new experiences to enjoy. It gets your mind off the stresses of day-to-day life and gets you interested in other cultures and cuisines. You’ll meet new people—possible lifelong friends—and see new possibilities for your life at home. There are so many ways to explore. You can combine outdoor adventures like hiking and trekking with cultural experiences like museum and market visits.  is an excellent way for you to unwind and relieve your mind and body from the chaos of life. 

These adventures can improve your health and alleviating stress anxiety—making you feel better inside and out. They can also make you feel more creative, which makes learning easier, more fun and more effective once you get back to class. 

Participate in service learning.

One of the most fulfilling ways to spend your gap is supporting others. It’s important to be intentional about the ways you go about making an impact. Service learning is a philosophy combines educational objectives with hands-on experience as a vehicle to help you become a better global citizen. It’s about supporting community organizations and following their lead, so that you don’t cause damage. 

You’ll engage with local communities and NGOs to get a comprehensive understanding of structural issues and collaborate alongside them to follow through on community needs. Take these learnings with you and apply them to your own life. 

Improve your language skills.

We are living in an era of increased globalization. Cross-cultural communication is more important than ever, especially in the workplace. Some career opportunities favor individuals who can speak at least two languages. Learning a new language can also be really fun and make you more confident and culturally literate. 

Learning a new language has cognitive benefits too. Bilingual individuals may have excellent memories and enhanced concentration, problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Learning a new language also wraps your brain around multitasking and coping with complex situations. The best way to learn a language is by immersing yourself in another culture. Try enrolling in a language school in the destination of your choice so can appreciate the local community, their language, customs, values, and culture. 

Get internship experience.

An internship will help you put what your hunch about what you’d like to do in life to the test real-world experience. You’ll learn what it’s like to work for a company, gain experience in a certain field, enhance your leadership skill, and gain a competitive advantage when applying for jobs later on. A great internship experience will also help you improve your professional network. 

Bringing it all together.

A gap year program can help you do all of these things. With EF Gap Year, you can travel the world, do service learning project, learn a language, and complete an internship. You design the entire experience. And you can earn college credit! Take a look at our programs.

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.

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