Why I Wish I Took a Gap Year

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

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Leaving home and going to University after finishing my A Levels was always the plan - I never once thought otherwise. A few of my closest friends weren't heading off at the same time as me due to retakes, or longer courses, but none of them took a 'gap year' as such. I'd never really thought of it as a big deal. Yet here I am, a year and a half into my degree, wishing I had taken that all important year out from education, to spend time reflecting on who I am. Don't get me wrong; I am very grateful that I went off to uni when I did. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have met some of my absolute best friends, nor would I have met my boyfriend. I would not have some of the amazing memories that I have made over the last 18 months, and I wouldn't change that for the world. That being said, I can definitely see where a gap year would have benefitted me, and here is why...

01: The difference in teaching styles between A Levels and University
After going through a seven year school system leading up to your GCSEs, always being taught in the same style, the leap to A Levels can seem like quite a significant one. Although the content gets much more taxing, and there is far more to remember and understand, the same style carries on for another two years. Moving from one teaching style that you have been so indoctrinated with for almost ten years, onto a remarkably different teaching style, is a bigger feat than is ever made known. It's no secret that I found the difference completely overwhelming, and was the main factor of my almost drop-out after the first semester of first year. If I were to have taken a year away from education entirely, I would have been able to clear my head of everything that had been drilled into it for such a long period of time, and had time to think and reflect. To jump straight from one style to another was definitely not the best thing for me.

02: To go travelling for a year after your degree isn't quite the same
A lot of people have said to me not to feel regretful for not taking a gap year, as there is plenty of opportunity to go travelling and find myself after I've graduated - which I highly doubt. I'm sure that a lot of people do it, and I'm sure that they are successful in finding a decent job on their return, but it seems like a much harder way of doing things. When you jet off across the world for a year, you know that there is something waiting back home for you at the end of it. Unless you have a job locked down for the year after, if you go travelling after your degree, you are coming home to literally nothing... and that is terrifying.

03: Preparing for the social aspect of university
Although I would never class myself as an anti-social person, as I love nothing more than spending quality time with my family and my friends, I'm not the same as every other university student. I'm an introvert: I like to spend a lot of time on my own, I fear for meeting new people, and I'd much rather spend a quiet night at home than go drinking on a night out. That's not to say that I'm not a confident person - when put in positions out of my comfit zone I manage well, but they are definitely out of my comfort zone. If I had been travelling as part of a gap year, I would have picked up different ways of communicating with complete strangers, and would have felt a lot more comfortable in a drinking situation.

Did any of you go on a gap year? Where would you go if given the chance? Leave me a comment!

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