Why I wish I had taken a gap year

To defer or not to defer, that is the question. When you’re at school, age is a huge thing. To be a few years older or younger than someone can be a defining factor in whether you can be friends with someone (mainly due to the fact that you will be at different moments of development and maturity). I applied to uni with this attitude to an extent… and it meant that I didn’t take a gap year as I didn’t want to be the older person in a freshers’ flat.

I realised as soon as I got to uni that age no longer works that way. I’m now in my second year and one of my closest friends is three years older than me. Age simply isn’t a friendship determinate anymore.

Of course, there were other reasons why I didn’t take a gap year. I wanted to finish my studies as while I was as young as possible, as I was planning on studying a PhD and being a university lecturer and researcher. However, within the first half of term, I knew this job wouldn’t be for me. I am now working on being a freelance travel writer, and obviously, a year of travelling would have helped me a lot in providing me with experience and content. I also knew that if I had taken a year out of education I wouldn’t have wanted to return – I love my degree, but sitting in a library for hours on end versus wandering around another country? There really is an obvious answer for me.

Many of my friends went on gap years, and they all say that it was one of their best decisions. Some have worked abroad, others volunteered and a few went solo travelling (mainly around Asia – the typical gap year destination!). A common theme amongst them is that they developed a further understanding of different cultures, and of themselves (yes, it really is a thing where people ‘find themselves’ on their gap yah). However, despite my jokes, I really do think that taking a year out helps you to develop as a person, and enter into uni as an individual who has more self-confidence.

Oh god, I wish I’d taken one now!

If you’re like me, don’t despair! I may regret not taking a year out, but I’m not going to dwell on the ‘could haves’. There is always after your degree! There are loads of programmes that you could go on, such as teaching in other countries for a year, or even working abroad (if you love your job you may not even feel like you’re working!).

Another solution to your travelling woes is to travel during the uni holidays. They are long enough to go somewhere for a few weeks, and I am taking full advantage of this. I find that by having a holiday to look forward to after a particularly stressful term really motivates me to work my butt off so that I can enjoy my trip to its full extent in full knowledge that I worked hard in the previous term.

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