My Gap Year Experience


Since results day was last week and lots of people are now planning what they are going to do this year, I thought I would share my gap year experience with you all, to maybe give you some ideas if you're taking a gap year. This post is a collaboration with the lovely Jordan from Hello Miss Jordan, because we both took gap years for very different reasons and did different things, so we thought this may be useful for some of you!
So my gap year story- I came to the UK when I was 15 and skipped year 11 so when I finished my A-Levels I had just turned 17. This means that if I'd gone to university straight away, I would have still been 17 for eight months. This would have caused lots of problems since I wouldn't have been able to for example sign a tenancy agreement for a house or anything, so I chose to apply for deferred entry and take a gap year.
For my gap year I moved back to Germany to live with my parents and tried to find a job, which proved to be much more difficult than I thought because it turns out that people don't really want to hire a 17 year old girl with no experience! So I ended up not doing much apart from the odd bit of work experience (which by the way showed me that I did not want to become a photographer, so I guess that was useful!). I did take up cheerleading though, which I really enjoyed and where I met some lovely girls who I became really good friends with.


During my gap year I was in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend who was at university in England, which was really hard because we wouldn't see each other for months and I had very little to distract me from the fact that I missed him a lot. We broke up suddenly just after I turned 18, so that is where the Eat, Pray, Love part of this story begins...
I'd always wanted to travel at the end of my gap year, once I had turned 18. Initially I wanted to do a full around the world tour but I quickly realised that I had neither the funds nor the time to do it properly, so I settled for two weeks of travelling in Thailand and a month of volunteering in India. I didn't have much of a plan for these things, I did the volunteering in India with an organisation so those four weeks were all organised for me, but I didn't decide when I was going to fly back and I also didn't have any plans for Thailand.
I arrived in Thailand having booked a hostel in Bangkok for the first two nights, with no plans other than 'I have to be back here in three weeks for my flight to India', and that was probably one of the best things I've ever done! I met so many incredible people and it was amazing just being able to spontaneously decide where to go and what to do. I ended up not travelling around too much because I really enjoyed where I was in Phuket, but I had an amazing time. I started in Bangkok, flew to Phuket, then took a bus to Koh Samui where I stayed for one night and realised I hated it, so I moved on to Koh Phangang and then eventually got a train back to Bangkok. I think my time in Thailand really helped me grow as a person, as cheesy as it sounds, because I was forced to just meet people wherever I went and make friends with strangers and I became so much more confident and independent in those two weeks.




After Thailand I moved on to India, where I had an induction week in Bangalore to meet the other volunteers and learned a bit more about the projects, as well as doing some sight seeing and going on a two day trip to Mysore. After the induction week we all went to our separate projects, so all the young people I'd made friends with went off to a little village called Kundapur and I went to Mysore so live in a host family together with another German woman who I did not get on with at all. The next three weeks were really difficult for me. My host family was amazing and I was really glad I was with them because they made such an effort to make me feel at home. I think my host mother was really happy to have me because she had two sons, so she loved teaching me how to cook Indian dishes, helping me to put on my sari in the morning etc., things she obviously couldn't do with her sons. My volunteer work was teaching at a school, which was really difficult since no one there spoke English and I wasn't seen as an authority figure, so I really struggled. There were some amazing moments, like when I taught a class to sing 'Yellow Submarine', but there were also a lot of moments when I just wanted to go home. Especially having just gone through a terrible breakup, I felt really alone a lot of the time and counted down the days until I could leave. After my volunteering was over, I chose to spend another week in India to meet up with the other volunteers again. We met up in Hampi, which was honestly one of the most amazing weekends of my life, and then went back to Kundapur for a week, where they continued their volunteering while I just relaxed and met up with them in the evenings (and sometimes in the morning for yoga at the temple!). The next weekend we went to Goa, which was also incredibly fun, where we then said goodbye as they went back to Kundapur and I flew home.




This post ended up being quite an essay, I apologize for that! In short, I had an amazing experience and although I was very homesick at times, I think it really helped me become more independent and sure of myself. I definitely recommend travelling (although I wouldn't recommend travelling through India by yourself), because you meet so many people along the way who influence you, even though you will probably never see them again. Having just gone through a breakup I did struggle with feeling alone and being sad at times, and I'm not going to lie: I didn't miraculously get over him and I didn't meet the love of my life while I was away. But I did become a more outgoing and confident person in the space of just two months and if I had the opportunity I would definitely do it again!

I hope this post was helpful in some way if you're thinking of taking a gap year. If you want any more information about the things I did or you have any questions please don't hesitate to post in the comments or send me an email at alliec713@gmail.com, I would love to help you out! Also make sure you read Jordan's post about her gap year because her story is like something you'd read in a romance novel.

No comments