gap year

Gap year. What is it and is it really worth taking a pause in life?

Gap year in Western culture most often refers to the period between college and the start of the first job. This time – a kind of break in life to adapt to new conditions, gain experience or get away from responsibilities altogether, among other things – is quite often used to travel. However, this is not a rigid terminology, and the term gap year itself can refer to shorter or longer pauses between life stages.

Gap year – meaning

As we mentioned in the introduction, the term gap year itself refers to a kind of break, a pause in life, the purpose of which is either to adapt to a new environment, conditions, work, industry or environment in general, but also a simple rest from daily responsibilities.

The terminology itself, derived from the words gap, meaning a hole, a break, as well as a year (year) makes it clear that a gap year is the purest form of a break. Not necessarily a year, however, as it all depends on the person himself who decides to go into this period. It can be either 6 months, a year, but also two years as well as more.

Gap year – when is it appropriate to pause?

It is accepted that the gap year is most often used by recent college graduates who want to “gulp” the world and simply “live” before entering the job market, getting under the wheels of credit mechanisms, daily professional and family responsibilities. The point is that gap year does not apply only to this group of people, and it works perfectly for both young people and those who want to change their lives.

More and more often we can meet people who, after several years of working in one profession, come to the conclusion that the duties they perform do not please them, they are overtired or do not find themselves in the world, into which they were often thrust by accident, e.g. straight from the university. In such a situation, where there is a need for a change of life, industry, profession and sometimes even country, gap year works just as well as for students who apply a break between their studies and their first job.

Read also: Common questions during a job interview

Another equally common reason why many people enter a gap year is a relationship, or more precisely, a desire for change. After years with a partner, a situation may arise in which we no longer feel what we felt for the other person at the beginning. A break “from everything,” a complete detachment from the environment in which we have been revolving, and not infrequently a change of residence, can cause the next stages of life to be well thought out, and we have time to close one stage and enter a new one.

Gap year, as you can see, is not only a term that can be used in professional life, or just before entering the job market, but also – or perhaps even primarily – a circumlocution that can be used in any context. The important thing to remember is that it is meant to take a break between important stages of our lives.

Benefits of the gap year

The biggest benefit of a gap year is naturally time. Time dedicated solely to ourselves and what we feel like doing, not what is forced upon us. Whether it’s a relationship, work, studies. During the break, it is quite common to visit many countries, often without much preparation. Young people who decide to take a gap year very often pack a backpack and go exploring the world, and call themselves backpackers (backpackers), which is supposed to testify precisely to “life on the road” without any burdens.

benefits of gap year
The benefits of gap year are mostly distance and relaxation. Photo: Juan Movano/Canva

Backpackers travel cheap, sleep cheap, eat cheap. They live a “full life,” gaining distance, learning, meeting people, new environments, cultures. During this time they very often make decisions about the next stages of their lives, which is extremely often the best choice they make.

Distance and a kind of mental detachment from the world that people know during the gap year are by far the greatest benefits that can be experienced. “Backpacking” also allows one to gain humility, self-discipline, skills that are very often useful in later life.

The situation is no different for those who enter the gap year as part of a career pause or even a complete redeployment. Changing from one job to another is a stage that can be a significant burden for many people. Adjusting to the new conditions after previously overworked, mentally and physically exhausted, without a prior “chillout” of several months, can prove to be too much of a challenge and instead of enjoying the new stage of life, after a while we will be in the same position as before.

Is it worth doing a gap year?

We’ve largely written about it above, but it’s worth emphasizing again in two sentences how much of a plus it can be to have a pause of sorts in life. Here we will use the example of a toxic relationship and a hated job. Being stuck in an impasse from which we see no way out on a daily basis, agonizing over both with a person for whom we no longer feel the way we did in the beginning, getting up for a job we hate, can lead to a situation where we don’t know who we are or what we want to do next.

This is especially evident in thirty-somethings who went to their first available job right after college and stayed there for another decade. In the meantime, they met the person they connected with, started a family and took out loans. Children were born, and after a few years, getting out of bed, this model thirty-year-old doesn’t know who he is and nothing makes him happy. This is a clear sign that depression is setting in.

Entering adulthood is a stage that should result in responsible decisions, but a good number of us are pushed into it, so we don’t have time to prepare for it properly, and this is where a gap year will work perfectly. It is important to set ourselves up for the transition from one period to another during this time, and not blindly go with the flow, hoping that life will sort itself out.

The analogy is the same when we want to change anything else in life, no matter how old we are, where we come from or what we do for a living. Gap year – planned – can be an excellent step into a new, thoughtful and, most importantly, better stage of our lives.

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