A focused gap year is the road to self-discovery, independence and new adventures for many young Canadians.

If you’re reading this post you’re probably considering gap year.  Congratulations!  More and more Canadians are taking the time to learn about themselves, and other places, before continuing their education.

What exactly is a gap year?

Well, it’s a period of time spent away from school, generally while travelling.  In the past, many people thought of backpacking when they imagined a gap year.  Now, more travellers are choosing to pursue gap years with a purpose.  Goals vary, but we often hear from those interested in expanding their skill-set, be that gaining a new language, working internationally in a specific field or simply taking a break from their hometown. The new generations of Canadians aren’t willing to wait until retirement to travel, or rush into degrees they’re not totally sure about.  This reluctance to settle has lead to a rise in gap year participation. After all, why pay to study French in university when you could gain a better grasp of French language and culture by spending a year abroad (basically for free)?

Here are our top reasons to take a gap year:

  1. School isn’t going anywhere.  Your courses will still be here when you come back.  If you’re ready for a break, take it!  Students who have taken a gap year actually do better academically than students straight out of high school or those who haven’t taken a gap year. (O’Shea, 2013).  If you’re sick of school, there might be a reason.  Take a gap year, and return to school refreshed! 
  2. Change your perspective.  There has never been a better time to challenge yourself, meet new people and learn about your interests.  A gap year can be an opportunity for introspection and change.  Seeing new places expands our perspective in a wonderful way and lets us see beyond our day-to-day.  Plus, who doesn’t want to be a bit more interesting? Be that cool person who has friends from 20 countries, knows what you HAVE to do in Australia, or speaks conversational Italian.  A year abroad can  shape your personality,
  3. Improve your resumé.  We all know a resumé has to be professional, but the ability to stand out among similar resumés is crucial.   International experience looks great to potential employers, especially if field-specific.  Not sure what career you’re after?  A gap year shows courage, adaptability and confidence (and maybe some language skills!).  Employers want more than a nice grade point average; they’re looking for independent employees who bring unique life experiences to the table!
  4. Reawaken your curiosity.   We all love being at home watching Netflix, but what about the outside world? Remember that?  A gap year teaches you to be interested in life again, to explore, to be curious and to learn.  A gap year can give you the mental framework to take on more new, exciting challenges – be they academic, professional or personal! 
  5. Learn from amazing experiences.  A well-designed gap year is more than a one-way ticket and a great tan.  Taking a year for yourself is wonderful, but learning about a new language or culture is invaluable.  Fellini said, “a different language is a different vision of life,” and the same is true of a new culture.  The most intensive type of course is a gap year.  You learn so, so much about topics you never knew existed.  It’s almost like falling in love for the first time.  Every new fact you learn is interesting, every plan is amazing, every word is so important and every moment is your new favourite moment. 

Should I take a gap year?







Thanks for reading (and sharing) this article!  For more about our gap year & summer work opportunities, check out this interview with Au Pair in America and Au Pair in China, Christina.