Friday, 4 July 2014

The gap year question

Mostly, the first question is 'why?'.

That's understandable. There have been times when I, too, have pulled a face at someone intending to spend a year (presumably) spending Daddy's money and 'saving' children in under-developed countries from their own culture.

That's why I never planned anything of the sort, and I applied to university with the full intention of starting Autumn 2014, as did most of my peers. My first choice uni, however, had other ideas for me.

This particular uni has different 'colleges', the function of which is mainly to provide accommodation and food. I applied to a certain college, aware that, in the majority of cases, where you stay makes very little difference to your degree experience. After several interviews and weeks of antagonising waiting, I was eventually given an offer - but from a different college.

In this case, there was a fairly major difference - the offer was for Autumn 2015 instead.

It took me perhaps a week of stress and distress to see the reasons for this postponed offer, or 'deferral'. That particular college especially values gap years for language students, as they arrive a year wiser and with a year's more experience in that language. And as lots of last year's applicants were given offers for this year, there were hardly any places left for non-gap year students like me.

Essentially, the choice was to take a gap year, or not go to my first choice university at all. And I really did not want to turn them down.

So I started to research the area. Working in Europe seemed really risky - what if I lost my job and couldn't afford my rent? There were plenty of volunteering and work experience schemes, but all were extortionate and many seemed a bit dubious. Just as I had resigned myself to defeat, I found the European Voluntary Service.

They offer many thousands of projects, mostly from 6 months to a year, doing what you choose to do, and whereyou want to be. Possible most important for me was this: you get accommodation, food and an allowance, so no more nightmares of starving in some European street somewhere.

I now have a project arranged for the start of September (more details in this post) and I finally feel excited for what is happening, no longer as though the god of university offers is tormenting me! And importantly, I am not spending thousands of my family's money, nor am I going to 'save the world'. But I will come back with better skills and quite possibly my efforts will have helped some other people, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment