Thinking on self-development?

by BrendaHart

Deciding to defer entry into university or the world of work for a year is a big decision. Travelling is a great way to meet new people, formulate future plans and learn.

The worst Halloween ever

Making the decision to travel the world for a year isn’t as easy as some might think. It’s not like the (very) old days when young heiresses would travel Europe on a whim – far from it in fact. In these days of economic belt-tightening and eco-consciousness, many view the act of travelling as needlessly self-indulgent.


While my friends embark on university courses and the promise of future security, I’ve been reading up on road trip novels as prep for my upcoming tour of the US by car. Depending on who I’ve listened to, the main pros and cons of taking some time out before re-entering full-time education are as follows:


Time to reflect

‘Spending a little time travelling will give you the freedom to decide what you really want to do. University is expensive – make the wrong choice of course and you’ll be regretting it long after.’

        I think there’s some truth in this. I know quite a few people who have chosen non-specific degrees such as psychology or English because they don’t really know what they want to do as a career. I don’t want to spend three years of my life studying something just for the sake of being a student. 


Do it while you’re young

‘Make the most of being young and carefree while you can – you may never get another chance.’

        This seems to be true as well. I’ve seen what the world of work does to people. Climbing the career ladder doesn’t equate very well with taking a year out. Then there’s the weight of a family, mortgage and other monetary responsibilities...

Broaden your horizons

‘Travelling broadens the mind and makes you a better person.’

 - I quite like the idea of starting university with a little experience of the world. I think I’ll be happier to put my heart into studying if I’ve satisfied the urge to travel beforehand.


What’s the most important thing for self-development?


Getting left behind

‘Your friends will be a year ahead of you.’

        While this might matter to some people, it doesn’t to me. I’m hoping to meet lots of new friends while travelling.


‘Travelling is expensive – more than you might think.’

        I’m hoping to join some voluntary courses while I’m away that provide food and somewhere to crash. That should help keep costs down.

Why go elsewhere?

 ‘You can find everything you need right here.’

        For those on a pre-masters Bristol or any other major UK hub is exciting. For me, Britain seems a little staid. I’m ready for something completely different.

A whole year?

‘A year is too long. Most people are satisfied with a two-week break.’

    I can’t go to uni until the following September so I may as well make the most of it. Otherwise I might end up waitressing all year and not doing anything constructive.

Resource Box


The Guardian

Working as a TEFL teacher.

Direct Gov

Gap year options for those studying on an English course UK based.


Comprehensive resource for those taking a gap year.

Updated: 01/03/2012, BrendaHart
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