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The Best (and worst!) Things About Going on a Gap Year

Once you finish your A-Levels, you're faced with making one of many decisions. You're told you can go to university (which I think is the most popular option for many people), or you can start working, or you can even take a gap year. The attitudes towards gap years have definitely improved in recent years, making more and more young people defer going to university. And gap years can be brilliant, definitely, but they can also... how should I say this... not turn out to be what you planned.

After much deliberation, I've decided that I am now an advocate for taking a year or two out of your studies to do absolutely whatever you want to do! My own gap year has seen a lot more free time that I honestly don't think I would have done had I gone straight to university. If you want to go live abroad for a year, you have the power to do so without being hindered by impending tasks and assignments. And if you want to finally do the things that all other 18 years olds seem to be doing, you can do so too! I can't express how I feel when I see my friends driving their own cars, while I'm stuck walking (ugh!) everywhere I go.

I also love that I've been able to take up learning a new language. Now, I'm not always consistent in learning my Korean (or the Spanish I've neglected for years...) but not being in school has given me the time to do a little bit here and there. If you've always wanted to learn Dutch, or French or even Chinese, you've got the chance to do so now!

If you're thinking of taking a gap year for more practical reasons, like getting a job and saving up some money, then you can do that too! University debt is such a daunting thought, and saving up as much as you can before going is a very smart idea.

So, what's the catch? It all sounds pretty amazing, right? Having all hours in the day to do whatever you want. Well, one thing I'm worried about is having to learn how to study again! A nursing degree (which is what I'm going for) is pretty hectic, and I'm gonna have to balance assignments and lectures and placements all together. It sounds pretty exhausting just thinking about it! I think after not being in education for a while the thought of going back to full time education is just that bit more daunting.

Another downside is that seeing all your friends off at university living the student life could make you feel as though you're "missing out" on the whole thing. But, with this I just make myself remember that I'm gonna be going soon too! It's not like I'll miss out on university completely, I'll just be joining them later.

If you haven't planned to take a gap year (like me...), then jumping straight into one after your exams may not be such a great idea. Like with all things, a gap year takes time and planning. What are you gonna be doing, exactly? How are you gonna accomplish the goals you've (hopefully) set for yourself? Definitely some things to think about.

If a gap year sounds like something you definitely want to do, then by all means, go for it! A lot of university students often wish they took some time out of studying full time to reflect. I personally used my gap year to switch degrees to something that I am more passionate about. But, don't let the thought of having a year off lead you astray! Have a clear plan and some clear goals you want to achieve, so you'll have something to look back on and remember.

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