When it comes to researching gap year programs, maybe you’re looking for an opportunity to learn more about yourself, define your interests, and pursue your passions. Perhaps, you’re interested in a gap year program that packs as much fun and adventure as possible into a year. Or maybe you want a way to earn some money and add work experience to your resume. Looking, researching, and choosing the best gap year program can be overwhelming and daunting as the options are seemingly endless. That’s why we’ve narrowed down the search to six gap year programs that will broaden your horizons, whether you choose to work or volunteer abroad.
1. LANGUAGECORPS – TEACHING ENGLISH ABROAD
Founded in 2003, LanguageCorps specializes in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certification and job placement assistance for teaching English abroad. This gap year program runs in 23 different locations throughout Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East and includes both teachers training and job search assistance.
WHY THIS GAP YEAR PROGRAM: Program participants develop cross-cultural and leadership skills, while having the chance to travel internationally and gain professional work experience.
2. INTEREXCHANGE – AU PAIR
Interexchange’s au pair program matches au pairs with host families in Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain. Au pairs assist with housework and child care, in exchange for room and board and a small salary. In addition to providing training and language courses, this is a great gap year program for those looking to live abroad, while also making some money.
WHY THIS GAP YEAR PROGRAM: Being an au pair fosters skills like patience, responsibility and inter-cultural communication. It’s a great chance to meet other au pairs from around the world, as well as learn what it’s like to live as the locals do.
3. MARK WARNER RECRUITMENT – CATERING
Spend part of your gap year in a European ski resort surrounded by mountains and snowy peaks. Mark Warner recruits sous, commis, and head chefs for several chalet hotels in Austria, France and Italy. Workers on this gap year program are tasked with food preparation, cooking, deliveries and the general running of the kitchen.
WHY THIS GAP YEAR PROGRAM: This gap year program is ideal for anyone interested in pursuing a career in culinary arts, tourism and hospitality, or simply love to ski. It also offers a competitive salary and room and board.
WWOOF, or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is gap year program that offers food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles, in exchange for volunteer help. Depending on the placement, volunteers can take part in a variety of tasks – from harvesting and cutting wood, to cheese and making.
WHY THIS GAP YEAR PROGRAM: This gap year program is a cost-free alternative to many volunteer programs that require volunteers to cover their own room and board. In addition, volunteers learn hands-on about organic growing techniques and can go almost anywhere in the world (WWOOF operates in over 100 countries!)
5. RALEIGH INTERNATIONAL EXPEDITIONS
Raleigh International Expedition’s aim is to bring together young people and local communities in Nepal, Malaysian Borneo, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Tanzania. Gap year program participants live and work alongside locals in remote rural communities, learning from one another and sharing traditions and customs. The communities where they work are often very remote – places where not many tourists have access.
WHY THIS GAP YEAR PROGRAM: These adventure-packed trips are a way for volunteers to be truly immersed in a local culture.However, this is not an opportunity for the faint-of-heart – the expeditions are challenging and, as their motto states, “this is an expedition into life.”
WorldStamp is a gap year program with opportunities in India, Guatemala, and Costa Rica that take place over the course of nine months. The program interweaves volunteer service work, cultural immersion, and world travel. Volunteers assist with a wide range of activities dependent on the country they choose – including women’s empowerment, elephant care, and education.
WHY THIS GAP YEAR PROGRAM: Volunteers stay in communities that WorldStamp has strong ties with, ensuring both safety and quality of experience. Having the chance to volunteering in a variety of fields helps participants challenge themselves and find their purpose, returning home with a better idea about how to make a difference in their own communities.