If one of your biggest questions is “Why should I do a gap year?” we’ve got a few answers to convince you to take the plunge. Your future self will thank you.
By Allie Metz
Taking a gap year is a big decision. For many, it can seem like you’re pausing your life or career progression for an extended holiday. The fear is that, upon returning home, you’ll be left behind your peers in terms of some of life’s major milestones. Fortunately, that’s really not the case. A gap year is a great time for gaining experience, self-discovery and learning new skills that can help you in your studies or your career - making it a truly worthwhile experience. Plus, you will have the time of your life.
A gap year can come in many forms - you can take a year off after high school and before college, in the middle of your studies, or after you graduate university and before you start working. In Australia, as long as you’re between the ages of 18 and 30 (18 and 35 for Canadian, French and Irish citizens) when you apply, there’s no wrong time to come Down Under on a Working Holiday visa.
So what’s in it for you? We’ve compiled a list of the top reasons to do a gap year in Australia:
Earning money while you travel will allow you to stay longer and explore further. This means you can go beyond the main highlights of a country and get deeper into the culture. In Australia you can discover outback gems like Kakadu and Arnhem Land, or visit smaller islands such as Rottnest or Lady Elliot Island. Not only will you be fascinated by the wildlife, history and stunning landscapes of each destination, but you’ll leave with serious bragging rights. However – we should warn you – the more you discover, the more you’ll want to see.
Taking a gap year when you’re young can be ideal for a number of reasons. First of all, being young means you probably have fewer responsibilities that could hold you back, such as a mortgage, career or family. You’re still free to focus on yourself before you become tied down with the obligations of adulthood. It’s the perfect time to throw caution to the wind and take off on an unforgettable adventure. Ask yourself - if not now, when?
Even if you have already dipped your toe into adulthood, it’s not too late to take some time out and discover another part of the world. You may be feeling burnt out in your career, thinking of a change or just in need of a break. Being a bit older can even have its advantages when it comes to taking a gap year. Your experience at university or in the working world has made you more confident and you know what you want to get out of your time away. It’s a fantastic way to reignite your curiosity for learning, explore possible careers through hands-on field work and make international industry contacts in your field.
Making big decisions that will affect your future can be a stressful exercise in faith. You may not be sure what career you want - or even what you want to study. Or maybe you’ve started your career or university degree but you aren’t sure if you’ve made the right choice. Taking a gap year is the perfect way to explore different options, discover your passions and let life lead you down a new and promising career path.
Even if your career path is already mapped out, a gap year can provide substantial benefits to the development of your professional skills and personal character. Professionally, it’s an opportunity to gain global insights into your industry by working in that field in another country. Whether it’s volunteer work or a full-time role, you’ll get the chance to see how things are done differently and come back with a broader perspective and new ideas to share. You’ll also make valuable industry contacts and learn new skills that could potentially help you reach the next stage in your career.
Moving to another country is easily one of the most adventurous things you can do. It’s confronting and a bit scary to get out of your comfort zone, but the thrill and excitement of it all will make it totally worth it. You’ll make lifelong friends, discover incredible destinations and have experiences that challenge and excite you. Whether it’s skydiving over the Great Barrier Reef, diving with great white sharks, or just meeting new people, Australia is full of opportunities to overcome your fears and adventures you can't help but brag about.
One of the most incredible things about travel is the chance to meet people from different backgrounds. Having exposure to other cultures and walks of life will help you develop greater empathy and appreciation for different ways of living. In addition to meeting other travellers like yourself, Australia is a truly multicultural country. Aboriginal culture is the oldest continuous culture in the world, thought to be at least 50,000 years old. Experiencing some of the traditions and customs, learning about their connection to the land and hearing their stories is a great way to connect to the history of the country. Australia is also home to immigrants and descendents of immigrants from nearly every country in the world. Thanks to its proximity, there’s a large Asian influence as well as influences from across Europe. You'll get the chance to experience it through everything from art to food and festivals when you visit Australia.
Being employable is all about standing out, and what better way to separate yourself from the pack than exploring a different part of the world? After an unforgettable year in Australia, you’ll be seen as someone who is curious, courageous, independent and more mature than your peers. You’ll learn soft skills in your everyday life such as teamwork, negotiation skills and budgeting, while any type of job you have will teach you practical skills related to that line of work. If English is not your native language, it’s also a great opportunity to improve your language skills in a truly immersive way. All of these things can help you stand out when applying for graduate programs or your dream job.