If you had asked me at the end of Year 12 what it was I hoped to achieve from taking a Gap Year, I, like many students in my position would have shared with you my vision to take a break from study and gain a job in order to support myself at university. Little did I know I would gain so much more from one single year, out there in the ‘real world’! As the Year 12 QTAC offers edge closer, I would like to share with you the top three life lessons I gained from taking a Gap Year!
- Gaining a job often isn’t as easy as it sounds
It is so easy to want a job. At the beginning of my Gap Year, I did not have a job. Many kids at school had one, so I thought, ‘surely it can’t be that hard to land one myself’! I was an extremely studious student with the grades to match, participated in many extra-curricular activities and was a proud leader of my school…who wouldn’t want to hire me! At the beginning of my Gap Year, I was among many unemployed people. This was magnified by the 2013 Bundaberg flood, the largest in the town’s history since January 1890. One of the main shopping centres, Hinkler Central, was flooded, forcing many people into the job market around town. I very quickly learnt not only how to improve my resume in order to make myself look more appealing on paper, but also that it was very much a case of the old saying ‘it’s who you know, not what you know’. Although all of my wonderful results and extra-curricular activities looked good on paper, it wasn’t until I put myself out there and started following up employers (yes, lots of them don’t send out a rejection letter…they just keep you hanging) and being more proactive in my hunt for employment that I started to receive any response and subsequently land myself a job.
- Maintaining friendships becomes more difficult
Until you leave school, you are unaware of how fortunate you are to be able to see your closest friends every day of the school week! Life outside of school can become very lonely. Everyone begins to go their separate ways – working, travelling, moving out of home, going to university and just generally starting a life away from school. There will be some friends who you lose touch with as the common thread that you had with them, school, is no longer a part of either of your lives. Your friendship group will reduce, however those friendships that do last are extremely precious and many will last a lifetime. You may only catch up once a year due to various commitments, but if it feels like your last catch up was only yesterday, you know you are a part of a true friendship.
- A Gap Year gives you headspace
During Year 12, I was so caught up in all of my academic pursuits and extra-curricular activities within the school that when I left school, I felt extremely lost as to who I really was. My Gap Year provided me with the headspace I required in order to truly find out who I was, what my real pursuits for the rest of my life were and where I wanted to take my life. It was no longer a case of ‘oh yeah…that sounds pretty good – I could give that a go’ type of attitude, but rather ‘This is reality. What do I want to do with it and how can I make a difference?’ This led me to make some life changing decisions, such as changing my degree, my university, my college…basically uprooting all of my plans that I thought I wanted, to suit what the more mature and developed, real-world aware Alice wanted to do with herself. Obviously not everyone can expect to go through such a large life epiphany in their Gap Year, but personally, it was the best decision I possibly could have made for that point in my life.
Of course, the life lessons I have outlined in this blog are certainly not all-inclusive and will be different for everyone. The point I am trying to make here is that if you are considering a Gap Year, it could very well be the best decision you ever make. Everyone needs and gets different things out of the year, but I believe it can truly change who we are as people and our outlooks on the rest of our lives. Please feel free to share your Gap Year experiences in the comments below!
P.S. As this is my last blog for the year, I would just like to send a great big thank you to everyone who has supported me in this endeavour throughout the year. I hope you have found my blogs informative and interesting and wish you all the best for what lies ahead.