Every study abroad experience is special and unique, but some people like to take a more unconventional route to study abroad. In my case, I chose to take a gap year abroad before attending a university. I decided to study abroad in the city of Granada, Spain and had the amazing opportunity to attend the University of Granada and live with a host family over the course of a semester.
Here are five reasons why I chose to take a gap year abroad:
One of the main advantages of choosing to study abroad during a gap year is that it greatly increases the choices that are available to you. A gap year after high school gives you the opportunity to do, essentially, anything you want to without being limited or restricted by the requirements of a university or other institution. As a result, taking a gap year not only means that you have the freedom to choose where you want to go in the world, but also what program you want to go with, how long you want to stay, whether or not you want to do an internship.
Taking a gap year abroad frees up your schedule. In many cases, the fact that I was studying abroad during a gap year meant that I was able to take advantage of more opportunities than my peers. While they were forced to adhere to stricter school schedules or had other requirements that they had to follow from their home universities, I was able to take whatever classes I wanted, travel on the weekends, and register for additional workshops, events, and activities.
3. Less Stress
I found that taking a gap year generally made the experience of being abroad is less stressful. For most students who study abroad in the middle of their undergraduate experience, transitioning to both life in a new country and a new education system while worrying about major requirements and GPAs can be difficult. Because I was on a gap year, and therefore not taking classes for credit, I did not feel the same pressure that many of my classmates did and could really just focus on learning.
4. Accomplish Individual Goals
When I chose to take a gap year and study abroad, there were two main goals that I wanted to accomplish. The first was to speak Spanish fluently and the second was to learn how to travel by myself. These goals were my priority, and the freedom of a gap year allowed me to accomplish them by traveling around Spain, spending time with my host family, and participating in other events and activities around the city of Granada.
5. Reward Yourself
For me, a gap year abroad was an opportunity to do things that I had always wanted to. After years of school work and extracurriculars to help me get into a good university, I wanted to finally do something for myself. A gap year allowed me to do that for the first time in my life. Study abroad provided me with the chance to learn and grow in a way that is not possible in a traditional classroom.