If you’re not sure what you want to do when you leave school, a GAP YEAR – taking time out to explore possibilities and try new things – is a good option.
“My gap year will give me enough time to fully think about what I want to do at university, and enough time to change my plans if I want to,” says 18-year-old Briana Woodward. “This means I’m not rushing into something that I don’t want to do.”
A former student of Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in Wellington, Briana is a volunteer with Lattitude Global Volunteering. She works as an English teaching assistant at a primary school in Spain.
“I loved the idea of fully immersing myself in a new culture, especially in a beautiful and historical country that I had always dreamed of visiting. It gives me the opportunity to do things that I love – travelling, experiencing new things and helping people.”
While she misses her family and friends, Briana is finding teaching rewarding and loves living with her host family.
“They offer me an insight into Spanish culture and help me to get the most out of my time in Spain. They are half Portuguese, so I have also got to experience a bit of Portuguese culture as well!”
While she studied French (alongside Geography, Economics, Chemistry and Classical Studies) in Year 13, and German in Year 12, Briana spoke “next to no Spanish” when she arrived in Spain.
But this hasn’t been a problem, she says, because everyone has been willing to teach her. So much so, Briana is thinking about studying tourism and Spanish at AUT next year. “Since I have already learnt a bit of Spanish here, it will be easy to continue learning at university.
“I think this gap year will help as it has made me more independent, which will be good when I move to Auckland by myself. It has also improved my confidence, which will help with meeting new people and fitting in with a new routine.”
If you are thinking about doing something similar, Briana’s advice is: “Definitely do it! It is a great opportunity to broaden your horizons and really get out and experience the world.
“It’s also really good if you don’t know what you want to study, so you can take some time to think about it.”
The staff at Lattitude “go above and beyond for the volunteers” and are willing to help “with anything”.
So don’t worry about being alone, Briana says. “The other volunteers from New Zealand will be only a message or a phone call away, and they can share your frustrations, worries and good experiences.”
Article originally printed in Leaving School magazine:
Find out more about the gap year programme in Spain