Dan - School Assistant in the UK

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Thanks very much to Dan for reporting back about his time as a Lattitude “gapper”, volunteering as a UK school assistant.

Hi there, my name’s Dan from New Zealand and I’m currently working as a “Gapper” (as the kids call us) in Hoebridge School, a prep school for kids aged 3-13 located in Woking, Surrey of England.  My placement is a bit different from most school assistant placements in the UK, as I’m placed in a day school, which means that I have no boarding duties to do in the mornings and evenings, which allows for perhaps an easier wake up then some of my friends at boarding schools.

Daily routine

My daily routine revolves around a timetable set up to help support the teachers and students that need that little bit of extra help for whatever it may be. This can range from helping a Year Three child with their times tables or reading, to playing football with the Year Seven and Eights during Games (basically PE), to being a lab assistant in Science class to the teachers and students. And of course, throughout all of this, you’re constantly interacting and laughing with the students and the teachers alike.

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I’ve never had a boring day while working at Hoebridge, and then when I finish work in the afternoon, myself and my three other gappers are free to relax in our flat. I am extremely privileged to be living in the old headmasters flat, so we have a large floor plan that we take full advantage of to relax and tell each other what happened during work today or what we’re planning to do on the weekends or the inevitable holidays where the prospect of an extremely close Europe lies in wait for us. I have my own room, which I take full advantage of to relax in the evenings.

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Favourite moment?

As cliche as this sounds, it’s honestly impossible to pick a singular high point that stands out head and shoulders above every other day that I’ve currently experienced while being over here. The closest to a high point I could possibly pinpoint would have to be my eighteenth birthday that I hosted at my flat in January, as I came over to the UK as a seventeen year old. The entirety of the people who I invited were other volunteers from Lattitude that I met at my orientation in London, which I think speaks volumes about the great connections that you build within a small space of time during the Lattitude Orientation.


I was also very lucky to have my older brother do the same Lattitude program as I the year before, and was also privileged enough to be selected to go to Hoebridge as well. This meant that I had seen exactly what was needed to ensure that I could prepare correctly before embarking on the journey. Since my mother is a bit of planner, I had organised myself an Irish Passport through my grandmother which meant I did not need the charity visa that Lattitude recommends, but I do know that Lattitude was extremely helpful in guiding my friends in how to obtain said visa.

You also needed to keep in mind that you are going away for a year, so you really must thinking about all the seasons that you would go through, especially going from a New Zealand summer to an English winter. I also personally did not do the group flight that Lattitude offers because my family and I left a month early to do travelling around Europe and see my brother before he left his – and soon to be mine – placement, but again I know this was easy to do through Lattitude. The Lattitude briefings that I attended with my parents in New Zealand were also very informative about the placements and what the different kinds of volunteering you could be doing overseas, as well as outlining what was expected of you and what your year had in store for you.

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Advice for the next “gappers”

First and foremost, my number one piece of advice is to do it. I’ve been overseas for nearly five months now, and I haven’t regretted a single second of it. I consider my decision to do this quite possibly the best I have ever made, and just to help prove this point, I’m currently writing all of this on a bus to Lisbon, Portugal from Madrid, Spain as myself and five mates that I’ve made whilst I’ve been over here are currently having the best holiday we’ve all had. If you feel uncertain about what you want to do for the next year, whether it be if you’re ready for university or don’t know what to do with your life, volunteer with Lattitude, as it provides you with the valuable life experience and confidence needed to be successful in whatever you choose to do.


Orientation was a chance to meet the friends you’re going to be spending your free time with for the next year, so it really is vital that you try and meet as many people as possible over the course of the two days. Aside from the workshops and briefings that you all partake in, you go on walking tours around London and take in the sights all while becoming closer with your new friends. And of course, since you’re now adults (or close to it), you can do what you want in your free time! Orientation is the perfect time to make new friends and settle into the timezone changes along with everyone else.

To sum it all up, the opportunities and experiences that volunteering with Lattitude provides you with allows you to grow and mature both as a person and as a vital component of the volunteering program that has benefitted so many of us. If you are to do this, grasp the chance to make the year your own with both hands, and if you do even just half of what I’ve done in five months, you’ll have the time of your life.

Volunteering as a School Assistant in the UK

school assistant uk
Just emailing to say thank you to Lattitude for all your help with organising everything for my gap year. I am loving it! The school I am working at is beautiful and the staff and students are very welcoming and supportive.

On my first day I was already involved in classes and fixtures, which helped me adjust quickly to my new surroundings. I have now had a chance to explore the town of Reading a bit more which is also amazing, especially the shopping! There will be many things that will be hard to leave at the end of the year.

I have been involved in many school clubs and groups such as gym, dance, diving and have recently started a cheerleading squad at school, which has been very popular. I am currently helping out with the running of the upcoming Gym and Dance Show happening next week which will showcase the students abilities and choreography. I have also been involved in and booked into a lot of school trips for the year, mixing between the junior and senior schools. One that I am especially looking forward to is a water sports trip to the South of France at the beginning of the summer, which should be very exciting.

On the half-term holiday just been I was lucky enough to have my parents visit. We did a road trip of the UK in 5 days which was a bit of a mission but worth every minute. It really allowed me to see the country and experience the true elements of Britain, from pub lunches, old inns and castle ruins. It was also quite good for my parents as I feel that now they are a little more confident in my decision by seeing what I am doing, what the school is like and what my accommodation is like. I also am very appreciative for Skype, as I can easily keep in touch with not only my family, but my friends, which makes me feel a lot less home sick.

I am looking forward to the rest of the year and the traveling that I have planned. Thank you again for all the Lattitude team has done. I would highly recommend this experience, I have already learnt so much.

Sophie - School Assistant in the UK

Sophie in Poland - Lattitude Gap Year

What made you volunteer in the first place?

I wanted to volunteer overseas because I had a huge desire to travel while also wanting to work and actually experience living in a different country. Lattitude gave me the opportunity to live in a different country that was so far away from home while also being able to travel around Europe and the rest of the UK.

I was also unsure about what I wanted to study at university, I knew what I enjoyed but I wasn’t able to narrow it down to what I wanted to major or pursue in the future so I thought getting away from home and being in a completely different
environment would help me realise what I actually wanted to study and help me narrow down my interests.

Why the UK?

I have very strong family connections in all areas of the UK which was a big reason to why I wanted to live and volunteer in the UK. I also chose the UK because my brother had gone through the UK Lattitude programme in 2011 and my mum and I went and visited so I had some prior knowledge of the programme but also how much my brother grew from his experience and how much he enjoyed it.

I also love the history and culture of the UK and the various cultures that are within the UK as well. The reason why I chose an English speaking country was
because I knew that I wanted a change but I wasn’t sure if I was ready for the most drastic change that a non- English speaking country would bring, plus I wanted to travel Europe in particular and the UK is always such a good base to do so.

Sophie in Poland - Lattitude Gap Year

Can you describe your placement in detail?

My placement was called Tring Park School for the Performing Arts. It was a coed school for ages 8-18 for kids who take a particular interest in the performing arts. It was both a Boarding and Day school. I had 3 other gappies with me on my placement, 2 kiwis and an Aussie. My school was about 40 minutes NorthWest of London in Tring, Hertfordshire. The school day is split up into two parts, in the morning the older kids (ages 14+) will do their academic work then in the afternoon they will work on their performing arts and take classes. The younger children are the same but switched around. When the kid come into intermediate school they must decide what area they want to major in. For the little kids you can chose either Dance or Theatre Arts, which includes musical theatre, drama, music etc. Or Dance course. Then when you reach 6th Form you must chose your complete major: drama, musical theatre, music etc. With the two major departments being Academic and Vocational I came across a lot of different personalities with many many talents. You come across very strong personalities and egos working in a performing arts school!

Sophie in Poland - Lattitude Gap Year

What are some examples of the duties you performed there?

I had a variety of duties at my placement. My duties included doing the ticklist for the meals in which we had to tick off the names of all the students for each individual meal (it helped with learning 300+ kids names!) I worked mostly in the Academic staff room doing admin work, helping in some classes and being a extra hand in general. I also worked in the school theatre and did a lot of hands on work with building sets, setting up the theatre for performances and of course the big tidy up after the performances. I learnt a lot of new skills with that job! I also got to chaperone on some school trips we took every sunday or trips for classes. My favorite was going to the studios where Harry Potter was filmed in Watford. But my main and favorite job was working with the kids in the boarding houses. I was a houseparent/big sister and worked in the girls boarding house with girls aged 10-18.

The various ages came with various jobs and responsibilities. With the younger kids it was definitely a lot more hands on and dare I say chaotic work whilst the older kids because of their age were a lot more individual and took care of themselves a lot of the time.

I got to work with a great team of pastoral and nursing staff who fully took me
under my wing and who ended up being my family away from home. Getting to know and work these kids and pastoral staff was the highlight of my job and even my year. Each child was so unique and special and being able to look after them, have a laugh, be there for them and make memories with them was the best part of my job.

Can you describe your accommodation?

My accommodation varied throughout the year. I shared a room for the entire year which was a learning experience in itself. First we were placed in the girls boarding houses then halfway through the year we were placed in a different building until finally all of us gappies were put into what is now known as the “Gap flat” which has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, lounge and kitchen.

Sophie in Poland - Lattitude Gap Year

How did you cope with the big differences between living in the UK and home?

The big differences that I encountered when I moved to the UK was the difference with the amount of people there are vs in New Zealand. Going to London was always a small culture shock because of the business and hustle and bustle of the city and the people. The other main difference was having everything right there and so accessible which was a difference I was so willing to accept, having the rest of the UK and Europe right there in front of you was so exciting and so different that I really had to narrow down and realise that I couldn’t go everywhere in one year.

Being in a country all by yourself was also a big change and a big culture shock. You didn’t know anybody going over there and you didn’t know the people you were going to be living with either which was quite strange and a little bit of a shock and certainly took some getting used to. I think i coped with this by just really getting involved in work and didn’t beat around the bush and just jumped right in. I think that was the best way to cope with such a new situation was just accepting and embracing your new situation which helps a lot with homesickness because keeping yourself busy gives you less time to think about home.

Sophie in Poland - Lattitude Gap Year

What do you think was your favourite moment/ best thing that happened to you whilst there?

I had a lot of favorite moments throughout the year. In terms of travelling my favorite places that I went to were: Edinburgh, Swiss Alps, Florence, Krakow, Plitvice Lakes in Croatia and of course London. These places stood out to me because of the scenery, history, people and the fun experiences I had when I visited.

A very moving experience for me was visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps while I was in Krakow, it was very moving and humbling being in a place with such dark history and although it was deeply emotional Im so glad that I was able to have that experience and learn so much about that period in history. The Plitvice lakes was a huge highlight and I would recommend it to anybody. I also went to an incredible exhibition at the Victoria &
Albert Museum in London about the designer Alexander McQueen, that was a huge highlight for me and of course watching the Rugby World Cup in Trafalgar Square in London was one of the best of experiences of the year!

Sophie in Poland - Lattitude Gap Year

In terms of my placement, it was the little memories that ended up being my favorites. Having these memories with the kids and the amazing staff was such a highlight. I was able to watch the kids perform in so many different shows and see their talent and passion come through on stage. Spending evenings with the Pastoral and nursing staff and talking for hours on end are things I cherish so much and seeing the kids achieve goals and break new ground were sometimes so small but ended up being the things I loved the most about my placement.

Can you give examples of any personal development you may have gained during your time there?

I feel like I grew a lot as a person from my time away. It wasn’t always huge leaps and bounds but more reassurances about myself. I became a lot more self assured and I became a lot less scared of confrontation and standing up for myself and what I believed in, which was something I wasn’t so sure of before my placement. I became a lot more independent and learnt to deal with the more stressful situations in a good way. When you are travelling you can be put in hard and chaotic situations that school doesn’t really prepare you for!

But learning from these experiences has helped prepare me so much for the real world and the real situations that life can throw at you and how you can deal with them. I feel like when I came back to NZ after a year I was so much more self assured, confident and really happy with who I was as a person which I think is the best thing you can take from a gap year.

What are you doing now, and how has your volunteering experience influenced/helped you?

Im originally from Wellington, so I have now moved to Auckland and studying at AUT majoring in Communication Studies. I love my course and the different areas that it can lead off into, taking a gap year helped me realise what: A. I wanted to actually study and B. what kind of career I wanted to pursue.

I was constantly working with people in my job and I realised how much I enjoyed working so directly with not just people but in a team of people. I didn’t even know what communications was when I was in high school and by researching and figuring out what I wanted in a career, I found communications and realised it was the area of work I wanted to pursue. I can guarantee that if I hadn’t taken a gap year and given myself time and had those experiences then I would be doing something completely different in a completely different city.


Waipora - School Assistant in the UK

Waipora in Poland - Lattitude Gap Year

“There are many reasons why people decide to take a gap year, personally myself I did not want to go straight to university as I had no idea what I would study. I had always been interested in doing an overseas exchange. I was eager to get out in the world and explore. In my 5 years at high school I thought about doing a student exchange. However I did not want to miss out on the privileges of being a senior student and I wanted to gain all the NCEA qualifications I could.

When I found out about Lattitude Global Volunteering I was excited. This seemed to be a great opportunity. Volunteering with Lattitude allowed me to live overseas and experience a different culture. Being away from home helped me become more independent. My experiences in the workplace guided me in my transition from being a student to becoming a young adult. Working also kept me busy and also taught me some valuable skills. Living overseas can be quite expensive. Getting a small allowance for working was very useful. Being on a budget I learnt how to organised and prioritise my activities. Meeting new people comes naturally on a gap year, whether it is getting to know fellow volunteers, working with teachers and students at your placement or just talking to the local people.

However the main reason why I chose to volunteer with Lattitude was the support that I would receive. I can honestly say that I received the best support possible, from the time I was accepted into the programme right through to when I arrived back home. Applying for my passport, visa, police check etc can be very time consuming. It was through Lattitude’s years of experience with sending volunteers overseas, they were able to provide useful advice. Before I left I attended a pre-departure briefing organised by Lattitude. This was a great way for me and my family to meet the Lattitude team in New Zealand, NZ Travel brokers (Lattitude travel agents) and other volunteers. This meeting allowed me to get answers to any questions I had, and put my mind at ease. When we landed in the UK we were met by Lattitude staff. After a two day orientation (doing things like opening bank accounts) we made our way to our placements. During my time away I was updated on news from Lattitude through monthly newsletters. Just knowing that I had support around me if needed really helped with settling into my new environment.

I was placed at Dover College (a co-educational day and boarding school for pupils aged 3-18 years) in Dover, Kent, England. I was placed with another volunteer from Australia. On the train ride to Dover I was nervous. We were welcomed by the Headmistress of Duckworth House (the boarding house where I would live). Shortly after, we were introduced to the girls in the boarding house. After the introductions, we were shown to our rooms. The next day we were shown around the school and the town of Dover. My first few days were spent finding my way around the school and remembering names of staff and students we had just met. My jobs varied, starting my mornings working in the school office to playing sports games with the pupils in the afternoon and occasionally helping out in the boarding house.

My experiences in that one year forced me to become more mature. I developed more of an interest and understanding of the world. I began to think more about my future. One of the changes that others have noticed is an increase in my own confidence. I have proven to myself that I can happily live in a foreign country, where I can be independent. Now I am more willing to take risks in life. I’ve come to realise that I will never achieve any of my goals without trying. If you are looking to challenge yourself to a completely different way of living, then volunteering overseas with Lattitude may well be the choice for you. Lattitude Global Volunteering offers a wide range of projects choice which means you can easily find a project that suits your needs.”

Kelli - Outdoor Instructor in the UK

Kelli - Outdoor Activity Instructor in UK - Lattitude Gap YearAll throughout my last year I knew I needed a break from study after I finished, but I didn’t want to do nothing. I wanted to feel like I had done something worthwhile, whilst being able to see the world at the same time.

I had heard about Lattitude before as people in my school had gone through them previously, and the idea of a volunteer gap year really interested me. I started looking at the options available through Lattitude and as soon as I saw outdoor instructor, I knew it was for me. From being involved in scouts from a young age, I have always loved adventurous and outdoor activities, so the idea of being able to give kids the same kind of enjoyment I had experienced was perfect.

I was lucky enough to be given a placement at Blacklands Farm Girl Guiding Centre located an hour south of London for seven months. Blacklands Farm offers a range of activities from adventurous ones such as leap of faith, bungee trampolines, crates, climbing, abseiling and zip wires, to water activities like kayaking and canoeing, as well as the more common activities of archery, team building and orienteering. I was lucky enough to be able to run all of the activities except the water based activities as they require specific and special qualifications.

No two days were the same at the farm as in a day you could go from running an archery session, to a climb, to a zip wire and finishing up with an abseil. This was great fun though as it meant you always had variety and never knew what to expect. Days could be long, especially through Summer, starting anywhere from 8:00 to 10:00 and finishing as late as 9:30, but I didn’t mind as I was doing something I really enjoyed.

One of the best feelings on the job was having a kid on abseil, who the first time came up the tower terrified and didn’t want to do it, ended up returning and and having another go because they enjoyed it so much. It made the ten minute chat you had at the top with them, convincing them they could do it, all the more worth it.

Every day was like that. There was always a chance to watch kids grow in confidence,  and have fun. It was one of the main reasons that I loved my job so much. Being at Blacklands Farm has been amazing and saying goodbye to the people I lived and worked with was so hard. I would recommend working at a girl guiding or scout centre in a heartbeat. For fellow scouts like me, the opportunity to make an impact in other young scouts and guides lives, whilst giving them an amazing experience, is something you can’t miss.

Jacqui - Community Worker in the UK

Moving away from home and working in a new country is so much more than being able to say that you have experienced a new country, or having something to tick off your bucket list. It’s about the experiences that you have, the people that you meet, as well as the new person you become. I have definitely grown so much as a person since being here. People always talk about ‘finding yourself’ or ‘going on a journey to self-discover’ as a reason for travelling, or having a gap year, and as much as I think it’s way too cliché, I can now understand where they are coming from.

I read as many past experience stories as I possibly could before coming over here but nothing truly prepared me for my own journey. I would definitely say that this year has been the most interesting and worthwhile year of my life.

Travel does definitely change you. Moving abroad will forever shape the person that I am, and will be in the future. It has taught me so many lessons and has made me more independent, responsible and has opened my eyes to the world around me. I can definitely appreciate a lot more things in my life from this experience.

To be quite honest, being a volunteer is quite challenging. I am so lucky to have amazing housemates to work alongside, as well as two great managers! For the most part, my work is very rewarding. Working with mental health patients is something that I have been inspired to do my whole life, but actually doing it is something completely different to what I imagined. Seeing the look on the carers face when you arrive to take over from them truly leaves a lasting impression. To give them even a few hours break from the amazing work they do is appreciated so much. The appreciation that you are shown truly makes you remember why I am here.

Whatever you do in life, you will always have challenges. Some challenges are greater than others, but all I can say is, this challenge was definitely worth it.

Wessley - Outdoor Instructor in the UK

Wessley - Outdoor Activity Instructor in UK - Lattitude Gap Year

In the short time I have already spent here, both in England during my orientation and at my Outdoor Activities Placement at Tolmers Activities and Camping Centre, I have already made amazing new friends and incredible memories to match. Both the volunteers I came with to my placement and the staff who work here are so friendly and approachable, and it has really made for a wonderful experience. The people have been one of the biggest parts of my Lattitude journey and being able to share my voyage with the friends I have made has been really rewarding.


From early days here in England, I thoroughly enjoyed every opportunity that was put forward to me. I participated in a walking tour of Westminster in which I saw many spectacular sights such as; Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Saint James Park, Leicester Square and the changing of the royal guard. I have seen all of these in photos but it really doesn’t compare to the real thing by any comparison.

One of the many items on my list of things to do while on my placement was to see a live stage performance at the Apollo Theatre. My ambitions were soon rewarded on just the second night of my orientation. The other volunteers and I were treated to a “Wicked” show, and despite being incredibly tired from the inevitable jet lag, it was indeed an enjoyable night and my journey was really kicking off. I was really enjoying the moments and looking forward to what was around the corner for me.

Arrival at placement

The first day of my placement was rather nerve racking. I wasn’t sure what to expect and anticipated eagerly for my arrival on sight at Tolmers Activity Centre. My fellow Tolmers volunteers and I were not only greeted with friendly smiles and outgoing personalities, but also some picturesque sights which very quickly broke the ice and allowed us to settle in for the first day.

The second day involved partaking and learning the different activities onsite. Abseiling, rock climbing, high ropes, pedal karts and bungy running were just a few of the activities we were educated in. It was a great fun; I wasn’t expecting to be able to try all the activities so soon in my stay.

It was clearly laying the foundation for a wonderful experience over the next seven months.

Nikki - School Assistant in the UK

Nikki in the UK - Lattitude Gap Year

Dear Lattitude,

I’m sorry this email has been such a long time coming – I’m over half way through my placement and its so hard to believe!

First of all I wanted to thank you all again for giving me this amazing opportunity. So far, my placement here has been full of all the ups and downs I was told about and tried to prepare for but really couldn’t – travel sickness, physical sickness (from the weather!) and of course home sickness. But after that magical 3 month marker, everything just came right, and now it’s hard to get through a day without marvelling at something purely because it’s different from home, and thinking how lucky I am.

At the start, I wasn’t sure what to expect from St Andrew’s – especially as I’ve never even been to a boarding school before. Pretty soon I realised how well-matched I was for this place though – around half my ‘day’ duties are spent coaching kids here (daunting at first) but I soon found that I had enough knowledge to help out, and in some cases actually take over and teach new things. From what I’ve heard, the responsibilities and things I’ve been asked to help with are really uncommon for a gappie to do, but I’m glad that I’ve been asked and I can get stuck in with whatever they need – its been the most rewarding part of it all!

A by-product of course, is that I’ve been incredibly busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way because I feel like I really am trying to make the most of everything that comes my way this year.

I’ve been to national championships for athletics and hockey helping coach the kids, to amusement parks and ice-skating rinks with my boarding kids, I’ve caught up with a long-lost relative I’ve never met before! I’ve travelled to the most amazing places in England like London, the Lake District, Cambridge and Scotland, and I’ve caught up with an old exchange student friend of mine in Holland… and then turned from tourist to tour guide when she came to England!

With so much seen and so much still to come (like my 2 week Contiki tour starting in just one week!!) and seeing one of my brothers for the first time in over 19 months, I really feel like I’m lost in a fairytale – or the Dr Seuss poem “Oh! The Places You’ll Go”.

Thank you so much yet again,


Ben - School Assistant in the UK

Most people would call me crazy for travelling all the way across the world to one of the coldest winters in England since 1979. But then again, being a little crazy isn’t such a bad thing here at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts! As students and staff began to get to know us, and after the novelty of our ‘hilarious’ accents wore off, we were able to establish separate identities from those who had come before us.

I have been heavily involved throughout the school, being responsible for innovative ideas in the boarding houses and classrooms as well as running many different activities with students of all ages. I have helped escort students on trips and weekend activities like bowling, rock climbing, caving and ice skating, many of which I was able to arrange and manage myself. I have been dazzled and amazed by the talent displayed at the school through my work in the vocational, academic, and pastoral departments. All the shows, school cups and assessments have been fantastic, and I can’t wait to see what else there is to offer in the small time I have left.

It has been the experience of a lifetime, and I have already learnt so much. The things I have already accomplished, and the many things that are to come in the remaining months, will be some of my fondest memories. These past months have passed ever so quickly and before we know it, it will be time to say goodbye to the many new friends and family we have made. It has been a pleasure working here and I thank Lattitude for giving me this fantastic opportunity!

Sam - School Assistant in the UK

A typical gap year consists of traveling as far away from home as possible, meeting heaps of new people and seeing lots of interesting countries. Throw in some snow and major delays, 32 days of my life I will never forget and an awesome support network and then you are somewhat close to my gap year.

On the 4th January I left little Whangarei behind and went as far away as possible and 24hours later I was in the UK with 100 other Gappies starting the best year of my life so far. Well 24hours after being in the UK we experienced the biggest snow they had seen in over 30 years and we got stranded at orientation. But never fear 3 days after we were supposed to leave I got to my new home for the year with my Australian Gappy.

Newlands School in Seaford on the south east coast of England was to be my home for 2010 and for the first 2 terms I got to share it with a Brazilian, German and Australian so when the football world cup came round tensions were high to say the least. Then in my last term my Australian Gappy and I welcomed two Canadians to our family and said goodbye to our Brazilian and German gaps.

My year consisted of helping out in PE, Science, Maths, English, Drama and even some PSHE. With my school being so small I got to know all of the kids individually and learn that little thing about them that made them different. I got to see my kids grow up and move on and even help them when life just wasn’t cool anymore.

I got to go on trips from mountain biking to arts shows and everything in between. I definitely have to say around every corner there was something new for me to do and I was up for it every step of the way. Every new challenge was an experience and every new experience was a challenge.

But in my spare time I even got to see 17 countries and go on a 32day Contiki tour. Dare I say but my Contiki tour was definitely something I will never forget and we will always stay true to what goes on tour definitely stays on tour. My friends list grew from each country we visited and after 32days around Europe I had acquired another 47 friends to add on Facebook. But every country I visited I made new friends and got to enjoy the local hospitality and cuisine, something which just added to my gap year.

Well after a year of ups and downs and wondering what would be around the next corner it was finally time to leave. However I think the UK must have really enjoyed having us there as we managed to get caught up in the snow which brought Heathrow airport to stop. However 5days later, a bus trip to Manchester and a day in Singapore we all finally managed to arrive home and see our families who we had been missing, and at least we got home for Christmas.

My gap year was amazing from start to finish and everyone along the way was amazing as well. All the Gappies I met I will continue to hold my friendships with. The staff and students at my school, even though I didn’t have the biggest and best school in the UK they made my year what it was and without them there is no way I would have had the time of my life.

But the best thing about my Lattitude gap year was the Lattitude staff themselves from day 1 when we got stuck in the snow to the last day we tried to leave, they have always been there for us. Sharyn our country manager staying awake whilst we were trying to get home to actually just trying to get us off in the country she worked so hard and helped in making our year so awesome. My local rep Dee was amazing as well, she came down and checked on us and sorted out any problems we had, and we even managed to have a pint or two at times. The Lattitude staff were amazing and without them we definitely would have been lost. My year had its ups it’s downs and everything in between but it definitely would be a year I would do again in heartbeat if I had a chance. A gap year is amazing and something everyone should do.

Blackwell Adventure Park - Outdoor Instructor in the UK

Outdoor Activities Instructor - Lattitude Gap Year in United KingdomVisiting Lattitude Volunteers at Blackwell Adventure Outdoor Centre!

As the current intern at Lattitude Global Volunteering HQ I love having the opportunity to visit international volunteers working at their UK placements – especially as it means a day out of the office!

I recently visited Lattitude volunteers at Blackwell Adventure, Bromsgrove, to get an idea of what it’s like to volunteer at a UK Outdoor Activity Centre. There are currently 10 Lattitude volunteers all the way from Australia, Canada and New Zealand that are working at Blackwell Adventure.

Outdoor Activities Instructor - Lattitude Gap Year in United Kingdom

Placement visits are a chance for Lattitude staff to meet volunteers at their placement and chat to them about how they’re getting on and if there is anything extra Lattitude can do to support them and further enhance their gap year experience. From sitting-in on interviews with the Lattitude staff, and from chatting to volunteers myself, it soon became apparent that all of the volunteers are having an absolute blast at Blackwell and are really happy with their placement!

Outdoor Activities Instructor - Lattitude Gap Year in United Kingdom

The Blackwell volunteers are trained to instruct on a range of fun adventure activities (such as Rock Climbing, Tree Trek, Abseiling and Zip Wire) which they teach to groups of children and sometimes adults. The group love working with UK kids, who are often very confident and cheeky! Lattitude volunteer Seamus from New Zealand commented about his experience as an Outdoor Activity Instructor, saying: “every day is different – you never know what the kids are going to come out with!”

Outdoor Activities Instructor - Lattitude Gap Year in United Kingdom

As part of my visit the volunteers also kindly gave me a tour around their accommodation, which is a mixture of shared and single rooms all on site at Blackwell. The gappers have their own shared kitchen where they prepare all of their meals themselves – several of the boys have definitely gained new cooking skills since living in the UK! All of the gappies have now mastered UK supermarkets (apparently Poundland is a favourite amongst the group) and even use online shopping to have their groceries delivered to their front door!

Outdoor Activities Instructor - Lattitude Gap Year in United Kingdom

Working and living together means that the group have all become really good friends. The volunteers informed me that they spend a lot of their free time together, whether it’s on a night-out in nearby Birmingham, a trip to Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory, weekends in London or on their numerous holidays to nearby European destinations such as Greece and Ireland! Just from spending an afternoon at Blackwell I could see just how close the group have become to each other, as well as to other volunteers and site staff.

Outdoor Activities Instructor - Lattitude Gap Year in United Kingdom

I had a really fun day out of the office at Blackwell catching up with the Lattitude volunteers, seeing them in action on the equipment and hearing about what they get up to! They definitely seem to be having a great time and have clearly gained increased independence, confidence and leadership skills – not to forget their new international bunch of friends! I have to say that I came away feeling very envious of the fun experience the group were having at Blackwell and would definitely want to volunteer as an Outdoor Activity Instructor if I had the opportunity!

Outdoor Activities Instructor - Lattitude Gap Year in United Kingdom


Jess - School Assistant in the UK

Jess in the UK - Lattitude Gap Year

I guess what made me decide to go on a Gap year in was the fact that I have always wanted to travel, and live in another country. Plus, if I’m completely honest, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, so I thought that taking a year out and working, not just travelling would be the best idea for me.

Deciding to go through Lattitude was probably the best decision I could have made. From the very beginning when I applied, right through my placement and up until I came back home, they were there to support me if I ever needed anything. Of course they weren’t overbearing, and left you to carry on with your work and travel in the country you were in. But knowing that they were there if anything ever went wrong, was probably the biggest thing that kept both myself and my parents mind at ease.

I was placed in Queen Elizabeth’s Community College in Crediton, Devon, England. This is a co-education day school and International Boarding School, home to around 55 Boarders aged from 11-18 years old, ranging from around the UK, to Germany, Spain, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Czech Republic and Austria. I did a variety of jobs, mainly in the Boarding house/s, but also working a day occasionally in the school. My days consisted of working in the Boarding office during school hours and then night shifts would be spent working between the boys and girls houses helping them with homework, cooking, food tech, laundry and also getting them to bed on time, along with extra jobs I was given to do.

I have to admit, this was a very full on and hectic job. Myself and the two other Australian girls on the placement with me were relied on heavily, and at times we would be very exhausted. However, there is nothing I would have changed about the experiences I have had and the people I have met. I think unlike a lot of other boarding schools in England, QE was very informal, and very much like a huge family! I was able to become so very close with the whole staffing team, as well as the boarders and for that I am so very grateful. Ultimately, these people are what have made my experience the best it could have possibly been, and not many people can say that they can walk in the door to work everyday and be lovingly greeted by 55 brothers and sisters.

This Gap year travelling and at my placement has taught me a lot of things about life, and about myself. I am no longer scared to try new things, and have learnt that you have to give everything a go. Amongst my travels and working with the staff and Boarders at QE, I have grown more confident in myself, in return growing as a person and becoming more of an adult, in both a workplace environment and in order to give help and support to those who needed it. I have had to learn to work on a budget from the allowance that we were given each month and because of that, plan my travel strategically!

My eyes are now wide open, and I cannot recommend this experience more to anyone! I am now motivated to keep having experiences that continue to change my life in the way that my experience in the UK and working with everyone at Queen Elizabeth’s has given me. The support from Lattitude and the friends I have made throughout my time whilst in the UK has been vital to me, and I know that one day I will be going back over there, whether it be to work, or visit my second family.

Applying for a Gap Year with Lattitude may be daunting. But if you don’t push yourself out of your comfort zone, then you will never know what experiences are out there for you to have. I was probably one of the shyest people before I left for a year and had to live and work with people I had never met before. But these are the things that shape your life and help you to grow and become a better person, not just for yourself, but also for those around you.

Mitchell - School Assistant in the UK

Hello all,

Salisbury is going fantastically well, the weather is freezing as expected but we have had some sunny days which were amazing!

When we first arrived, London gave us an iconic welcoming with rain. Customs was a breeze, the line took a while but there was no questioning about where I was going, how long? etc, which was surprising. It was real cold outside waiting for the coach to come, a sleety rain come towards us so we all got saturated.

Going on the coach was cool as, seeing all the double deckers, black taxi’s, red telephone boxes etc. The hostel we stayed at was in a great location. It was in Islington, right near the Wax museum so that afternoon myself and a coupe of others went there which was such awesome fun! Then the rest of orientation went real well too, the group of volunteers are all real friendly people and the staff from Lattitude UK are real helpful.

UK School Assistant - Lattitude Gap Year

We sorted out our bank accounts and things like that together. On the Wednesday morning after a real good night sleep we went on a tour of London around Buckingham Palace, London Eye (Which i can’t wait to do), Big Ben and Trafalger Square which is a tad more impressive than the one in Wanganui. On the Thursday morning we all packed and headed off in small groups to various stations or airports depending on where our placements were located. I went to Waterloo Station with 8 others.

Getting there was a mission in itself, lugging suitcases through the wet streets, (Luckily it wasn’t raining at that time). Then onto the tubes which id already fallen in love with the day before. Although slightly dangerous and dirty they are so efficient and fun! Once at Waterloo our group of 8 then split off onto various trains at different times. I had to wait about an hour for mine but by the time you get something to eat and drink time goes real fast in a packed place like that.

The train was nice. We went through some nice country side but to be completely honest NZ’s country side is nicer than the brief area i saw. It took 90mins to Salisbury.

I got met by Sandy who is one of the secretary’s here at SCS (My placement) and Ben who is the other mail gappie (he arrived two hours before me). The town is so amazing and quaint with lots of nice shops with huge variety! My favourite shop is Poundland which if converted is equivalant to our $2 shop in NZ. The world famous Salisbury Cathedral is literally 200m from my bedroom which is simply amazing. The ‘Close’ i live in is gated with castle like walls around the grounds. I have a nice view over the grassy back grounds from my bedroom window which gets all day sun (on those rare sunny days).

UK School Assistant - Lattitude Gap Year

All the staff are super friendly and helpful. Im slowly learning more and more childrens names, especially the borders who i look after some mornings and nights. The parents are all extremely friendly and welcoming. The first few nights here were spent at the pub. Theres a few nearby in the village centre but the one all staff tend to use is called the, “New Inn” which is a real nice, iconic english pub which also has a nice fire in the back courtyard. I am yet to buy a single drink with all the staff being so kind which is much appreciated.

The four of us gappies (Myself, Ben, Bianca & Courtney) have got on so well. We have been together a week and yet it feels like forever! Such a good group! Shockingly I’ve only been here a week but already addicted to drinking tea. Literally 6 a day is normal. We got our timetables sorted the other day and it makes life so much easier. Our duties include: predominantly the games department and boarding house (morning and night), then smaller duties like guiding choristers to the cathedral, helping in pre prep (age 3-6). Also the arts department and matroning duty.

Yesterday i took a year 4 hockey team to an away match against supposedly a very strong side. Our team was inexperienced compared to the opposition. The first half ended 0-0 and to be fair we were getting dominated but still competing reasonably well. I decided to call on my football experience and implemented some football structures. It payed huge dividends with the team winning 4-0 in the end. The deep pep talk at halftime worked wonders and the oppostion coach was shocked. All the staff back at school were amazed at our result which was nice.

So in the flat we have three bathrooms and five bedrooms, the four gappies each have one and then Jack has one who is a trainee teacher. He’s about 24 and a real nice guy! The food here is amazing i must also point out. Its like a cruise ship with just constant food and sweets always seem to appear in the flat kitchen which is great.

UK School Assistant - Lattitude Gap Year

My experience so far has been incredible and I have nothing bad to say.
I can’t stress enough how helpful the Lattitude staff were when we arrived and how organised they were. I’m hardly a pro volunteer yet but if you are even slightly considering taking a gap year nest year, I’d say go for it! It’s an absolutely magnificent experience!
Mitchell Sherman.

Brittany - Outdoor Instructor in the UK

It all started on the 10th of 1st in London. Everybody was at the Generator Hostel for a night where got to meet the people we would be living with for the next few months. The next day everybody went off to their placements apart from us (YMCA Fairthorne Manor Outdoor CenterGappies), we had another 2 weeks before we could go to our placement. This meant I got to live in London for the next 2 weeks! London was stunning! I loved the vibe you got. It wasn’t like any place I have been to before.

Once we got there we were given a tour around Fairthorne was such a huge place! We were given training on most activities so that we would be the instructors for them. Training was so much fun! This was when we got to know each other! Along with being an instructor we had to do site work. Our 1st job was to clean out the leap of faith, so much mud!

Outdoor Activities Instructor - Lattitude Gap Year in United Kingdom

After a while we got into the swing of things. And we were doing really well. We all got along and we knew how to do our job on our own. In June I and another Lattitude girl got chosen to go work in Holland for a week! This was amazing! I never planned on going over there so this was a huge plus for me haha. We lived in a little shack with about 6 others.

Outdoor Activities Instructor - Lattitude Gap Year in United Kingdom

We got to do the same kind of activities but in a different way. We have a lake for the kayaking and a tower for abseiling and rock climbing etc. But in Holland we were going down this long river, rock climb on actual rocks and abseiling down them too and also off a building.

Outdoor Activities Instructor - Lattitude Gap Year in United Kingdom

Later on in July we held a festival called YCF. This was amazing as we got to meet some new people and I had a role of making a video and was in a dance for the opening of it. So they got to do the activities and be a kid again. During the festival we had a huge disco, campfire and broke a world record!!

Outdoor Activities Instructor - Lattitude Gap Year in United Kingdom


Being a gappy normally means you want to find everything cheap right? So I found a bus to PARIS for £5 one way from London! This was right near the end of my time at Fairthorne Manor. So it was an amazing trip to get me all excited for the last part of my travels!

After Paris I said my goodbyes to everyone and a group of us gappies went off to Greece and Rome! After all the hard work that year, it was time to have some fun! And do what we came here to do!

This was the end of my travels as the rest went on with theirs. So I made my way back home on the long flight and was welcomed back by family and friends!

All of us from Lattitude got matching rings made for this year (there was 12 of us,) so we would always have something to remind us of our travels and new friendships we had made but most importantly to remind us of our crazy family.

So I just wanted to thank you Lattitude. Last year was one of the best times of my life and it wouldn’t have been possible without you. It was a life changing event that is for sure!

All of us Lattitude Gappers!

Marnie - School Assistant in the UK

Uk Lattitude Gap Year

Just emailing to say thank you to Lattitude for all your help with organising everything for my gap year. I am loving it! The school I am working at is beautiful and the staff and students are very welcoming and supportive.

On my first day I was already involved in classes and fixtures, which helped me adjust quickly to my new surroundings. I have now had a chance to explore the town of Reading a bit more which is also amazing, especially the shopping!! There will be many things that will be hard to leave at the end of the year.

I have been involved in many school clubs and groups such as gym, dance, diving and have recently started a cheerleading squad at school, which has been very popular. I am currently helping out with the running of the upcoming Gym and Dance Show happening next week which will showcase the students abilities and choreography. I have also been involved in and booked into a lot of school trips for the year, mixing between the junior and senior schools. One that I am especially looking forward to is a Watersports trip to the South of France at the beggining of the summer, which should be very exciting.

On the half-term holiday just been I was lucky enough to have my parents visit. We did a road trip of the UK in 5 days which was a bit of a mission but worth every minute. It really allowed me to see the country and experience the true elements of Britain, from pub lunches, old inns and castle ruins. It was also quite good for my parents as I feel that now they are a little more confident in my decision by seeing what I am doing, what the school is like and what my accommodation is like. I also am very appreciative for Skype, as I can easily keep in touch with not only my family, but my friends, which makes me feel a lot less home sick.

I am looking forward to the rest of the year and the travelling that I have planned. Thank you again for all the Lattitude team has done. I would highly recommend this experience, I have already learnt so much.