Student gap years

The ins and outs of student travel

Taking time to travel as a student can be difficult, but comes with many benefits.

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There are many companies that cater to student travel. Companies like EF Education First market to students in different ways.

They create planned tours, making them different from travel agents or booking sites, for students to travel to a destination country or to go to another country to learn a new language and be immersed in the language of choice for weeks or months at a time.

Julie White, a current University of Winnipeg  (U of W) student, says since she doesn’t have time to plan a trip, she would travel with a tour group like EF travel.

“It sounds like way too much work (to plan a trip) … I haven’t travelled very much, so I’m inexperienced (in planning),” White says.

Chantelle Dubois, a current University of Manitoba (U of M) student says she’s travelled on her own but also with a travel company and would do either again.

“With a travel agent, I saved more money, but on my own, I felt like I had more freedom,” Dubois says.

According to the Gap Year Association, gap years started in the 1970s in the United Kingdom.

Students who have taken a gap year are more likely to complete their degree “on time” or within four years, according to the Gap Year Association.

There are many benefits to taking a gap year. For instance, students who take them are often happy and satisfied with their careers after university.

According to Go Overseas, other benefits of a gap year include meeting new people, learning and getting a resume boost.

The Go Overseas travel website has gap year packages that can send students to regions such as Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean for a variety of time from a weekend to a year.

For White, a gap year is an opportunity to learn something different from the everyday life of a student in their home country, like a different culture or way of life, and that experience can be used toward a student’s education.

“You learn so much from other places, not just academic knowledge but life knowledge and cultural knowledge. You experience multiple perspectives and multiple ways of life that contribute to your knowledge,” White says.

For Dubois, she says travelling as a student isn’t that affordable, unless they are  well off, because there are always things that come up like needing a car repair. It’s more accessible than it used to be, and she sees the benefits a gap year can have for students.

“You get to learn more about the world than you’ll be learning about in school. You get to experience it firsthand, and it’s your first chance and opportunity to be independent and on your own,” Dubois says.

“It’s hard to travel as a student, because you don’t have the funds. It’s not accessible, especially for full-time students, because the reality is you don’t have a lot of money and if you do, it’s probably going towards your tuition,” White says.

Published in Volume 72, Number 20 of The Uniter (March 8, 2018)

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