Thursday, 7 June 2012

Taking a "gap year" is

apparently less common in Australia than it is in the northern hemisphere. I am not sure why this should be so or why it is often actively discouraged.
I know there are pros and cons over gap years. Mathematicians tell me that students of mathematics really should not take gap years. Linguists say it is a good thing to spend a year living in the country where the language you want to study is spoken. I suspect it depends on who you are and what you are studying.
My nephews here did not take gap years. They are both about to go for a short experience in Europe. They have plans. It is probably the last opportunity they will have, especially for the one training to be a doctor.
My nephew and niece in another state did not take gap years either but they travelled later, before their children arrived. Travelling was very much a "growing up" experience for them. They needed to do it.
I did not get the opportunity to travel - and gap years were unheard of when I was a student. Working while you were a student was almost unheard of too. I worked as a housemistress in a boarding school for girls. It was the only way I could fund myself through my teacher training. I was very fortunate to get the job and even more fortunate that the hours were designed to fit with my lectures.
I have still done very little travel. When I eventually went to university in London I had high hopes of perhaps spending weekends doing a little sight seeing. The reality was I came home after a year without even having seen Westminster Abbey or the Tower of London. It was not much better when I went back to do further study. I had to work in order to help keep myself there. There was no time to travel and I did not have the money to do it either. I was not, unlike many people, in the position to take a year out and support myself as a waitress, a fruit picker, a factory hand or a nanny. The options open to me were more limited than that. It is just the way things were and I had to accept it. I still made a go of it in other ways and I have achieved other things.
Since I reluctantly returned I have not even had an opportunity to leave Australia. I want to. I want to see a great deal more of the world. Realistically I know it probably will not happen any time soon, if it happens at all. I still hope. I still dream. Why not?
A young teaching student visited us yesterday - and she is very young. Both she and her husband are lovely young people but they have a lot of growing up to do yet. A gap year would have been good for both of them. It would have helped them grow up. It would have made her a better teacher. Teaching is one of those occupations where a gap year, preferably with travel, should surely be compulsory. It would be part of the learning experience. After all, teachers need to teach about the world, not just the subject.
And so I wonder about gap years. Are there some fields in which they should be compulsory? Are they a way of growing up? What would I have been like if I had been able to take a gap year?

8 comments:

Donna Hosie said...

It is a question of cost for many. In the UK, it is easy to take a gap year when the cost of travel is so cheap. In Australia, flights are hideously expensive.

LeslieAE said...

I've never even heard of a gap year, so I think I will have to go google it :) Learn something new every day...

Miriam said...

I think it would have been very good for me - I wasn't mature enough for university when I went. I did think of it briefly, but I knew my father was against it, and I didn't want them to have to support me for an extra year.

Anonymous said...

Not sure air fare is the problem so much as the distance. Parents simply do not like those only in late teens to be so far away. I would be unhappy about mine doing it - even with family in the UK and USA! Ros

Anonymous said...

I did it before it was fashionable and when the airfares were (relatively) much more expensive than they are now. It was the best year of my life - and I did an amazing amount of growing up. Like Ros I do not think the airfares are the problem. I think it is more the distance and all the potential trouble.
I did the overland trek - don't think they can even contemplate doing that now. Sad because it was an amazing experience.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that was me - Chris

JO said...

Gap years are wasted on the young ... that's what sent me on mine in my 50s.

catdownunder said...

Oh - right you lot, I still want a gap year!