Has the ‘Gap Year’ Become a Cliche?
The Gap Year has become such a common step in the journey from school pupil to adult it is hard to believe it is still a fairly recent phenomenon.
For employers scanning CVs, the occurrence of the gap year experience appearing on page 2 has become so widespread it no longer makes an individual stand out – in fact you are more likely to stand out if you haven’t had one.
Back when the experience was still in it’s infancy, when these gapers eventually commenced University, the topic of their recent travels and experiences of working in schools or building them from scratch sparked a number of impressed ooos and arhhhs. Now you might as well start with ‘so where did you go on your gap year?’ Is this evidence enough to call a gap year a cliché however?
Even though the occurrence of a gap year has become widespread – the ‘experience’ is one so many now go through to become the new modern well-travelled, in-tune with different cultures, individual – in my view it shouldn’t really matter if the experience is a cliché.
One does not travel the world or teach kids English just to be able do something that no one else has done – the fact that it is an experience so unlike these gapers’ normal everyday lives is usually the one that sways gapers to travel.
The actual problem with a gap year is that the experience itself, due to the number of people doing it, is rarely ever a genuine insight into another country and culture anymore. Take Thailand for example, the full moon party is a tie pulling many young school leavers to its hot sandy beaches from the smoke of London, promising sunshine, cheap alcohol, bed and food, and most importantly, many other young travelers looking for a good time.
Even the voluntary placements are becoming commercialized – people who want to volunteer often have to pay for the privilege. While booking a trip through an organization with which you typically pay a fee like this can provide peace of mind, when the outcome of the voluntary work is meaningless the purpose of doing it becomes so too – an experience simply for experience’s sake.
The New Gap Year
Taking a year out between school and university is actually a small risk when you think about it in the grand scheme of things. The 18 year old usually has no career at this point, and they can even defer their University start date so they have something to come back to. A new wave of older travelers is now spreading and seeping into the cracks of our air-conditioned, lifeless offices.
These new care-free and adrenaline fuelled gapers are usually people who are established in their careers, have commitments, whether they be a mortgage, a family, or a partner, and to whom giving these very commitments up is a huge risk. There is no guarantee that when they return they will have a job for example.
Taking a gap year in later years takes a stronger character than doing so following A levels, it requires the individual to take a good look at their current life, and everything they have and be prepared to give it all up. People are also less likely to be as supportive to an individual’s decision of leaving a job in the current economic climate to travel the world too, but then I return to my earlier point of why people travel in the first place, and it usually revolves around in the happiest of cases people genuinely wanting to see other places, and little to do with what other people think.
While the gap year in it’s primary form could be considered a cliché, it should not defer any future gapers from taking one whether young or more mature. The actual concept is similar in many cases, but each gap year is in fact different, it is different due to the very fact that all human beings are different and individual, and because of that, no gap year will every be the same.