Stories from Students who have taken a Gap Year.

Gap Year Ski & Snowboard Instruction, Canada-NONSTOP Ski

Jake on Gap Year in Canada: Photo courtesy of NONSTOP Ski Adventure

My Gap Year Story
by Jacob

When was the last time your parents or someone at school came to you and said "you should take time off school and take a Gap Year?" If you're like me, then chances are probably not! But taking a Gap Year may be the best year of your life.

My name's Jake, I'm 19 and after I graduated American high school, I took a Gap Year. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do in college. So I went to a cultural immersion program in Jerusalem. I traveled to Egypt and took scuba diving lessons in the Red Sea. Then I went to Canada and became a ski instructor. After that I went to New York City and became a bartender. And as of now, I'm in Europe touring around with some British mates that I met on my ski instructor course. Sound good? It's been awesome!

Gap Year in Central America - Carpe Diem International Education

Semester in Central America: Photo Courtesy of Carpe Diem International Education

My Carpe Diem Testimonial
by Dannielle, 21

I took a semester off from college in February 2008 and went to Central America for three months. I traveled in a group of 8 students and two leaders. We studied Spanish at two Spanish schools, volunteered within the communities that we lived in, and spent time discovering more about ourselves. I was coming into my second year at College, and I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I felt lost and confused about my future and about who I was. I wanted to go to another country and not only learn about a new culture, but learn more about myself, and how fortunate I was living in Canada.

Gap Year in Israel, Study Abroad and Travel

Noah Stern, Traveling on Gap Year in Israel: Photo Courtesy of Masa Israel Journey

Noah Stern, from Los Angeles, CA decided to take a gap year before college rather than waiting until junior year. Noah went to Israel in 2007-2008 on a Masa Israel Journey Gap year program. Noah studied Hebrew, Arabic, Middle Eastern Politics, History, and traveled independently in Israel, North Africa and Europe. He has contributed his story to inspire others to consider the benefits of a gap year before college.

Noah says of his gap year.."Not only has my Hebrew improved tremendously, but I can now read and write Arabic and I have learned a great deal about the political situation in the Middle East."

Gap Year Story

by Noah Stern

Gap Year Reflections

Lauren Rhode, Woodcarving in Morocco: Courtesy of Global LAB

Lauren Rhode is currently on a gap year between high school and starting college in fall 2008 at Princeton University. She spent the first three months of her gap year last fall in Morocco with Global Learning Across Borders (Global LAB), a non-profit that runs international immersion gap year programs. Lauren's gap year experience living with a Moroccan family and learning Arabic, working on community service projects, and traveling to Marrakesh and the Sahara desert have given her time to explore her interests and passions without being burdened by assigned curriculum . Lauren says of her gap year...

My Up With People Journey

Jeff Z. in Thailand: Photo Courtesy of Up with People

Jeff joined the Up with People program based out of Denver, Colorado, on a six month multicultural education program in 2007 traveling to seven countries and twenty cities learning global citizenship and gaining in depth cross-cultural understanding. Jeff says of his gap year experience, "I learned more about the world than I ever could have learned reading a book." Jeff's story below is an exceptional testimony about the personal impact and benefits of international travel and cultural immersion as part of a structured gap year experience before college. See link to Up with People at end of article.

The Journey of a Lifetime

Gap Year in Israel, Study Abroad and Cultural Immersion

Photo Courtesy of Masa Israel Journey

Eitan is student at George Washington University majoring in History and Political Science. His gap year in Israel in 2006-2007 involved cultural immersion and study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He has contributed his story to inspire others to consider the benefits of a gap year before college.

Study Abroad and Cultural Immersion in South Africa

Katie Melhado Cato Township SA_0.jpg

Katie is a senior at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania. Katie's gap year experience during spring semester 2007 involved study abroad and cultural immersion in South Africa through the School for International Training. She took classes in Zulu language, public health, and participated in a homestay with a Zulu family in Cato Township outside Durban. The last month of her semester was spent conducting independent research of emergency health services to rural communities. Following is a Q and A session I had with Katie about her unique study abroad experience. Katie also contributed a few paragraphs that testify to the powerful impact a cultural immersion can make on young person's life!

Q: Why did you decide to take this unique study abroad experience?

A: I decided to study in South Africa because I knew I wanted a completely different cultural experience. I wanted to be immersed in a culture that was 100% different from mine, and I was interested in African culture. I wanted to be challenged.

Q: Why did you choose this particular program with the School for International Training?

Princeton to Offer Incoming Students a Gap Year of Social Service Overseas

Princeton Campus-Google Images

According to a New York Times article published Feb 19, 2008 by Karen W. Arenson titled Princeton Plans for an Early Year Abroad, incoming students will be given the option of a year of social service overseas before stepping onto campus. Princeton’s president, Shirley M. Tilghman was quoted in the article as saying “Such a program would give students a more international perspective, add to their maturity and give them a break from academic pressures.” Details of the program and costs have yet to be finalized, but it is estimated that ten percent of the incoming class will choose to participate. Princeton’s decision is significant and will impact the gap year movement in the US.

The US Gap Year: Possible Response from Higher Ed Institutions

Gap Year Reflections from Ben Casnocha


Ben Casnocha, a student at Claremont McKenna College, was recently asked to weigh in on our site about his own a gap year experience. He happily obliged, and provided the following 'thoughts' about his gap year experience. Ben has helped popularize the gap year concept in the US with his Gap Year Travel Blog. He is also an entrepreneur and author.

International Students Take Time Out to Work at Colorado Ski Resort

Estevao and Emma: International Student Workers at Eldora Mountain

Eldora Mountain Resort is located in the Colorado Rocky Mountains near the historic mountain town of Nederland, 21 miles northwest of the city of Boulder, home to the University of Colorado. Eldora attracts students from around the globe seeking ski resort work during time out from university studies. I recently interviewed two students, one from Brazil, and one from South Africa, who opted to work at Eldora and travel in the US. Emma and Estevao discussed their reasons for choosing Eldora and how they obtained work visas. Note: The student exchange organizations that provided their visas also assist US students wishing to work, volunteer and travel overseas.