Friday, 25 May 2012

Where to Start:

 Successful Gap Years &the mygapyear Advantage

Hello future gappers and interested readers.  Hope you found our series on myths about gap years helpful.  I believe there is something about our transition from spring into summer that causes us to think differently about our lives.  We spring clean our houses, wardrobes and for some our lives! With all the new growth around us - leaves on trees and the sprouting bounty of our vegetable gardens.  For many this is a time of transition as well - out of high school, away from college or university or the end of university. This is a great time for you - who are in one of those life phases or the young adult in your life to explore an opportunity to take a gap year, short or long, to 'spring clean' their life in 2012.

How do I plan a gap year?

  1. Create a personal vision/goal ex. figure out my career direction; build self-confidence and independence; learn French
  2. Write down manageable steps to support your vision/goal ex. use a calendar;
  3. Create a budget for your gap year; think about things you love to do
  4. Research related programs and experiences that relate to your vision/goals ex. volunteer to work with children overseas; learn French in France
  5. Share your ideas and surround yourself with people who will encourage and support you to keep this vision alive
  6. Reflect on your self-learning and what direction you want to take as a result of your experience ex. a different academic program; a different perspective 

Feeling overwhelmed? Not sure were to start?  That is where mygapyear can help.  We have a team of experts who are eager to help you discover your passions, goals and dreams.

The mygapyear Advantage 

Our unique approach develops confident and empowered young adults ready for the opportunities that lie ahead. We partner with you to create a meaningful gap year through:

  • Coaching, Emotional Intelligence Building and Leadership Development
  • A researched and personalized gap year plan
  • Ongoing support and encouragement throughout the experience

Interested in seeing how we can help make sense of a gap year for you or the young adult in your life?  Or do you know a school, community group or individual we should get in touch with?  Visit our website or encourage the individual in your life who could benefit from hearing about our work to message us.  We would be happy to chat with you about your goals, vision and questions about your gap year.  

Friday, 18 May 2012


Welcome back, readers.  This is the final posting in our three week series.  We have explored myths about gap years, what happens to an individual's academic journey and finally, we want to share stories from some of our current gappers.  Below is an entry from a gapper who is travelling in South America.  Our clients have traveled all over the world and Canada.  Blogging is a great way to say in touch with family and friends while abroad.  mygapyear values the unique opportunity blogging can add to an individual's gap year experience.  It is a great tool to capture learning, stories and a fun way to stay in touch with family and friends. 

Part Three:  What could you do on a gap year? 
Blog excerpt from a current blogging gapper!

Hey all—

I am proud to say that we have all returned safe and sound to civilization after two amazing weeks in the Amazon. All a little dirty and smelly, we can't help but be proud of all the hard work we’ve accomplished. 

Our first week was spent in the small village of Campo Cocha and our second week was spent just up the river volunteering at a rain forest reserve run by the Arajuno Jungle Lodge. 

In Campo Cocha, we lived with local families in quite rustic conditions. These local families were Quichua, the indigenous people to this region. 

Our mornings were spent working and spending time with our families while our afternoons were spent running a "kids camp" for all the children of the village
Standing in the Buttresses of the ¨Tree of Life¨
Standing in the Buttresses of the ¨Tree of Life¨
. The work that filled our mornings included: collecting cacao and opening the fruits with a machete to collect the coco beans inside, chopping wood, fishing, collecting yucca and plantains, panning in the river for gold, and much more. 

After a hearty lunch of some variation of yucca and plantains, we set off to go to the center of the village to run the kids camp.  Some of us had to walk as far as a kilometre and a half (about one mile) each way. 

We ran the kids camp by doing a different theme of activities (arts, sports or science) each day. Whether it was painting wacky pictures with water colours, kicking a ball around a soccer field with 30 very enthusiastic and energetic little ones, or having slime fights, the kids always had us laughing and having a great time. 

After being exhausted from hard work in the mornings and chasing after kids all afternoon, we would return back to our host families to help prepare dinner and spend time together. We happily collapsed into our beds every night for a much deserved sleep. 

            A week flew by, and after a tearful goodbye with our families, we boarded a small motorized canoe and travelled up the river, deeper into the rain forest, to the Arajuno Jungle lodge for a week of ecological conservation work. 

Upon arrival, we discovered that our lodging was not nearly as rustic as our experience in Campo Cocha village had been
Meredith -- Just Another Woman of the Village
 Another Woman of the Village

. Tom, the former Peace Corps trainer who owns and runs the lodge, had outfitted the beautiful hardwood and thatched roof buildings with nice furnishings, including a hammock for almost everyone in our group, a TV with a selection of DVDs, a stereo, and an ipod player --  all completely run by solar power. Even his water system was run by rain water he collected in reservoirs. It was truly an ecologically sustainable palace. 

However, pleasant lodging aside, our work was just as physically demanding as it had been in Campo Cocha. Tom, who works tirelessly to restore the Yellow Spotted Turtle populations of the river, had us chopping up bamboo with machetes, planting bamboo on the riverside and hauling bags of sand from a beach up to his enclosure of Yellow Spotted Turtles to provide them with sand to lay their eggs in. With four and a half hours of work every morning, we were all thankful to have our lazy afternoons of curling up in a hammock with a good book. 

            But now our time at the Arajuno Jungle Lodge has ended, and our time in the Amazon rain forest in general, and we are off to the bustling markets of Otavalo. It’s hard to believe that our time in South America is almost over and we’ll be seeing you all soon.

But until then—

Hope all is well back home.

Thank you for joining us on our three week exploration of taking a gap year.  Next week, we will begin a new series.  Please join us as we explore the foundations of  successful gap years.  

Friday, 11 May 2012


Last week we explored three common myths about taking a gap year.  A gap year is a unique opportunity to take time away from your regular routine based on your budget, timeline and goals.  But what about school -good question!  This week we are exploring a theme of myths related to post-secondary planning and a gap year.We hope it answers some of your questions,future gappers and families!

Part Two: What about a post-secondary education? 

Going back, getting started and why a gap year can help!

En route to Colca Canyon, Peru

4. They/You will lose a year. When personal discovery and learning takes place, - nothing is lost! Gappers have experienced many different scenarios when working with universities/colleges. Start by looking into your university/college to see if they offer a deferral (or sabbatical) option so that you can delay the start of your first (or next) year. If you have to re-apply, consider building your portfolio and experiences over the course of a gap year to demonstrate your commitment to education in your field.  Some individuals are not ready to embark on their next educational steps after high school.  Here is a video we have put together where some of our clients share their stories about taking a structured gap year.

5. They/You will never return/go to school. By taking a gap year and committing to learning more about the world around you and how you fit into the larger picture  you have the potential to return more motivated, passionate and dedicated to a field that truly inspires you. This renewed sense of energy and self awareness helps young adults commit to an educational path or direction that engages them now and  in their future.

6. Universities/colleges frown on gap years. Gap years have been encouraged in Australia and the UK for decades - they are just starting to be recognized in North America.    Check out what HarvardParenting Blogs and Princeton have to say about gap years in North America. Want to help us put gap years on the radar of universities and colleges?  Please sign our petition on the top right corner of our blog!

Join us again next week as we explore part three in our series: stories of our gappers! We will start to share with you the plethora of stories, experiences and adventures of the individuals we work.

Have we de-mystified gap years for you? Have you started dreaming or planning some time away from your regular routine? Let us know below!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Not sure what to do next? 

What about taking a gap year?

 Are you feeling undecided about going straight to University or College? Or do you have a young adult that just is not ready  for the next step? Perhaps you're just back from your first year post secondary experience and it just didn't fit well or wasn't as interesting as you thought . How about taking a gap year?  Join our conversation for the next few weeks as we explore what a gap year entails and some common myths about taking a gap year or a break from your regular routine. 

                 Part One:  Three Common Myths about a Gap Year                                   

1. It has to be one full year. Not true! Gap years are a conscious and purposeful step away from ordinary routine. Gap years can range from a few months over the summer to over a year.  Some gappers work for a period of time to finance their experience.  Also, there are many ways to be creative with the time you have available to take a break from your regular routine.  Typically, it is encourage to have at least four to six months.

2. It is expensive. A gap year can meet any budget with some careful planning. Properly searching out organizations that are cost-effective and safe can be done. You can also choose local experiences, earn money and learn to save by having a job that expands your horizons! Working within your budget will help this year be a success!

3. It has to be overseas. Gap years can be experienced anywhere: locally, nationally and internationally! Remember to look at your goals, budget and at travel advisories when deciding where to travel.   Learning, about others, yourself and your passion can happen anywhere as long as you are open to the experience!

Have you started to think about your gap year or a gap year plan for the young adult in your life? Leave a comment below or get in touch with us to start chatting about your plan and how we can help!  Join us next week as we explore three more common myths about taking a gap year and discuss the question: What about school?