Certain university departments stipulate that a year, or at the least a semester, of study will be compulsory to qualification. The catalyst behind this caveat is clear: to broaden your mind, you first have to broaden your outlook, and thereâ€™s no better way to do this than to jet off to foreign climes. There are some things that simply canâ€™t be taught from a book, some experiences which are better in the flesh. In travel, there has also been a subtle shift towards a slower, more immersive attitude, to stay longer in a destination longer to more fully benefit from the travel experience. From the artworks and buildings of Europe to the complexity of conversational Japanese, some lessons are best learned away from home.
Thereâ€™s no better way to grasp a language quickly than to be fully surrounded by its culture, environment, and its native speakers. Whether youâ€™re learning your target foreign language to teach English to its speakers, or to cultivate an understanding of a different culture, jetting off to the country of its origins is the first step you can take towards gaining fluency. Hungarian or Japanese, Budapest or Tokyo, itâ€™s likely your learning curve will skyrocket as soon as you have to navigate your way through a city of baffling street signs, and order from a menu every day.
Science and Nature
You can be an eco-warrior studying environmental science. You can be a naturalist hooked on zoology. Either way, you can learn a lot from visiting a new place. There are some amazing volunteering opportunities available to gap year students, and even conservation scholarships. Perhaps you want to spend time in Greece protecting leatherback turtles, muck out playful elephants in Thailand or track whales in the North Sea. Whatever your choice, you can experience real wildlife conservation while having the adventure of a lifetime.
Some places have humbling stories to tell. There are ancient civilizations like the crumbling mountaintop city of Machu Picchu in Peru and the pyramids of Giza. There are tales of enduring love, like that of the TajMahal, and there are tales of ageless, unceasing conflict. You might choose to trek the Great Wall of China, or to travel through the desert to Petra in Jordan, Indiana Jones-style. However you choose to journey back in time, youâ€™ll be doing it in the sure knowledge that it will be improving your prospects for the future.
The adventure of travel is an adventure in learning. You experience the real world, taking lessons from it that perhaps no school can test you on, but which you can later apply in life itself.
Image by skippyjon, used under Creative Commons license.