My "Northern, state-school" Style Gap Year


Megan Valentine

My "Northern, state-school" Style Gap Year

“So, I spent 3 weeks in Bali and then travelled South East Asia.”

“Oh cool! I actually went to South America and volunteered for 6 months; what about you?”

Erm, I worked. Took a couple of city breaks…

Honestly, after starting university last September and speaking with fellow gap year students, that is how most conversations went. I think most people assume that people take a year out to travel, see the world and “find themselves." They mimic “gap yahh” for a reason: it’s often thought that the person is wealthy, from the South and confident. Three attributes I lacked.

In fact, I didn’t actually decide to take a year out until late May, by which point any plans to set off on a soul finding sabbatical in September had already been shot down by that time.

I knew I wanted to save some money prior to university so that I didn’t have to worry about finding a job once I got there. As soon as my summer job finished, I began the search. To be honest, until about December I was not in a good place. I was in a job I hated (first lesson learned: if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!) I still had no idea if I even wanted to go to uni, and the amount of jobs I was being rejected from was mounting as much as my regret.

In December, this all changed when I found a Christmas job I enjoyed, I was then made permanent, and I also started tutoring too. In the end, I had three jobs, did two volunteering projects, maintained my dance classes two days a week and purchased a gym membership. I was THRIVING both mentally and physically. I also got to visit five countries too, saving enough to do a bit of travel in the September before I started uni!

If you’re now thinking of taking a year out due to the pandemic, but worry it’s too late to decide, it really isn’t. Whilst my experience may be different, it just proves that you don’t need a mountain of money or confidence to have the best year of your life so far.