Rather than guessing what you may or may not want to do for the next 50 years, why not climb Mount Everest or volunteer to teach English to children in developing countries? Within the past 20 years, the world has become a smaller place and suddenly flying to China for a four-month internship no longer makes you sound like a complete nutcase. That’s where the beauty of the ‘gap yah’ comes in and this is a list of all the things you can expect to happen once you come back from your adventure.
You find yourself correcting people’s pronunciation of foreign words
‘No, no, no – it is ‘le pain’ not ‘le paiN’. The n is silent! That’s what I learned in Paris anyway.’
You have cravings for food that you will never find in its original form in your home country
And you will miserably fail at trying to make them yourself – Vietnamese summer rolls, Spanish paella – all they have in common is not only that you probably dream about them at night, they are also really difficult to make on your own. The taste just never seems to be entirely right and no matter how many foreign herbs you throw on the dish, you know that you will have to wait until you’re back in its home country to really live out your inner foodie.
Whenever there’s a bad weather day, you remember the days when you were more worried about whether you put on enough sunscreen rather than enough layers
Running out of the house with nothing more than a pair of shorts and a t-shirt was just that simple. Now you actually need to check the weather forecast to see whether you shouldn’t take that hat with you after all.
You can make friends with just about anyone
When you have to kill five hours at the bus stop to get to your next destination, talking to strangers suddenly becomes so much more entertaining. The likelihood of finding like-minded people on the road is also a lot higher and with a bit of practice, finding common ground with strangers seems so much easier.
You don’t mind sleeping in accommodation that you would never stay in if you were with your parents
Although you may be used to sleeping in nice bed and breakfasts or beach resorts, travelling on your own teaches you to take what you get. From one star hostels, to the air mattress of a nearby couchsurfer, you’ve done it all. After all, that gap year budget isn’t infinite.
Your Instagram feed is full of pictures that might as well have been taken by a travel agency
Tropical rain forests and ancient temples – after a few months of seeing it all your family and friends will feel like they were right there with you. Besides, finding the right angles for all these sights comes in handy when you are back and are trying to keep up your social media game.
You start getting creative when things go wrong
There are so many things that go off plan while travelling. You could end up losing your wallet, have your translation app go on strike, or just not find the hostel you booked. Figuring out how to communicate with locals or making up alternatives, tends to become second nature after a while.
Meeting people from different backgrounds has made you more open-minded and welcoming
Rather than being scared by the strange and unexpected, you embrace any opportunity to gain new experiences. Whereas meeting people from all over the world or taking part in, say an African dance class, used to be something only your extrovert friends would do, it is now your turn to jump into the unknown.
Whenever you meet someone from the countries you’ve visited, you can’t help but start exchanging stories and experiences
Locals just seem to get your love for the places you visited and all the food you tried so much better, since they know what you are talking about. However, this will probably lead to you completely ignoring everyone else around you.
You will have probably come out of your one-year break being more confident and knowing that you can do anything you set your mind to (including travelling some more). And even though your wanderlust might never be entirely satisfied, you know that there is always the opportunity to start saving up and go back some day. But in the meantime you might as well live your life to the fullest under the motto ‘home is where the heart is’.