Graduating soon? Switching career paths? Don’t know exactly where you want to go in life?

Gap years and sabbaticals, while still largely seen as alternative options, are becoming more mainstream, and there’s a good reason why! Taking time off to try something new is a great way to make an impact, grow as a person, and clarify your aspirations along the way. No matter what you do with it, a gap year or sabbatical is sure to leave you feeling refreshed, more focused, and more sure about your future goals.

Unfortunately, with our seemingly never-ending busy schedules, our constant planning for the future, and the expectation that life doesn’t come with breaks, it’s not easy to find the time to do something different. However, the challenge of arranging a gap year or sabbatical just makes it more special, as it truly becomes a once in a lifetime experience.

Don’t waste this unique opportunity. Read on to learn how to make the best of this time in your life:

 

1. Learn a new skill

You finally have time to do that thing you always wanted to do, but never got around to because more important things kept getting in the way. Contrary to what people might tell you, a gap year or sabbatical doesn’t have to be fancy and expensive. In fact, you can have a great time right in your hometown!

Although traditional educational gap years involve heading to another country to absorb its culture and language, you don’t have to move to Italy to learn Italian over a big bowl of pasta, or go to Paris to study the art of cheesemaking while gazing at the Eiffel Tower. Instead, dust off that guitar that’s been sitting in the corner since before you can remember, take those coding classes that you never had time for, or finally learn how to build a bike. By the time you finish, you’ll be a computer-savvy, guitar-playing rockstar, with an awesome eco-friendly mode of transportation.

 

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2. Get Outside

When you’re looking at the prospect of a 9 to 5 office job, spending a gap year or sabbatical in the great outdoors starts to sound more and more appealing. Go discover the nature in your own backyard and see how you can help out in the natural parks around you. Alternatively, if you’re feeling adventurous, go explore your options for volunteering on a farm, which sometimes comes with the added bonus of food and accommodation. Or, if you’re interested in a specific environmental issue, like planting trees, find an organization that addresses that issue and ask them how you can get involved.

 

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3. Share your time and talents with others

Instead of spending your gap year or sabbatical learning how to do something new, you could always switch roles and try teaching something that you’re passionate about. There are plenty of opportunities for native speakers to teach english all around the world, and some don’t even require any formal language teaching certification. Or, if you want to stay a little closer to home, look for chances to share your talent with others. Put those newly acquired guitar skills to use and go teach some chords to a grade school class or liven up a nursing home – you might just inspire someone along the way!

Don’t have any talents that you feel comfortable sharing with people? That’s fine too! If anything, there are plenty of people, from senior citizens, to school children, to those down on their luck, who need some company and with whom you only need to share your time.

 

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Image: Sarah Isaacs Photography

 

PS. At the Zambia Festival of Action, you can combine all three awesome gap year ideas! Come spend a week (or two or three) with Greenpop in Livingstone, Zambia. Learn about the environment and sustainability. Get outside and help plant thousands of trees. Share your time with Zambian locals and other volunteers from around the world! Make your gap year or sabbatical count!

 

By Natalia Solarz, Greenpop Communications Intern

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