We have turned into a nation of travellers, as in those who like to fly, take euro-trail, or hitch to different countries. With a wealth of airlines, promising to provide flight prices as small as the aeroplane seats it isn’t surprising that so many 18 plus-year-olds opt to take a ‘gap yarrr’ to find the answers to all of life’s big questions. ‘So what is the problem?’ I hear you all question. Personally, there is no problem. I am in favour of the gap year, the travelling, the exploration of the world we live in. How can you beat first-hand experience of different cultures, lifestyles and meeting an extensive group of different people? Whilst many agree with the gap-year, a lot of people frown upon the six to twelve month long ‘holiday’ as it has often been branded.
As a faithful fan of David Mitchell I was shocked to read an article back in January of last year where he ultimately slams the gap year. The article expresses his joy that gap years prove to be too expensive for the vast majority of students in Britain. Mitchell expresses his relief that ‘our student population won’t be contaminated by a vociferous minority who think they’ve seen the world and have the beaded bracelets and ethnic ponchos to prove it’ before stating that he himself had taken a gap year.
This begs the question, is there any more to travelling than merely collecting souvenirs and re-re-re-cycling the content of your rucksack of clothes.
The view on young people travelling is divided. A head of a Recruitment company has said that he won’t even look at a graduate who had opted to go travelling for a year unless they had lived in ‘squalor’ and not just gone to have fun. But is there really anything fundamentally wrong with having fun? It’s a common phrase ‘you’re only young once’ so why are students now being slammed for having fun, meeting new people and seeing some new countries in the process? It may seem we’re in want of putting off the ‘real world’ of jobs, bills and adult-like-activities but everyone is aware we have to face this one day, a year does not make a great deal of difference. Yet, like a lot of things, this argument is cyclical and subject to opinion.
I am incredibly fortunate to come from a family of travel-lovers. I am therefore biased and will support all of those in favour of a gap year, where potentially you can learn some of life’s biggest lessons… not just knowing how to utilise the washing machine without Mum. Gaining experience is gaining experience, regardless of location, type or field you’re gaining the experience in. If life isn’t for living, countries aren’t for visiting, and the tourism industry would crash and fail miserably, along with a lot of people’s two weeks of happiness every July or August.
So I say gap years aren’t just for finding the cheapest bars or collecting the most wristbands and mood rings. If you can afford financially and time-wise to go abroad and see the world, then I say book me on that seat next to you, we’ve got some travelling to do.