How to talk about your Gap Year

Want to talk about your gap year and not sound like a pretentious prick? CONRAD JARMAN has some advice for you…

Anyone who’s been on a gap year before they’ve come to uni, or been on a year abroad and returned home, knows the daily struggle of talking to someone about your time away from home. You want to tell people about what you got up to, but everyone quickly gets bored of hearing you talk about how much of a ‘life-changing experience’ you had.

Some of us have done some pretty awesome stuff before coming to uni, seeing the wonders of the world, helping out a community in a construction project, inter-railing around Europe or even travelling down one of Australia’s coasts. We shouldn’t be made to feel like this was a worthless year not worth talking about. But here are some tips from personal experience to avoid sounding pretentious if you try to:

Idyllic walking-off-into-distance shot

1) Never refer to it as your ‘gap year’

Or even worse, your ‘gap yah’, do you really want to be associated with this guy?! ‘That totally reminds me of this time on my gap yah’ will not make you seem like you’re humorously mocking social convention, it’ll make you seem like a prize tool.

Compulsory Machu Picchu snap

2) Don’t bang on about it

Be wary of bringing up your travelling too much. If you talk about it every single time you get even a hint of a chance, people will soon think ‘oh here we go again’ and will quickly become sick of hearing you talk about that time you rescued a dying lion. Don’t try and relate it to everyone else’s experiences either, people probably just don’t care. Think Howard Wolowitz in The Big Bang Theory relating everything to his time in space. Talk about your experiences in moderation, and pick your timing wisely.

On my spiritual journey…

3) Don’t exaggerate

When talking about your travels, be careful not to ham it up too much, or you could end up with egg all over your face. Sure, saying you trekked through the Yukon on your own for two weeks living off the land might sound cool, but no-one’s ever going to believe you. If you have done something absolutely crazy, think about how you put it across so no-one can possibly call bullshit, otherwise you may quickly fall from grace and that girl you were trying to impress with your story will no longer be interested.

Don’t say you went here…

…when you worked here.

4) Pick your targets

This may sound obvious but make sure you take your audience into account. Your mates don’t want to hear about how much you have grown, how independent you are now and what you have learned from the experience, even though employers might do. They want to hear about that time that stranger on the bunk above you threw up all over your mate’s stuff, or the time you almost fell off a moped next to a cliff edge. They want to hear about how messy you got in Thailand and ended up getting with a lady-boy, not about how lucky you now know you are from encountering Third World poverty.

This one time with the cops…

5) Just don’t talk about it

If you really don’t want to sound like a pretentious wanker then don’t talk about it, plain and simple. There’s a stigma against people telling stories from their travels now, so either suck it up and be prepared for the inevitable chat, or just avoid talking about it all together.