Taking a gap year before uni better prepares you for life
Before you ask, yes I did find myself
I’ve really had enough of the gap yah jibes. I’ve tried calling it a ‘sabbatical’ or a ‘period of exploration’ but I just keep getting shit. My friends have even begun referring to their months in Maribel or Tignes as a ‘period of employment in an alpine region specialising in winter sports’ lest they get punched for talking about their ski season again.
When will this discrimination end?
For too long now I’ve fallen back on the easy excuse that everyone is just jealous, which they are. But I’ve realised a far more credible reason to defend the gap year: It better prepares you for life. Fact.
Here are just a few of the important, invaluable benefits taking a year out bestows upon you.
You become independent very quickly
The new found independence is overwhelming at first, but you soon get used to it. There is nothing quite like throwing yourself into a foreign country without any semblance of a plan and just a few friends. By the time you do go to uni, freshers’ week will seem like a walk in the park and meeting new people is as easy as finding a prostitute on the Khaosan Road.
The daily decision between food and alcohol was a tough one. Budgeting was hard, but you survived. Although the food was so cheap you ended up just eating like royalty and putting on a heap of weight.
Long journeys don’t phase you at all
Never again will you complain about a long car or train journey. Try being wedged between a pregnant Caribbean woman and a crate of chickens for 13 hours as you travel the length of Belize.
You have a never ending topic of conversations to use on dates
Well, as long as they’re to do with your gap year.
“The phosphorescent plankton on Koh Rong was truly awe inspiring.”
“The Full Moon Party is seriously over rated. I preferred the Jungle Party.”
“Some parts of Cambodia were so stark. It really was poverty manifest.”
“The War Remnants museum in Ho Chi Minh city was just so powerful.”
You now have an intimate and extensive knowledge of South East Asian geography
I didn’t even go to Laos but now know that the capital is Vientiane. This is the kind of useless knowledge that is invaluable in pub quizzes. I’m just hoping that if I ever get into the final of Pointless, the topic is ‘towns and cities in Vietnam.’
You have loads of tragic clothes for fancy dress events
You haven’t truly been on a gap year unless you become a caricature of everything everyone hates about ‘gap year wankers’.
Spiritual necklace and bracelet combo? Check Vest with foreign beer branding? Check. Totally hip and cool cartilage piercing? Sorry Mum. Harem pants? An absolute necessity.
Every society or sports club has a shit shirts or gap year social. In the days before you’ll be the most popular person on campus as everyone clamours to borrow half of your wardrobe.
You can piss everyone off when watching TV by saying “I’ve been there.”
Have you ever seen the Top Gear episode where they ride motorbikes across Vietnam? Never watch it with me. You’ll want to punch me in the face before I can tell you about the clothes I had made for me in Hoi An. But to those who do know the feeling, you get an odd sense of gratification from seeing somewhere you’ve visited on the telly box.
“The Beach was actually filmed on Ko Phi Phi. Do you want me to show you my photos?”
You get loads of stupid shit out of your system
Being an obnoxious loutish twat for a whole year prepared me perfectly for university where that is very much institutionalised. But by the time you’ve reached third year, all of the stupid shit is out of your system ready for you to move on out into the real world.
You won’t need to defer your grad job
If your only foray into foreign travel was your bois holiday to Maga, then you’ll want to spend at least a year after uni growing long hair, not showering and travelling around Central America. Although this is a strong possibility for those who did take a year out, its not a necessity as you already have loads of cool stamps in your passport.
You find out important things about your body
Losing an eyebrow as a result of odds on is pretty stupid. But what better way to win the friendship of the lads from the home counties you’ve just met. Now they know you’re an absolute legend.
I can however confirm that eyebrows perform a very important biological function stopping sweat dripping into your eye. At 40 degrees this is a very real problem. And yes, sweat and suncream really bloody hurts when you get it in your eye.
You fully understand the power of the sun
Ok, admittedly this isn’t ideal.
Being older than those in the same year at university can only be a good thing. You have an extra year to think about your future career path. You have a new found sense maturity created by spending time around people from a variety of nationalities and ages. And by the time freshers’ week comes around, you’re actually looking forward to learning stuff again although this does very soon fade.
Yes I had a great time travelling, I have no shame in admitting it. But next time you call me a gap year wanker, please don’t. I would still be a wanker if I hadn’t taken one.