Gap Year Opportunities Around the Globe with Thinking Beyond Borders

Video and Photos

Hiking at orientation
Watching a movie with other TBB students


We believe that a gap year should offer more than just travel or service. Our Global Gap year is our signature program. You'll live, explore, and learn in six countries over two semesters with new friends who'll be with you for life. This is the ultimate program for students who want to make the most of their gap year and yearning to discover how they can create meaningful change in the world.

Explore the challenges and solutions to critical global issues in communities around the world.

  • Living with Host Families
  • Fieldwork with Local Experts
  • Academic Study
  • Language Learning
  • Exciting Travel to Guatemala, Panama, Thailand, Cambodia, Ghana, and Morocco

Questions & Answers

Hi there! Thanks for reaching out. We are anticipating offering 3 different college courses for our full year program and 2 courses for the semester programs. Each course is worth 3 college credits. The semester programs will have courses in environmental issues and education for a total of 6 possible credits and the full-year program will have the same two courses in addition to a third course on...

During my Gap year experience, I lived with three different host families. Each one of them came with different experiences, and they are experiences I will not forget. Experiencing a new culture and new lifestyle is made easier when living with a host family as opposed to staying in a hotel with other tourists. It allows for an better opportunity to understand how different cultures work.


based on 44 reviews
  • Housing 8.6
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.9
  • Value 9
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 8 of 44
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible Opportunity

Thinking Beyond Borders was an incredible experience for me, and I've grown so much as a result of it. I did the global gap year program, which means I spent 6 months abroad in countries all around the world, including Guatemala, Panama, Thailand, Cambodia, Ghana, and Morocco. We spent 7 weeks in Guatemala, Thailand, and Ghana, and focused on one specific topic in each of these "core" countries to try to gain a better understanding of what development is, and looks like. We studied sustainable agriculture, education, and public health, respectively. In these 3 core countries, we stayed with host families so that we were as immersed into the culture as possible. And it wasn't always easy; I think all of us wanted to go home at some point or another (and one of us even did), but we had developed such a great community within Thinking Beyond Borders that we were able to push through to the very end, and it was honestly really sad to see everyone go.
I would recommend Thinking Beyond Borders to any high school graduate who wants to take a year off between high school and college, and has a desire to explore the world more, as well as mature as a student, friend, and mentor.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
We at one point had the option to eat a tarantula leg, either in Cambodia or Ghana. I would say it tasted as revolting as it sounds, but one of the girls actually liked it! She said it tasted like chicken. Bleh! Not for me! Still worth the story though!
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Incredible program!!

Thinking Beyond Borders is such a unique program, in that they create an inclusive learning space for all students. I recently took a gap year with TBB and was blown away by their attentiveness to our needs, which made me feel so much more comfortable and trusting. I had so many amazing experiences from being apart of my host sister's quinceanera to exploring a cave in Guatemala to watching the sun set in the Sahara Desert. Looking back, I made so many friends that I feel confident will last for years to come. I was given the opportunity to really push myself out of my comfort zone and for that, I am just to thankful for Thinking Beyond Borders!! If you're considering taking a gap year, look into Thinking Beyond Borders! You won't regret it!

What was your funniest moment?
The funniest moment that comes to mind was on Enrichment week in Guatemala. A few of us were interested in finding a beach and so we all chipped in and paid for a small wooden boat to take us. When we got there we found a high diving board so of course we all wanted to try it! One of the girls in the group had just gotten her eyebrow pierced and decided she wanted to try it out. She climbed up there so bravely but underestimated how high it was and ended up belly flopping into the water, making her eyebrow piercing super red and swollen.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best 7 Months of My Life

Hi! I was a member of the 2018-19 cohort on the TBB Global Gap Gear Program. It is hard to even start to put into words the overall experience of TBB. If you want to dig deep into the depths of yourself, your identity, and your place in this world, then this might just be the perfect program for you, as it was for me. There is something about traveling constantly, in places where you won't see any other tourists, learn from locals, create incredible family bonds with those who welcome you into their houses/families, and all without technology!! When I decided to go on a gap year, I knew I needed space from my life back home, from our culture and society. I needed space to be able to GROW! and expand. I was yearning for a break from sitting at a desk, and that being the extent of my learning in classes. I wanted to go out, to explore, and to be free/encouraged to do so. Thinking Beyond Borders sets you up for incredible opportunities that you yourself are responsible for making happen. Want to plan a trip to the beach with the whole group? Ok, sure, go find a hostel and let's get it organized. Coming super late to seminar because you started having a conversations about defining poverty with a local policeman and he wanted to get coffee and keep talking? Sure, no problem! Be sure to ask him about what got him there. It's these types of spontaneous moments of learning, growth, expansion, and perspective shifting that fosters such unique experiences. My journey couldn't have been possible without my AMAZING leaders and friends. This trip was exactly what I was looking for:
-traveling in foreign places
-living with local families
-learning their language
-independent/ plenty of alone time
-intellectual stimulation (seminars/language lessons/local speakers all throughout each week)
-so many good books!!!
-plenty of time exploring outdoors, hiking, swimming, etc
-a curriculum specifically made to learn more about yourself
-no phone/personal computers
-supports vegetarians!!

I could talk about this program forever. I had one of the most trans-formative times of my life, and I give most of that credit to TBB, for even getting me there, for stretching me in all different ways, and for being an incredible support system the whole way through.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Sitting on the plane from Morocco to the U.S...."no! noooo! What the HELL am I supposed to do now?? I never want to leave my TBB family!!!"
(it's ok, transitions is going somewhat smoothly, I'll have these friends and mentors for the rest of my life:)
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program


Thinking Beyond Borders (TBB)- the pioneer and best gap year program on the market. TBB is able to combine cultural, social, academic and personal learning in an incredible, enjoyable, challenging and exciting way.
Every students gets the opportunity to learn and grow in the area he/she wants to grow and learn in.
TBB provides a structured and safe learning experience all around the globe, that is hard to find somewhere else. The extremely well trained staff creates a web of support for students who need it. TBBs' program is far away from volunteerism and focuses on sustainable worksites combined with student focused seminars, taveling the world and learning about new cultures. Critical thinking and the ability to ask questions is one of the key values of TBBs mission.
I did the global gap year 2016/17 and all I have written above isn't to advertise TBB, it is a honest reflection of my relationship and time I spend and worked with TBB over the cause of seven months.
TBB global gap year program is the best way to learn about yourself, the values you hold and the world that surrounds you. If you are looking for something to do before college you should get into contact with TBB. Many TBB alumni students are happy to get into contact with further students and help them to get to know TBBs mission better. Next to a big number of American alumni students TBB also has many European almuni students, who will offer support in the process of getting to know TBB.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Take A Gap Year

I wanted to do something that was off of the beaten path, the beaten path of course being going to college right after high school. This gap year program certainly fulfilled that "idea". I've learned and experienced things that no college freshman that went straight from high school to college would ever even dream of. I've experienced poverty, disease, death, hunger, and corruption in the countries I have visited. Amidst these pains, I have also experienced beauty and elegance in their oddest forms. From natural beauty of the ocean in South Africa, mountains in India, and the forest in Ecuador, to human beauty in its most unique forms. Individual human beauty...people that, despite suffering from several major illnesses, somehow manage to keep on living, struggling, and rising above some of the most daunting circumstances I have ever seen. People that have gone through hell yet still manage to put a smile on their face and laugh through the pain were probably the best things I experience. It beats out experiences such as the Taj Mahal, an African safari, and Machu Picchu. This trip changed my life for the better in countless ways.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Gap Years are for EVERYONE

Words cannot describe how amazing my experience with TBB was. I came into this program burnt out from high school, wanting to travel and learn more about the world and myself, as cheesy as that sounds. To say that the program changed me would not be true, TBB gave me the safe space and the tools to truly discover more about the worlds issues and how I can become an effective agent of change. TBB gave me an amazing community of people and the opportunity to go live and work in these local communities. You cannot learn about the world in a classroom, we learned through interactions with our host families, through readings and seminars, through discussions with each other at anytime of day, through random adventures, and through questioning what we saw around us. If you get the chance to do TBB, take on the challenge and just do it, you won't regret it.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Thinking Beyond Borders--DO IT!!!!

Thinking Beyond Borders is an amazing program. I grew so much on my year with them, both intellectually and emotionally. The homestays allow you to make deep connections with local communities and literally make families all over the world. Travelling with a small group of students is a lot of fun, and you always have a support system. Doing TBB was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I have no regrets. If in doubt, do it!!!!! You will have sooo much fun and grow so much. College will still be here when you get back.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Take a gap year!!

All through high school, I researched and dreamt about taking a gap year, but it never seemed like something I would actually do. I enjoyed academic rigor and I was excited by the collegiate level of learning. However, as I struggled with the college admission process senior year, I finally realized that the opportunity to pause my education career and explore the world might not come again for a long time and there is no better way to expand your horizons and explore your passions and potential through immersion to new culture and ideas. Thinking Beyond Borders was one of two programs I strongly considered. Looking back at it now, it is by far the best decision I have made yet. TBB fosters an inmate learning community through seminar style learning, reflecting the global issues you are witnessing, living and working to understand how to fix in daily life. Everyday you will pull information and connections from field work in local organizations, group dynamics and excursions, meal times with host families, student exploration through communities and TBB's curriculum of seminar and literature. I explored ideas I had never thought about and delved into topics that I understood, but I came away with a more grounded and holistic perspective. Every student walks away with unique thoughts about our global world, but all share the same drive and determination to be effective agents of change in the future.

What would you improve about this program?
Don't be alarmed by the seemingly small amount of information that is disclosed pre-departure (my mom was definitely worried about what I was actually doing and if I would be safe in all these foreign countries). Trust the process and accept that living day to day is an incredibly rewarding opportunity that many people don't get to step back and enjoy.