Gap Year Opportunities Around the Globe with Thinking Beyond Borders

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, Thinking Beyond Borders has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

Video and Photos

Watching a movie with other TBB students
Working in India

About

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.

Highlights
  • 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.

Reviews

9.71 Rating
based on 49 reviews
  • Housing 8.7
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.8
  • Value 9.1
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 8 of 49
Default avatar
Sidra
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Thinking Beyond Borders- Global Gap Year

I had truly the best experience on Thinking Beyond Borders Global Gap year program. From the very first day I had support from the program leaders and the other students. TBB prioritizes making deep connections so my program leaders and the other students were both my friends as well as mentors. Thinking Beyond Borders focuses on critical thinking during seminar as well as in our field work and our homestays. I was constantly reflecting throughout my time which forced me to grow as a person intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally. Now heading off to college I feel more prepared than ever and I know I have learned valuable things I will always hold onto.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I had never been more nervous than right before we moved into our first homestay in Guatemala. I didn't know a lot of Spanish and doubted my abilities to have a conversation with my Guatemalan family, and thought I'd feel like a fish out of water for the next 6 weeks. All my peers and both my leaders reassured me but it wasn't until I had dinner that night with my family, speaking all in Spanish, that I calmed down. And now I will always have family in Guatemala.
Default avatar
Ethan
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best Gap Year Program Ever!

If you are looking for a gap year program with global travel, cultural connection, new experiences, and amazing leaders, TBB is the perfect program for you! I cannot stress enough how amazing this program is. When I was looking for a gap year program, I wanted something that would challenge me and help me grow as a traveller, student, and human. This program is different from any of the other programs that I looked at. By the end of this program you will have learned something. Throughout all of your time on the program you are learning about other cultures, yourself, art, history, and even how to cook. But this type of education is not boring, it is immersive. The experiences you have will be remembered for the rest of your life and the relationships you form with your group and leaders will last just as long. I highly recommend this program to anyone looking for the most amazing gap year on earth!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be afraid to dive into the unknown! I promise you will encounter so many things that you are sacred to do or have never done before, but this is the best place for growth! Not all of the program is going to be easy, but you will have grown so much by the end! I would do it all over again if I could!
Default avatar
Mason
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Global Gap Year Thinking Beyond Boarders

I cannot imagine growing more over six months. This gap year program allowed me to broaden my perspective, learn new languages, immerse myself in new cultures, make lifelong friendships, and learn new academic subjects. I was challenged emotionally, socially, and academically while receiving support from the other students on the program and my two leaders. We lived in Guatemala, Ghana, and Thailand for six weeks each, and in every country I was able to learn about myself through observing a different culture. I would highly recommend this program to anybody interested in learning about international development or their role in the world. You will see a variety of different cultures and be taught about how each one functions, which will allow you to learn more about yourself.

What would you improve about this program?
On the program we weren't allowed to have our personal phones or any device that could connect to wifi, so the program got to facilitate our connection to the outside world. Typically we had one to two hours of tech time a week to talk to our family and friends. While I think students having their phones at all times would be destructive to their learning, I wish we had more time to communicate with home.
Default avatar
Isabella
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Once In a Lifetime Experience. 10/10

I initially didn't want to take my gap year with a program at all. I'd convinced myself it was hypocritical to try "connecting with other cultures" while being surrounded by a group of white, affluent kids. I thought I was better off confronting my privilege and doing service on my own, rather than paying–in and of itself, a privilege– to learn about it. I WAS SO WRONG. After deciding with my parents that traveling with a group was the safest option, I chose TBB and I am so glad.
TBB was the only program that was asking the real questions. Is global development helping or hurting? Who's definition of "development" are we using anyway? TBB challenged me in so many ways (many of them ways I didn't even know I needed) and I am so much stronger for having done it. If you want a raw, emotional program that's going to challenge you to think critically, TBB is it. I met passionate people that pushed me to innovate for seven months straight. I am so lucky to have done this program and, if you're lucky enough to be considering it: GO. I promise you will not regret it.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I have endless answers to this question, but one of my favorite memories was running my first half marathon in Chiang Mai, Thailand with my best friend on the program. We lined up at 4 am at Tha Pae Gate beside 1,000+ people from all over the world. It was an amazing way to see the city lights and the energy was infectious. We blasted music the entire time through our handheld speaker and crossed the finish line just in time for sunrise. Such a pinch me moment.
Default avatar
Isabella
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Once In a Lifetime Experience. 10/10

I initially didn't want to take my gap year with a program at all. I'd convinced myself it was hypocritical to try "connecting with other cultures" while being surrounded by a group of white, affluent kids. I thought I was better off confronting my privilege and doing service on my own, rather than paying–in and of itself, a privilege– to learn about it. I WAS SO WRONG. After deciding with my parents that traveling with a group was the safest option, I chose TBB and I am so glad.
TBB was the only program that was asking the real questions. Is global development helping or hurting? Who's definition of "development" are we using anyway? TBB challenged me in so many ways (many of them ways I didn't even know I needed) and I am so much stronger for having done it. If you want a raw, emotional program that's going to challenge you to think critically, TBB is it. I met passionate people that pushed me to innovate for seven months straight. I am so lucky to have done this program and, if you're lucky enough to be considering it: GO. I promise you will not regret it.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I have endless answers to this question, but one of my favorite memories was running my first half marathon in Chiang Mai, Thailand with my best friend on the program. We lined up at 4 am at Tha Pae Gate beside 1,000+ people from all over the world. It was an amazing way to see the city lights and the energy was infectious. We blasted music the entire time through our handheld speaker and crossed the finish line just in time for sunrise!
Default avatar
Dylan
10/10
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
Emma
10/10
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
Molly
10/10
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:)