Global Gap Year -- Thinking Beyond Borders
97% Rating
(41 Reviews)

Global Gap Year -- Thinking Beyond Borders

A gap year should be more than just travel or service. This unparalleled adventure is TBB's signature program. You'll live, explore, and learn in six countries over two semesters with friends who'll be with you for life. This is the ultimate gap year program for you want to make the most of their gap year and discover how you can create meaningful change in the world.

Explore the challenges and solutions to critical global issues in communities around the world. This unparalleled gap year program includes:

- Living with Host Families
- Fieldwork with Local Experts
- Academic Study
- Language Learning
- Independent Travel Opportunities

Itinerary – 7 months:
Orientation: Guatemala – 2 weeks
Unit 1: Food & Sustainability - Guatemala – 7 weeks
Enrichment: Guatemala: Mayan Ruins & Volcanoes – 1 week
Unit 2: Education - Thailand – 7 weeks
Enrichment: Angkor Wat – 1 week
Unit 3: Public Health - Ghana – 7 weeks
Enrichment: Morocco - 1 week
Culmination: Washington, DC - 3 weeks

United States of America
Program Tags
Adventure Travel
Cultural Exploration
Hands-On Learning
Language Immersion
Post-High School
Study Abroad
Volunteer Abroad
6-12 Months
Academic Year
Host Family
Primary Language
Age Min.
Age Max
Starting Price
Price Details
Program tuition is $31,000, including all costs except for airfare. Airfare is estimated at $5,000, though it varies based on fuel costs. Need-based scholarships and tuitions financing options are available. Learn more on our Financial Aid page.

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

based on 41 reviews
  • Housing 8.7
  • Support 9.5
  • Fun 9.9
  • Value 8.9
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 31 - 41 of 41
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TBB Enriched My Life

TBB enriched my college experience (and my life more generally) in more ways than I could ever express. I am no longer a passive learner - TBB gave me the skills to take ownership of my educational experience. The curriculum opened my eyes to global issues and forced me to challenge the assumptions I held about the world and my place in it. In every course I've taken thus far in college, I have been able to relate abstract ideas and statistics to individuals and concrete experiences I encountered on my gap year. I learned an incredible amount about myself and my capabilities while nurturing a sense of adventure and curiosity about the world around me. Cultivating a strong sense of self is critical for making the most of your four years in college. Living in homestays, working with local experts on a variety of projects, taking language classes, traveling, reading, and discussing important global issues with my peers... all of TBBs program components combined made for an unforgettable year that has shaped my life for the better.

Yes, I recommend
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Excellent program!

I studied international development issues through readings, seminars, capacity-building projects, and research projects in the field. Traveled for 8 months in 8 counties. Lobbied for international development funding to Capital Hill Congressmen and presented to high schools in D.C.

Yes, I recommend
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Meaningful experience for those willing to make it such

TBB is a unique and transformational experience. You will learn a ton from qualified teachers (they all have masters degrees!) and community members, you will live with welcoming families, you will challenge what you know. Together with a close group of peers you will live, work, and play in a variety of countries, probing deeper into issues that typical travel allows

What it is not:
+ 100% easy every day
+ A fun way to party for a year
+ A luxurious vacation in fancy hotels

How can this program be improved?

The program being great requires participants to engage actively -- encourage your peers to do this and set the tone up front.

Yes, I recommend
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Get uncomfortable!!

I took a gap year, because I felt like I was living in a bubble: a bubble of privilege shielding me from the real world. Thinking Beyond Borders forced me to step outside of myself, my community and my home country, and turn my eyes to the most pressing issues of our time. I learned the real side of how complicated development work really is rather than just completing some band-aid service project that ultimately served me, not the people I am trying to help. Traveling with eighteen of my best friends was an incredible experience that I wish I could do again! Living in home-stays reminded me of the innate humanness we all share and the ways we communicate without words. Nights sitting in silence, eating noodles, making hand gestures, and sharing photographs with my Chinese host mother, are my most precious. Every work project provides an opportunity to gain a glimpse of the authentic struggles and joys that people face on a daily basis.Thinking Beyond Borders enables students to gain a comprehensive outlook on the world and a new perspective, that will undoubtedly shape their college life and beyond. Every belief I had prior to the experience was shaken and reaffirmed, making me a stronger, more informed, agent for change. Thinking Beyond Borders has been one of the most challenging and best experiences of my life.

I am now a student at Dartmouth College and feel that I would not have been as intellectually motivated or emotionally capable to be as successful as I have been, without my TBB experience.

Yes, I recommend
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Best investment I could have made.

Thinking Beyond Borders changed the trajectory of my life. This is not an easy trip. This is not a vacation. This is an investment in your future and a journey of incredible personal growth. If you are looking to challenge yourself, broaden your perspectives, and meet some incredible people in some incredible places- this program may be for you.

Yes, I recommend
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Best Year of my Life

I was unsure about Thinking Beyond Borders when I began the trip (I did the full 8 month program) as it was quite the undertaking for me just graduating from high school. I now look back at it as the best, hardest, and most fulfilling year of my life. It had its set of challenges (language, separation from family, etc) but since you travel with the same group the whole time you develop a connection to the others.They become your family that helps you through anything you need. I believe I learned more in that year alone about myself and the world than I learned in two years at UNC(colorado).

Yes, I recommend
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Epic Experience

If you are looking for an experience that will shake you to your core and leave you with a fresh perspective on just about everything, Thinking Beyond Borders is the right gap year for you. TBB isn't the euro trip where your time is spent in museums and clubs. It isn't for the faint of heart, and it isn't for anyone who isn't willing to rise to a challenge.

Taking a gap year with TBB will reshape your view of yourself, the world, and of the core assumptions you've always been taught to be true. By matching rigorous (not mandatory) curriculum and discussion with every day experience, there is no way to avoid some serious critical thinking. The day to day "ordinary" experiences of this trip will teach you more about yourself and the human experience than any year sitting in a college classroom, trust me.

TBB is a difficult trip. It is long, exhausting, and it would be impossible for any group of leaders to offer 100% of the support any floundering eighteen year old needs while facing the harshest and most abject poverty they've ever witnessed. If you need to be coddled and given lots of individual attention, you won't like this trip very much. If you can get through the tough stuff, you will experience an extraordinary amount of personal growth, inspiration, and learning.

I would recommend taking a gap year with Thinking Beyond Borders for any individual that is willing to take on a life changing challenge. There will not be one boring day the entire length of the trip. Excitement, adventure, challenge: Thinking Beyond Borders.

How can this program be improved?

The year I went there was a lot of problems with the technology rules that caused tension and conflict. I think these should possibly be re-examined as they caused tension and conflict, not because they are bad rules.

Yes, I recommend
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An Investment of a Lifetime

Thinking Beyond Borders was exactly the kind of program that I was looking for after high school. Each day consisted of a combination of working with the community that we were staying in, having seminars where we discussed an international issue that tied into the work we were doing in the community, and developing media projects that explain a certain aspect of that international issue and its importance. No matter what I was doing, I was always learning. I was exposed to cultures far different from my own, and I bonded with people within my group from other parts of the country as well as abroad. My assumptions about the world drastically changed. I came into the program believing that I have a minimal impact on the world and that it would be hopeless for me to institute any noticeable change. Now, I see myself as a "proactive agent of change", which is the purpose of Thinking Beyond Borders. I now see that my actions do have an impact on the world, whether it be large or small.
I was put outside my comfort zone numerous times, often feeling as if I was a lone foreigner in a huge country whose customs are vastly different from my own, but as I look back on my experience, I realize that I grew the most from living in the countries that I had the most struggles dealing with.
I highly recommend this program for post high school graduates who want a change of pace to see the world and understand it better. The program has even affected my experience in college, for I am more active and interested in my classes than I would have been had I not taken a gap year and done this program.

Yes, I recommend
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Thinking Beyond Borders

Thinking Beyond Borders (TBB) was an excellent experience and was one of the best experiences I've had. One of the best parts of TBB was getting to live with home stay families because it really allows you to understand the daily life of the people from the culture. It also challenges your thoughts on your own culture and on what is normal. TBB also taught me a lot about development and the complications of a global society. While learning a lot and challenging your assumptions, you also get to have a once in a lifetime experience. Traveling to incredibly awesome places and seeing things that you would never be able to see at your home town. TBB was a great experience, and I would highly recommend it to anyone!

Yes, I recommend
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TBB Changes Lives

Thinking Beyond Borders was one of the most powerful experiences I've encountered in my life. There hasn't been a moment since I've returned back to the United States that I have regretted my decision to take a global gap year with TBB.

While on TBB, I was challenged immensely to question the "norms" I had accepted in my daily life as an American. Before going on the trip, I expected to experience cultural disconnects with the communities we visited; however I was not expecting to learn so much more about the diversity and differences that we, the students, had by simply coming from all across the country.

On a daily basis, we experienced the extraordinary. I learned Spanish, how to farm, how to teach, how to learn, how to question my own assumptions, how to value diversity... Ultimately, I learned how I want to live my life--it has influenced who I am today, what my area of study is in college, and the organizations I have chosen to pursue back in the United States. TBB changed everything for me.

If you have the opportunity to participate in Thinking Beyond Borders, without a doubt, do it. The trip itself is rigorous and challenging; the growth one experiences is immense. TBB is in no way easy. However the rewards are vast and endless. Thinking Beyond Borders is one of the BEST investments you can make in your life! DO IT!

How can this program be improved?

While I was a participant, I thought that the mentor-mentee (Program Leader-Student) relationships and dynamics could be improved. No doubt the PLs go through immense training; but I think that there is definite room for growth in selecting PLs and how to equip them with potential group issues.

Response from Thinking Beyond Borders

Since his Global Gap Year, Ben has served as an exceptional leader on his college campus. He's worked tirelessly with other students to engage with his local community in Georgia to support young children in their education and growth.

Ben's feedback regarding our mentor program -- along with the feedback from other TBB students and Program Leaders -- led to significant changes in our approach to mentoring. We pride ourselves on being a team and organization that is constantly learning and improving.

Yes, I recommend
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Life-changing experience!

The day to day experience on Thinking Beyond Borders' Global Gap year varies depended on which country/unit we were in. However, whether it was planting trees in Ecuador or visiting patients in South Africa, there was always something to learn and gain from each day. I learned patience and flexibility, humility and compassion. I learned to live simply, to be grateful, to make my life full, and to love people. And even when I was exhausted, homesick, or just feeling miserable, I still gained so much from my experience on TBB. I am still learning from my time traveling--when I hear about China, Cambodia, India, or other countries we visited, I am immediately flooded with memories. Even the less exciting memories have a certain sweetness to them. Because during my time on TBB, I had the opportunity to be introspective while seeing the world around me. I was able to consider my values, motivations, passions; simultaneously because of the travel we did, I was forced to see the vastness of the human experience.
TBB changed my life completely! I am a better person for having this experience, and it continues to have an impact on me. Reflecting on my travels with TBB constantly grounds me and reminds me of who I am. It is absolutely worth it!

How can this program be improved?

The program has changed a bit since I went on it, and I believe they've fixed the curricular/travel aspects that I wasn't too keen on. The great thing about TBB is when something doesn't work well, they assess the problem and do what they can to adjust or fix it!

Yes, I recommend

About Thinking Beyond Borders

A gap year is your time to get outside of the classroom and learn in the real world. It’s a time to find the direction you need to make college meaningful. Take a gap year with purpose. Go beyond just travel or service. Our global community faces...