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Gap Year Programs in Europe

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With it’s rich history of emperors with expansive territories, royals fighting for power and the enlightening Renaissance Europe, is a continent that attracts historical lovers, educators, tourist and travelers. As the continent that linked the “new world” to the eastern lands of Asia, Europe has been the land bridge between many cultures.

With so much culture, history, and beautiful landscapes to explore, trekking around Europe for your gap year is a no brainer!

For centuries, Europe has been the region of choice for students and travelers wanting to enrich themselves and do some exploring. Where you travel to Europe is really up to you and your interests! However, having an open mind to try new things and go to locations you did not plan on can become the most awesome experience of your life.

Though English is commonly spoken throughout Europe, it’s always helpful to have a basic understanding of the language of your host country. Many gap year programs include language courses, and participating in these is strongly recommended.

Adventure Travel

Your Gap Year in Europe will be an adventure in and of itself, but there are a few places that you can go to satisfy your more extreme adventure interests. You can find everything from sky-diving, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, sailing, scuba diving and motorbiking.

Popular destinations for adventure travel include the Northern Lights and fjords in Iceland, the Alps and Interlaken in Switzerland, Mont Blanc in France, the islands of Greece and the beautiful landscapes of Spain and Portugal on the Iberian Peninsula.

If you aren’t quite the thrill seeker and all this sounds like too much, feel free to just relax along the shores of the Mediterranean!

Teaching English

Teaching for a semester is a great way to offset your costs while traveling abroad. Some of the popular destinations to teach in Europe include France, Spain and the Czech Republic.

Many companies in France hire ESL teachers to work in teaching business English. With Spain’s beautiful cities and countryside, it is an excellent opportunity to work while learning or improving your Spanish. Madrid is a popular location with it’s rich culture and history. The Czech Republic offers the lovely city of Prague with a lower cost of living compared to Western European countries.

It is generally recommended, if not required, to have a Bachelors degree and TEFL certificate for most teaching positions in European countries. The best thing to do is research the guidelines and requirements for securing a position teaching ESL based on the country you want to go to. Costs of initial set-up will vary and there are many wonderful blogs, forums and websites where you can get more cost-specific examples of ESL teachers already living abroad.

Volunteering in Conservation

For those with a passion for animals and traveling, volunteering with a conservation effort is your ideal match. Tethys Research Institute based in Milan accepts volunteers for helping to collect data on whales during their research. In Greece you can volunteer to help with sea turtle protection. Other available programs may vary based on the landscape and conservation efforts. Some programs have organized trip costs that will include the costs of your food and lodging during the time you volunteer.

If you are planning a Gap Year before you go to college, volunteering while traveling is a great way to continue to build your resume for college applications. If you have already finished college, you can take this time to explore a new field of interest.

Planning a gap year in Europe can seem a bit daunting, but being money savvy and open minded will help your dream become a reality. How much money you need will vary based on your travel destinations, how long you actually spend abroad, and if you are planning on working or not.

Popular Destinations

While on a gap year in Europe, you have quite a few destinations to choose from. Iceland's a great place to start from, before making your way from West to East.

Alternatively, you could spend your gap year in one destination, working as an au pair, WWOOFing on a farm, or learning a new language.

If you plan on traveling throughout your gap year, take a look at our gap year itinerary ideas for Europe.

Expenses

As spontaneous as one might want to be for their trip, doing some planning ahead of time might be wise. Purchasing tickets in advance through airline websites that offer deals is a great place to start. Staying in hostels is cheaper than hotels and offer a more personal experience as you are able to meet other travelers or country natives vacationing in the area. Eat foods from local eateries and street vendors when available as this is cheaper than eating in restaurants.

Never be afraid to stay with friends either! If you have friends or relatives living in another country do not turn down their invitation for a visit. This can lead to introductions to new individuals that can make your trip more memorable.

It is generally recommended to save at least $3,000 after paying for flights, other travel expenses and medical insurance. However, having an extra few thousand on top of this will leave room for any emergencies or extra travel plans added on during your adventure!

The key rule is to make a realistic budget and leave room for some extras. Researching and planning out itineraries for the best deals possible will leave you with more spending cash for daily living. Plan your trip as if you were moving to a new place and try to cover all aspects you can imagine within your budget.

Cost of Living

Cost of living in Europe may be different than your home country. For cheaper areas, check out Poland, Czech Republic and Romania. More expensive countries include England, France, and Switzerland. The biggest expenditures you’ll have are housing, food, and transportation, so be cautious of which places you choose to go.

The cost of living and travel depends on which locations you have targeted. If you want to learn the basics about more cities in Europe with low cost of living, Price of Travel has an updated list of cities with basic costs outlines.

Violent crimes in Europe tend to be lower than the United States, but petty crimes such as pickpocketing may be common in some areas. Keeping your valuables on you at all times and keeping wallets chained to your pants are some preventive measures to take.

Traffic in some countries can be more aggressive in the states and its best to be aware of your surroundings. It’s also worth noting that some countries drive on the opposite side of the ride, so be sure to always look both ways when crossing the street.

Generally, the health standards in Europe are high with a low risk of disease. To be on the safe side, travelers should always make sure they are up to date with common vaccinations as a precaution.

Contributed by Heidi Cruz

Showing 14 Programs

United Kingdom
BUNAC
Think England is all about historic towns, pubs and Shakespeare? We’re pretty proud of all of those but there’s so much more...
0 reviews
Romania
Projects Abroad
Romania, in Eastern Europe, is a unique and wonderful place to complete a volunteer project or internship. The outstanding sc...
14 reviews
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Paris
EF International Language Centers
Travel to France for a semester or a year to explore the City of Lights or the French Riviera. Our interactive immersion cour...
5 reviews
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Santander
Xtreme Gap Year
We made a rap song. YES! WE MADE A RAP SONG. Check out the video below. Spain is a country that can not be missed in your Eur...
0 reviews
United States of America
EA Ski and Snowboard Training
Do you LOVE winter? Want to ski at world famous resorts in picture perfect locations? Then come and do a season in the Northe...
0 reviews
Grenoble
GapForce
Join the Skiforce team for an unforgettable season in the French Alps, the Mecca of European Snowsports, Skiforce is based in...
3 reviews
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Italy
Art History Abroad
This course travels through Italy four times a year, exploring all aspects of culture, such as history, music, politics, food...
42 reviews
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Denmark
United Planet
Join United Planet on a gap year program in Denmark! From 6 months to a year, you can volunteer abroad in Denmark and work wi...
1 reviews
Switzerland
Eurocentres
Study French abroad this year in Lausanne, Switzerland with Eurocentres! Potential students can choose which option is best f...
1 reviews
Salamanca
API
The Spanish Language & Culture Program at the Universidad de Salamanca, offered through API Gap Year, takes recent high schoo...
1 reviews
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Tenerife
Frontier
Tenerife is the largest of the seven stunning Canary Islands, which form this Atlantic Ocean archipelago. From the golden san...
3 reviews
Venice
Art History Abroad
If you are between 17 and 22, AHA's 2-4 weeks courses are a brilliant way to pass some of the summer while doing something wo...
15 reviews
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Venice
Winterline Global Education
Try it all. You'll be in a new place every week, learning a new skill. You will produce a documentary film. Launch a business...
8 reviews
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United Kingdom
BUNAC
Think England is all about historic towns, pubs and Shakespeare? We’re pretty proud of all of those but there’s so much more...
0 reviews