Do you want a gap year where you learn practical skills? Or get a chance to learn first-hand how to do something new? Whether it's cooking classes or scuba diving certification, a hands-on learning gap year might be the type of program you're searching for.

A hands-on learning gap year or semester is one that's designed to teach gappers a new skill by doing it. Typically, hands-on learning gap year programs will focus on practical skills such as scuba diving, cooking, massage, or wilderness training. Unlike a traditional education, these programs aim to learn outside of the classroom -- often in a corner of the globe that's well known for the skill gappers are learning.

Europe

From fashion design to culinary arts; architecture to historical restoration; Europe has a diverse set of skills that gappers can learn.

Asia

Learn how to scuba dive or give a Thai massage in Thailand; learn meditation and yoga, or how to create a Bollywood film in India; take a cooking class in the Philippines or China. Whatever you do, Asia is rich in hands-on learning options.

South and Central America

South and Central America, especially Costa Rica, have quite a few destinations for scuba diving certifications. You can also learn Spanish (obviously) or about environmental conservation.

Africa

Head to one of Africa's 52 countries and learn more about dance, music, environmental conservation, or photography.

What Can You Do?

What are the possibilities are for hands-on learning? Everything. You can become an expert in Thai cuisine, become certified in scuba diving, learn how to build a shelter and survive in the wilderness, become a yoga master, participate in animal and marine life conservation, become a documentary filmmaker or a writer, and any other possible skill that you can dream up.

Visa

Visa regulations vary widely by country, but generally if your visit is under a certain amount of days a visa won't be required. That differs greatly depending on the country, as does the process and difficulty level in obtaining a visa.

Housing

The type of housing you'll be staying in varies by program. If your gap year is focused on teaching wilderness survival skills, it is likely you'll be camping. If you're learning a language, you'll likely be placed with a host family (or at least given the option).

General Tips

Packing: You may have heard it already, many times probably, but pack lightly and sensibly. Think about where you're going, what kind of natural environment is it? What skills will you be learning? For instance, if you're going to be farming, leave the high heels and your expensive clothes at home.

Be respectful: Make sure to understand and be mindful of the laws and customs of the country where you are learning new skills. You want to portray yourself and your own culture in a positive light and you definitely want to stay out of trouble.

Safety first: Whether you're dealing with the wild animals of Africa, climbing a mountain, or scuba diving, chances are there will be rules put in place. These are for your own safety as well as the safety of those around you, so be smart with your decision making.

Contributed by Rachel Westmore

Hands-on Learning Gap Year Programs

Displaying 256 - 270 of 309 programs
Where There Be Dragons
Morocco: Ancient Cities to the Atlas Mountains Gap Year Semester
Morocco

Within and beyond the city walls we explore incredible sites, tastes...

Kroka Expeditions
Winter Semester Abroad in Northern Canada
Canada

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Where There Be Dragons
Bhutan: Environmental Sustainability & Community Happiness Gap Year Semester
Bhutan

Cloistered amidst the dramatic backdrop of the Himalayas, Bhutan has...

Wanderlust Exchange
Surprise Host Family Program in China
China

Surprise Host Family Program – Are you ready for the surprise of your...

Give and Surf
Culturally Immersive Gap Year Semester in Panama
Panama

Spend three months immersed in the local culture of Bocas del Toro...

Pangaea Abroad
Pangaea Innovators Summer Program in Brazil
Brazil

Travel to Brazil on our 14 days Pangaea Innovators Summer Program...

Rosemary Dream
Personal Development Program in Brazil
Brazil

The Heart Attack Program is the next wave of program. A carefully...

Masa Israel Journey
Gap Year Programs in Israel
Israel

Intrigued by the opportunity to spend a semester or year experiencing...

Artists on the Move
Painting, Drawing, and Printmaking Workshops in Greece
Greece

Drawing and painting workshops are held for seven days on the island...

Pacia Life Portugal
International Cultural Immersion GAP Program
Multiple Countries

As part of what Pacia Life describes as Track 5 or the Personal Growth...

Jobiie
Live a Unique Camp Experience with a Job at Camp Spain
Spain

WELCOME TO CAMP SPAIN! There's nothing else like to spend a summer in...

United Planet
Gap Year: 6-month + Service Learning Opportunities Abroad in Iceland with United Planet
Iceland

Join United Planet on a gap year volunteer Quest in Iceland! Volunteer...

Proyecto Peru Centre
Gap semester in Peru!
Peru

Proyecto Peru Internships in Cusco offers great learning possibilities...

What People Are Saying

I always wanted to travel to China and see the culture from inside so this program was like a golden ticket to me. Of course I felt a little bit uneasy moving 7000 km away but the agency did its best...

My baby

Before I started this program I had no clue who I was and what I wanted to do with my life. This program helped me discover my values, and helped me gain the confidence to follow my own path in life...

Top of the rock

There is no way I can adequately describe this program in 500 words, however, I will try my best. Before this program, I was broken, lost and torn apart by the idea of living my life for others. This...

Went hiking in Argentina for my travel period of the program.

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