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 31 - 45 of 309 programs
Where There Be Dragons
Indonesia: Community, Culture, & Conservation Gap Year Semester
Indonesia
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Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | South America Semester: Spanish Immersion & Conservation
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Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | Spain & Morocco Semester: Human Migration & Language Study
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8.8 •5 reviews

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Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | Southeast Asia Semester: Human Rights & Cultural Exchange
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Study Human Rights and Cultural Exchange with a community of students...

Global Citizen Year
Global Citizen Year - Gap Year Program Ecuador
Ecuador
9.81 •21 reviews

Global Citizen Year is a non-profit social enterprise forging a new...

Carpe Diem Education
Latitudes Gap Year: Group Semester & Focused Volunteer Placement
Multiple Countries
9.75 •4 reviews

Choose one of our 3-month group semesters during the fall (India...

Amigos de las Americas
Amigos de las Americas - Uruguay Gap Year
Uruguay
10 •4 reviews

Accredited by the Gap Year Association, our Gap Program provides...

VACorps
VACorps Gap Year Program in Cape Town
South Africa
9.86 •7 reviews

The VACorps Gap Year Program is a transformative experience that will...

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Global Citizen Year - Gap Year Program Senegal
Senegal
9.53 •17 reviews

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Where There Be Dragons
West Africa: Rhythms of Senegal Gap Year Semester
Senegal
10 •5 reviews

From agricultural villages to mangrove islands, explore contemporary...

Where There Be Dragons
South America: Andes & Amazon Gap Year Semester
Multiple Countries
9.5 •6 reviews

From sparkling glaciers to lush tropical forests, this Gap Year...

Gapforce
Marine Expedition and Dive Instructor Training with Gapforce
Costa Rica
10 •1 review

Kick start your career with our 10-week Marine Expedition & Dive...

CIEE Global Navigator
CIEE Gap Year in Seville, Spain – Spanish Language & Culture
Spain
9.5 •4 reviews

What will you find in Seville? The world’s largest Gothic church. The...

CIEE Global Navigator
CIEE Gap Year in Paris, France – French Language Immersion for Art Lovers
France
10 •2 reviews

Everyone dreams of a trip to Paris, but how many get to actually live...

Go Abroad China
Explore the real China with a Fun Gap Year - Intern, Learn Chinese or Volunteer in China
China
10 •1 review

Are you seeking meaningful activities that you can take on during the...

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