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 46 - 60 of 289 programs
The Eco-Institute at Pickards Mountain
Permaculture, Sustainability & Activism Semester in the USA
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Pacific Discovery
Pacific Discovery | Ecuador & Galapagos Summer Program
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Edu-Pal China
Mandarin and Cultural Exchange Program in China (Up to CNY8,000 scholarship and Airfare)
China
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Interested in Chinese language and culture? Want to learn Mandarin and...

The High Desert Center
The High Desert Center Gap Year
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Our Gap Year Programs are designed for people who want to have fun in...

Outward Bound
The Best Way to Become an Outdoor Educator—Learn from the Best!
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7 reviews2 interviews

It takes a special kind of person to become an outdoor educator. They...

Gap at Glen Brook
Gap Semester in New Hampshire. Farm, Nature Connection, Community Living
United States of America
12 reviews3 interviews

Authenticity. Dignity. Wonder. Discover What's Yours. Gap at Glen...

Where There Be Dragons
South America: Andes & Amazon Gap Year Semester
Multiple Countries
6 reviews2 interviews

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

Verto Education
Multi-Country Verto Education First Semester Abroad
Multiple Countries
13 reviews

Verto was designed to give you the gap year experience while earning...

Where There Be Dragons
West Africa: Rhythms of Senegal Gap Year Semester
Senegal
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From agricultural villages to mangrove islands, explore contemporary...

Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | Spain & Morocco Semester: Human Migration & Language Study
Multiple Countries
5 reviews2 interviews

Learn about Human Migration, and immerse yourself in Spanish & Arabic...

Cow House Studios
FieldWorks: Enrichment Arts Gap Year Program in Ireland
Ireland
9 reviews

Students ages 18 to 22 have an opportunity to make new artistic works...

Pure Exploration
Adventure Guide Program - New Zealand
New Zealand
10 reviews2 interviews

Head to New Zealand for 12 weeks of adventure travel to rival any...

Africa & Asia Venture (AV)
Adventure Travel and Volunteering on the Amazing Kenya Coast
Kenya
21 reviews3 interviews

If you like the idea of living beside the Indian Ocean near Mombasa...

Carpe Diem Education
Latitudes Gap Year: Group Semester & Focused Volunteer Placement
Multiple Countries
4 reviews1 interview

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

Global Citizen Year
Global Citizen Year - Gap Year Program India
India
5 reviews2 interviews

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

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