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 61 - 75 of 289 programs
InterExchange
Sustainable Action Costa Rica
Costa Rica
4 reviews

Quick facts Eligibility: U.S. citizens 18+ Program Fee: $2,195 Dates...

CIEE Global Navigator
CIEE Gap Year Abroad in Paris, France – Language & Culture
France
2 reviews2 interviews

There’s a reason tens of thousands of students flock here to study...

Alliance Abroad
Alliance Abroad | GapYear Programs in Australia
Australia
58 reviews2 interviews

Your GapYear should be more than just a "break from reality". Your...

CIEE Global Navigator
CIEE Gap Year Abroad in Seville, Spain – Language & Culture
Spain
4 reviews1 interview

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

Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad Global Gap Year Program
Multiple Countries
2 reviews

Projects Abroad has designed an innovative gap year program designed...

African Impact
Gap Year and Volunteer Programs with African Impact
Multiple Countries
2 reviews

Taking a gap year after high school, university, or from your career...

Africa & Asia Venture (AV)
Make a Difference with Volunteering and Adventure Travel in Uganda - Gap Year
Uganda
18 reviews3 interviews

Go on Safari, climb Mount Kilimanjaro, bungee jump over the Nile river...

The High Desert Center
Affordable Community Adventure Gap Year with High Desert Center
Multiple Countries
4 reviews2 interviews

For the adventurous soul, who's craving something out of the box, who...

ARCC Programs
ARCC Gap: Pacific Islands - Fiji, Sumatra & Bali
Indonesia
3 reviews

Travel to and immerse yourself in the island lifestyles of Sumatra...

Global Citizen Year
Global Citizen Year - Gap Year Program Brazil
Brazil
7 reviews1 interview

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

Outward Bound
Earn College Credit & Explore Incredible Locations in the U.S.
United States of America
4 reviews1 interview

The Outward Bound Semester & Gap year program won the Top Gap Year...

ARCC Programs
ARCC Gap: Centro-Caribbean - Cuba, Panama, Costa Rica & Belize
Multiple Countries
4 reviews1 interview

ARCC’s Centro-Caribbean Spring Gap Program explores some of the most...

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

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

Naropa University|LeapYear
LeapYear India: Naropa University's Gap Year
Multiple Countries
11 reviews

This program offers an extraordinary alternative year of college...

Kol Ami
Kol Ami Mechina Leadership Gap Year in Israel
Israel
35 reviews1 interview

Kol Ami is a life changing leadership program operated by the Jewish...

What People Are Saying

Walking through Florentin, Tel Aviv

Signing up for Aardvark Israel was honestly one of the best decisions of my life. While the program wasn't perfect, the amount of personal growth I experienced throughout my short time in Israel was...

High-Speed Train

I'm so amazed by China!!! I love the food, culture, and people in here! One of my best friends is a Chinese descendant, which makes me very eager to come. The program is a mix of all the things I like...

One of the events I enjoyed the most

Things are very unusual recently. The pandemic has made our plan a lot more complicated than we expected. I was matched up with a lovely family in January. The 6-year old is so active and smart. I...

Related Gap Year Articles