Hands-on Learning Gap Year Programs

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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.

Photo credit: Todd Diemer.

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

Programs

Displaying 1 - 15 of 162
United States of America
Rustic Pathways
A gap year is not a one-kind-fits-all experience. That's why Rustic Pathways offers four unique types of gap semesters,...
Ghana
Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad has designed an innovative gap year program designed for high school students taking a year off before...
Bahamas
GapForce
Gain valuable experience in the field of Marine Conservation, either as a way into the industry or as a platform for further...
United States of America
Thinking Beyond Borders
A gap year should be more than just travel or service. This unparalleled adventure is TBB's signature program. You'll live,...
China
China Internship Placements LLC
Get groomed and mentored to discover the world, reflect on your personal ambitions, values, and prepare to take the next step...
Costa Rica
GapForce
This new journey begins in the deep and dense Costa Rica rainforest with a bushcraft and rafting adventure, before joining a...
Costa Rica
Thinking Beyond Borders
Our gap year programs are exciting, supportive, and transformational. By combining daily language classes, homestays, working...
New Zealand
Smaller Earth
Work at one of the top ski mountains that New Zealand has to offer during an epic summer or winter work season and claim the...
Nicaragua
Amigos de las Americas
The AMIGOS Gap Year or Semester provides community development internships in Nicaragua. The program provides an opportunity...
Australia
Welcome To Travel
Welcome To Travel: Melbourne is Australia's most unique, diverse and most of all FUN arrival package. It couldn't be a better...
Costa Rica
GapForce
Join our world-leading 12-week, Costa Rica based, Expedition Dive Instructor Training. Become an internationally approved...
Thailand
Thinking Beyond Borders
A gap year should be more than just travel or service. Our gap year programs are exciting, supportive, and transformational....
Rwanda
Kivu Gap Year
Benefits: + 900 hours of internship experience + 150 hours of reflective leadership training + 9 hours of general college...
Costa Rica
Outward Bound Costa Rica
Develop leadership skills as you delve into field of outdoor education through both technical and soft-skill training on our...
South Africa
iALA Events
The iALA vision is to develop leadership via the medium of adventure for young adults. The importance of emotional...