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

Showing 48 Programs

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, rangi...

Europe

GapForce
Follow in the footsteps of past Trekforce Leaders including Bruce Parry and Ed Stafford - learn key Survival, Leadership and...

Costa Rica

Intercultura Costa Rica Spanish Schools
At both campuses, Heredia and Samara Beach, we offer year-round intensive Spanish group classes in small groups (max. 6 stude...

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...

Malaysia

Fuze Ecoteer Outdoor Adventures
Malaysia is blessed with a high biodiversity of wildlife. Unfortunately many of its most emblematic animals are under severe...

China

Aupairia
Are you interested in China and its culture? Would you like to be a cultural ambassador? Aupairia provides you with the oppor...

South Africa

Gap Africa
Have you always wanted to take a GAP but not just to sit on the beach or volunteer. Do you want to make it useful and invest...

United States of America

Gap at Glen Brook
Gap at Glen Brook is a place-based experience for gap semester students on a 250-acre campus in the Monadnock region of New H...

Italy

Winterline Global Education
How much time do you have? What are your interests? Whether you spend a year or a week on a Winterline program, you will visi...

Panama

Kalu Yala
At Kalu Yala, we are in the process of building the world's most sustainable modern village nestled in the Panamanian rainfor...

India

iSPiiCE
Work, Volunteer and travel. Discover something new about yourself! Gap Year in India at iSpiice, offers plenty of Gap year vo...

Nepal

Where There Be Dragons
The Himalayas. Since time immemorial, these colossal peaks with their vast web of rugged, isolated valleys and distinct ethni...

China

Bridging the Gap China
Our 1 month gap year program is ideal for those that are looking to combine some fun-filled traveling with Mandarin tutoring....

Rwanda

Kivu Gap Year
Benefits: + 900 hours of internship experience + 150 hours of reflective leadership training + 9 hours of general college cre...

United States of America

UnCollege
The UnCollege Gap Year Program is a 9-month program designed to equip young adults with the necessary skills to succeed in th...