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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 41 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

17 reviews
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Samara Beach
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

9 reviews
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Queenstown
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

1 reviews
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Malaysia
Fuze Ecoteer Outdoor Adventures

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

18 reviews
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Cape Town
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

0 reviews
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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

3 reviews
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Venice
Winterline Global Education

Try it all. You'll be in a new place every week, learning a new skill. You will produce a documentary film. Launch a business

8 reviews
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Panama City
Kalu Yala

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

21 reviews
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Nepal
Where There Be Dragons

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

5 reviews
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Kunming
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.

2 reviews
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Rwanda
Kivu Gap Year

Benefits:

+ 900 hours of internship experience
+ 150 hours of reflective leadership training
+ 9 hours of general college cre

27 reviews
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San Francisco
UnCollege

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

4 reviews
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Dublin
Dublin Cookery School

Want to spend your winters on the slopes, your summers on a yacht and be in demand anywhere your adventures may take you? Th

0 reviews
Europe
American College of Thessaloniki

This program is ideal for recent high school graduates who need a change of pace, a change of scenery, new motivations and ho

0 reviews
Malaysia
Raleigh International

Would you like the chance to live in the Malaysian cloudforest? On a Raleigh expedition, you'll travel to remote, untouched p

5 reviews
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