The best thing about embarking on a summer gap year program is that you can do it as an in-between. In between high school and college, in between university and getting a graduate job, or even just in between junior and senior year. With so many options, why not take the opportunity to explore overseas?
Summer gap year programs give you the chance to learn new skills or refresh old ones, take time out to discover new places, or even gain some valuable working-world experience. Whether it's learning valuable business skills in frenetic New York City, getting back to nature and volunteering in Thailand, or studying among the cobbled streets of a European capital, there are plenty of adventures awaiting if you choose to do a summer program abroad.
The best thing is, you'll also give your resume and college application a boost, while still having a great time in an exciting new place. And you'll no doubt meet new people and get to see and do things you never would at home.
Where to Go
Of course, there are hundreds of possible destinations for a gap year program during the summer months. Most of Europe and the rest of the northern hemisphere experiences their peak weather during the months of June to September, so it's certainly an appealing time to go. Here are some options you may want to think about.
La Belle France is at its absolute peak in the summertime when holidaymakers flock to bask along its coasts and sample the fruits of its wineries. France is an excellent location for a summer program, whether you're learning the language or delving into art and history.
There's also a diverse range of scenery, from pristine Alpine peaks perfect for hiking, to the beaches of the coastal region, or the lush valleys of Provence. Then again, you might just find yourself relentlessly drawn back to the shaded boulevards of the City of Love: Paris.
Tapas, siestas, and sangria: that's the essence of a summer in Spain. There could hardly be anything more luxurious than immersing yourself in the laid-back Spanish lifestyle. Lengthy meal times, late dinners, and even later nights out define Spanish culture, and you could be absorbing all of this while still learning one of the most widely spoken languages in the world or gaining real-world experience through an internship.
Summer is certainly the best time of year to visit the UK -- as summertime is when you stand the best chance of not being rained on. Picnics in the park and pints in pub beer gardens characterize a quintessentially British summer, and it's just as lovely as it sounds.
The options here are broad-ranging: you might spend time developing your acting skills in Shakespeare's own country, or perhaps build your CV through one of many innovative internships on offer. And there's more to the UK than just London -- there's the liberal charm of Brighton and the historic atmosphere of Edinburgh to think about, among many others.
For those not native to the US, the land of the free holds a global appeal whether to study in one of its quintessential university towns or to experience big city life in a large metropolitan hub -- or even to explore its vast expanses of spectacular scenery on a cross-country road trip.
Summer is a great time to discover America at its peak, and the best thing is the sheer range of different options available, like coding, engineering, business, or fashion.
Planning Your Trip
Summer gap year programs do require some advanced planning -- after all, this is the high season for a lot of the most popular places in the world! Luckily, we've got you covered. Whether you plan to study, work, or travel (or a bit of all three), your summer is sorted if you follow these guidelines.
How to Plan a Gap Year in Summer
There are a few questions to ask yourself when planning your summer gap year:
- What type of program do you want to take part in? Internship, study abroad, or something else?
- Do you want to learn a new language?
- What kind of travel opportunities do you want from the trip, if any?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can start to narrow down your options. Internships are likely to be easier and more fruitful if undertaken in a country where you speak the language. For language learning, which course you'll choose depends on which language you'd like to study and where's the best country to learn that language.
Popular Summer Gap Year Activies
As for travel, you have a lot to choose from: Touring temples or cathedrals, giving back to the community, finding new ways to learn, and much. more. You can only decide on a destination after you've examined what you really desire from your trip.
if you have your mind set on your career after college, then gaining some work experience is essential. You can differentiate yourself by gaining a placement during your time in college, and taking it abroad will make your resume even more impressive.
If you're looking for an exceptional way to set your summer apart, consider an adventure travel program. Adventure travel is an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, make international connections, and partake in sports or activities you have always dreamed of. From surfing to snowboarding to scuba diving, there are adventure travel programs spanning the globe that will provide you with a thrilling summer you will never forget.
Teach Abroad or Be a Camp Counselor
Whether you're teaching English as a second language or at a camp as a counselor, spending a summer giving back through educating others is a wonderful opportunity to find fulfillment (and maybe even a future career).
You could be teaching anything from English to acrobatics, but if sharing knowledge and working with kids is for you then this is a great way to meet awesome friends and get paid enough to tour Europe after the camp ends. The good news just keeps on coming: you usually don't need a TEFL qualification as you will be an informal tutor rather than a teacher, and accommodation and food are all arranged for you by the camp. This is the perfect position if you enjoy working with kids, as the job will require a high degree of patience and may have long hours.
Summer School Abroad
College may be out for the summer, but that doesn't mean the learning has to stop. Travel is all about experiential education, and you can easily combine your journey across the world with a summer school program abroad. Many of the world's top universities, including Cambridge in England and Peking in China, offer international summer schools. You'll usually have plenty of time between classes and on weekends to experience the surrounding area. Consider it an alternative way to study abroad.
Health & Safety
As always, you have to make sure you have the appropriate travel insurance for your summer gap year program. You may have to check with your insurance provider that they cover for working overseas as well as more general activities, even if your work isn't going to be physical in nature.
Another item on the to-do list is checking out which vaccinations you might need for your summer trip. Many destinations in Asia, Central and South America, and Africa will require a trip to the doctors before you go, so make sure to have an appointment at least 6-8 weeks before you plan to travel. It's best to allow plenty of time in case you need to have additional vaccinations.
Finally, it's always good practice to check the equivalent of your country's state department website before you venture to a new country. Even if you don't intend on changing your plans according to the advice, it's good to be aware of the political and social situation in a country before you arrive, so there'll be no surprises.
Other Need to Know
Perhaps it doesn't need to be said, but not all countries experience their peak season in the 'summer' months of July, August, and September. For a lot of places, this might be monsoon season, and some countries in the southern hemisphere have their seasons in reverse -- meaning frosty fingers and woolly hats in August when you might be expecting sunbathing.
It's definitely worth working out the climate of your destination country before you start packing!