Study and volunteer abroad in your gap year


A gap year is the ideal opportunity to gain some experience of the working world, whatever you plan on doing as a career in the future. Whether you have a passion for teaching, helping and caring for people, or assisting with animals, there are many opportunities available.

Deciding what to do in your gap year.

Many people choose to take time off from work or studies to experience life in another culture. You can choose to do a great many things with your time abroad, from travelling and exploration to gaining work experience in your chosen field. But if you are looking for an opportunity to get involved with local communities, have the experience of a lifetime and help people or the environment while you are there, you might choose to volunteer abroad during your gap year.

Volunteering doesn’t just give you the excitement of travelling to unknown destinations; it also provides the peace of mind that you are doing something worthwhile and important with your time away. You can choose to help those less fortunate than yourself, or do your bit to protect some of the world’s most spectacular environments and endangered species, all the while making a real impact on some of the world’s poorest places.

The benefits of volunteering abroad.

If you are looking from time out from the hum-drum of normal life but want to gain something worthwhile while you are abroad, volunteering is an excellent way to add experience to your CV to really show your skills off to potential future employers.

Having done animal volunteer work abroad shows dedication for students training to become veterinarians or for people looking for a way into working in the conservation industries. This sort of experience gives you a taste of the sort of career you could have in the future and allows you to discover your true passion.

As an environmental volunteer you can opt to work anywhere from South Africa to Peru, with animals as diverse and awe inspiring as lions, monkeys, kangaroos and more. Make your choice based on the programmes on offer in that particular country and the experience you are likely to gain.

Studying and working abroad

Working in schools abroad is the ideal option for anyone considering a career in teaching or childcare, as it gives you a chance to hone your skills in a challenging environment. You can choose to work anywhere from Cambodian orphanages to caring for disabled children in Vietnam; placements that will provide a new outlook on the quality of life in some of the world’s most deprived countries.

You will have to use your creativity and initiative in these situations, but the benefits are endlessly rewarding. By giving just a small portion of the knowledge you possess to these children, you will help them learn and grow academically, giving them the skills to live life to the full.

You may decide to combine working in a school with furthering your own studies. Educational institutions in different countries are highly supportive of volunteers. For example, medical students and workers can benefit from volunteering abroad in hospitals and clinics, making a real difference to the lives of people in other countries, whilst dividing their time with on-going study in order to further their own academic careers.

Whatever you choose to do with your gap year, you will find a volunteer programme very rewarding, while providing you with another dimension of skills and experience to use in your everyday life.


Shannen Doherty writes regularly on volunteering abroad for a range of gap year travel websites and blogs. She has chosen to volunteer abroad in many countries around the globe. She boasts particular expertise in animal volunteer work abroad, having travelled to Africa, South America and beyond to assist in these programmes.