Gap Year

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A ‘gap year’ is also commonly called ‘time out’, ‘time off’, a ‘year off’, a ‘year abroad’ or a ‘bridging year’ and refers to a prolonged period of time (not always, though often, a year) travelling and/or working abroad. Typically, it marks a transition between life stages such as in between completing the Leaving Cert and going onto 3rd level education or between finishing your degree and starting your career.

Many third level students also us their summer holidays as a kind of ‘gap year’ and obtain working visas to foreign countries so that they can spend a few months travelling and working in a new place. It is becoming increasingly common among young people in Ireland, almost like a rite of passage and is especially popular with people within the 18-25 age bracket. The ‘gap year’ phenomenon is the fastest growing travel sector with an estimated global gap year market of £11bn by 2010.

More than 8000 Irish students went to the US this year on a student J1 working travel visa. The J1 work and travel programme is available to all third level students in Ireland and gives them access to all 51 states of America and a legal work permit for up to 4 months. It is becoming increasingly popular for third level students to gain such a visa and spend their 4 month summer holidays doing something constructive – getting to grips with a new place and culture while having an unforgettable adventure!

Inter-railing around Europe is another highly popular way for students to spend their summer as it is an affordable and easy way to travel around Europe, take in all the sights, immerse yourself in many different cultures and languages, have fun and still keep to a tight budget.

How people spend their gap year differs enormously from one person to the next – some set out on an around-the-world trip alone or with friends or in an organised travel or tour group, while others go to work or teach English in a foreign country, and others do voluntary work with an organisation or charity that enables them to really make a difference to the lives or environment of others. Gap years can be independently planned or structurally organised – one thing for sure is that with a gap year the world really is your oyster! is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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