During my final year at school, I had everyone asking what Universities I wanted to go to, what I wanted to be when I grew up and what the next step was in the life of Jess after finishing my A-levels. I couldn’t stand the idea of going back in education for another three years, so I took the summer off, got a job and then started thinking about where I wanted to go as I knew I wanted to travel.
I started a retail job close to where I lived and I worked there for 8 months over winter and Spring, including the hectic Christmas period! If anyone has worked retail during this time, you know what I mean, and I congratulate you for getting through it too, it is something else, it makes Black Friday look like a normal day!
Anyways, after being at this job till May of 2017, I had finally chosen a travel destination. Thailand and Bali were going to be my first solo adventure.
So, after being in these two countries for a month, I came back and a few weeks later flew to Portugal with some of my friends from home. It was the best seven days, ranging from just chilling in our Airbnb getting drunk off Sangria, dancing around the flat and almost breaking the bed, to exploring the city and making lasting friendships of whom I still talk to on a regular basis.
After Portugal, my family and I decided to go to Greece, which was somewhere I had never been, as my goal for the summer was to go to as many new places as I could. It was so beautiful there and relaxing, and I can’t wait to go back at some point. I then started again, got another job, worked there for four months and then I was on a flight to Auckland, New Zealand, to start my 4-month backpacking trip around NZ, Australia and Fiji (all of which I mentioned in my ‘Life Update‘ post). I am going to carry on in my little mini-series ‘Solo Girl Travelling’ and talk about all the little tips and tricks I have picked up whilst travelling by myself, so stay tuned for more of those types of posts.
But enough of where I’ve been, how did it change me, and why would I recommend everyone to do it. Well, first and foremost, it gave me time, time to think, decide the next step, but also enjoy life and the fact that I had just come out of being in education for the last 14 years of my life. I met so many amazing people during my time abroad, people I would never have met if I had gone to University or started a full-time job straight away.
Travelling for a combined amount of time of 5-6 months by myself helped me to grow as a person, mature and really get the chance to be independent. It meant I was thrown into situations in which I had to think on my feet. Such as accidentally forgetting when my flight was to Bali and still having an extra day in Thailand, of which I had no idea where I would be sleeping that evening. These kinds of experiences taught me that you can’t always plan everything, although you can plan an awful lot, these spontaneous moments are what have shaped me into the person I am today. It also made me decide that I did want to go to University, and get a degree, so that brings us up to today, talking to you from my uni room. If I hadn’t taken two years out, I would not have been able to put down all the work experience I had done, or where I had travelled too, all of which made me start blogging, so hating the idea of going to University is why we’re all here reading this now … talk about full circle!
I’d love to know if any of you guys took a gap year or whether you wish you had taken one, leave a comment below, I’d love to read them.