27 April 2016

What do you think it means to have a 'great' career break? It's different for every grown-up gapper, but here are 8 things that you might not expect to happen on your career break.

1. You'll meet some fascinating people

Yeah, you knew you were going to meet some new people, but you won't realise how amazing they are until you're actually face-to-face with them, somewhere unexpected.

It might be a local who shares the same taste in music as you.

It could be a fellow traveller who you just seem to connect with straight away.

And there's always one person you write off straight away, until one night you get chatting (more by accident than design) and you find out they're really interesting! This is my favourite kind of person to meet - what I call the slow burn. Takes a while to get to know them but it's worth it!

2. You'll feel like an idiot

That doesn't sound like the sort of thing to happen on a "great" career break, does it? But it will, and it's good for you. Everyone needs to feel like an idiot at times, but the best thing is, when you're away from home, surrounded by people who don't really know you, you can manage it better. Instead of going red, you can laugh it off. Instead of getting angry, you can shrug your shoulders.

The best thing is, the people around you will think it's a one-off, and won't stereotype you as a clumsy oaf.

3. You won't know what to do

This is one of the best ways of improving so many life skills.

Once you've tackled a situation that's left you flummoxed, you'll have more confidence, you'll hone your problem-solving skills, and you can write "faces challenges" on your CV (honestly this time!).

And how do we know you'll tackle it? Because you probably won't have any choice. There's no IT guy, no mate to bail you out, not even your mum to come and make you feel better. There might be a friendly local or fellow traveller to give you a hand, but essentially you're going to have to sort it out on your own. And you will.

4. You'll realise how kind the world really is

If I had a pound for every time someone helped me out on my career break, I'd have enough money for another career break.

Most people in the world are truly kind, really helpful and willing to lend a hand. It might be something really small, or it could be something huge (we've had a few stories of life-saving heroics told to us by grateful career breakers!).

This can give you a totally new perspective on the world, and encourage you to be kinder, as well as more hopeful.

5. You'll use a skill you have never needed before

Whether it's being able to strum a few chords on the guitar to get everyone singing during a chilled night at a bar, or fixing something like you're MacGuyver, your career break might throw up an opportunity to be the hero. You might even get a chance to practise some first aid, or rescue someone!

You'll bask in the glow of being useful, and you might even be inspired to learn some more skills!

6. You'll be told the opposite of something you believe (about yourself)

At home, everyone thinks they know what you're like. You might be known as the ditz, the geek, or the one who never gets their round in (In which case, stop reading this and for goodness' sake, get a round in).

Then you'll travel abroad, meet some new people with no preconceptions about you, and they'll see something else in you. Something new, something that no-one else has.

For me, it was being told I was good at sport. I was the classic chubby kid who was always the last to be picked for a team, so when my diving instructor told me I was good, I nearly fell over with shock. (Not a good idea when you're standing next to the sea).

7. Your crapness about something will prove to be useful

Of course, no-one is good at everything, and there's probably some area where you lack talent. That's OK - it might turn out to be actually useful.

For example, if you're not very good at communicating, you might fail to realise that someone's trying to elicit a bribe from you and hooray - you get to go without paying for it, as the corrupt official will just wait for someone easier to deal with.

And the best part is, you don't have to feel rubbish about your "failings" once they turn into a strength.

8. You will become a better version of yourself

This sounds a bit hippyish and flaky, but it's true. Some of your friends and family - or even you - might think you will change beyond recognition after your long and exciting experience abroad.

But you won't, not funamentally. You'll just get better at certain things, build on your strengths and become more confident in your abilities, which means you'll be able to use them more.

With your new perspective on the world, you'll become a better person to know as well. And doesn't that sound fantastic?


If that's got you excited about taking a career break, start your search for your perfect opportunity here.


Image credits: Projects Abroad, Ivan, Tara Hunt, William Murphy, Angela Quitoriano, Cross-cultural Solutions, Collin Anderson and Katia Romanova.