5 Great Gap Year Countries to Visit Before College

By: Casey Markee

Are you ready for college? Some people aren't. When making life decisions it is good to take some time, look over all the options, and go where your heart takes you. Some students choose after high school to take a "gap year," or a year to figure out what they want to do in life.

There are many countries out there with varied experiences to challenge these students who may not know yet what they want do with their lives. Here are some interesting international options for the undecided student:

1. India: India has a great need for volunteers in the community, to help the underprivileged children and adults of their country with education, community service and conservation. No formal experience is necessary, just a willingness and enthusiasm to help. Programs range from helping children in orphanages, teaching adults about nutrition and disease, restoration and rebuilding of churches and school, to working with animal rescue programs.

2. Rennes, France: If art, architecture, music, and Celtic history interest you, then head to Rennes, France. Located at the junction of the Ille and Vilaine rivers, Rennes is known for its cultural attractions as well as its thriving technological research centers. Volunteers are needed to teach English in primary, middle, or secondary schools, and while doing so you can learn the local language yourself.

3. Argentina: Head on down south to brush up on your Spanish and help a country in need at the same time. If helping the local community interests you, then Argentina has plenty of volunteer programs for you to choose from, including; healthcare, teaching English as a second language, youth outreach programs,and leading nature expeditions. Learn a language in-country and help your fellow neighbor at the same time.

4. Australia: If the fun of nature is something you enjoy, then Australia has plenty of opportunities for spending a gap year "down under." Choose from planting trees, working on endangered species protection programs, or working on habitat restoration to help improve the natural elements of the great outback. Volunteer programs are available now in the cities of Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Perth and Melbourne.

5. China: Asian culture is full of history and art, from the many family dynasties to the vast array of art forms, thus making China a wonderful adventure. If you are looking for a demanding gap year program then maybe you would like to try learning Mandarin Chinese or one of the many Chinese martial arts. If film is your thing, try taking a historical survey of the major genres of Chinese film history and how they relate to the social, political and cultural development of this vast country.

Taking time out of your current path in life to explore something new is an emerging idea for the Western World, but it doesn't have to be a difficult one.

There are many companies that can help you arrange your gap year programs. Check for stability of the company, look for references on their website, and be sure to determine the exchange rate of the country that you will be going to. Most companies will help with all the planning you will need for your gap year, so with a little work and the right motivation your year away can be rewarding and fun. Start planning today!

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