Do a Gap Year - Become an au pair!

Au pairing gives young people all the benefits of the newly popular Gap Year – and is basically self-financing, too!

Two girls looking out to sea with arms outstretched as the sun goes down
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"Gap year" is a term used to describe what happens when a young person decides to take time off from school or university and pursue other experiences, adventures and learning opportunities. The "gap" is between one segment of traditional education and the next.

But the idea is not just to take time off and go on a long vacation. Much more it is to broaden one's experience by doing something that lets one learn in new, different and exciting ways. The basic Gap Year inspiration is to use one's youth and flexibility to gain experience of something other than just the inside of a classroom. 

Gap year benefits

More and more young people are discovering that this approach can deliver a stunning mix of benefits: 

  • Learning a new language
  • Finding out about the world
  • Becoming more confident and independent
  • Discovering one's true interests

All this and more can happen in the life of a young person during a typical Gap Year. Our new Gap Year video gives a feeling of what is possible:  

Benefits like these are powering a steady expansion of the Gap Year approach to learning. Many education institutions actively encourage their students to take time off and gain other types of experience. President Obama's daughter (as one high profile example) has taken a Gap Year after finishing high school and before continuing her studies at Harvard University.

Gap year beginnings

The Gap Year idea first gained traction in the 1960s and 70s in the United Kingdom. At this time, adventurous gappers were often travelling over land through Eastern Europe and the Middle East to destinations in Asia, particularly India and Nepal. 

At the same time, other young people (many of them young women) were also discovering innovative ways to gain international experience. Rather than setting out for Asia by bus, they looked for destinations in Europe. With the help of agencies, they made contact with foreign families looking for help with childcare and in this way they were able to expand their global horizons. Typically  learning the language of the host country was one of the central goals of these young people. They were, of course, the pioneering au pairs.
 

Au pairing: The Gap Year that pays for itself

Today, there are Gap Year programmes that provide elaborate and often quite exotic experiences for young people. These can come with price tags of more than 10,000 EUR for just a few months in a foreign country. 

The au pair option on the other hand is basically self-financing. As air fares have gone down and Internet platforms such as AuPairWorld have given young people an effective way to contact host families without having to pay expensive agency fees, young people can set off on a Gap Year and finance the adventure out of their own pocket.

At the same time, these adventurous young people are getting the benefits that are making Gap Years more and more popular throughout the world. They're finding out that the world has a lot to teach them and that they can learn many of the best lessons on their own!
 

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