Nick Preddey (Australia 2012)
After the big year of the HSC, I couldn't imagine myself starting university straight away. I admire those who are eager to start their degree, but mine could wait. I promised myself during my final year of school that the next year I needed an escape, a real one. I applied to work at a boarding school in the UK through Tutors Worldwide. I knew that the time between the interview and the verdict took a few months so I decided to forget about it and focus on my studies. However, after one of my grueling exams I received the email I had been waiting for: a chance to work in the UK as a teacher's assistant.
As I left my family at the airport and made my way to the plane, I didn't really understand how big this whole experience would be for me: leaving home at the age of 17 and moving to the other side of the world. At the school, I had to accept the fact that I was a teacher and that I had to lead by example. It was a great feeling when parents came up to you to say that their son or daughter loved having you in their class today and couldn't stop talking about you when they got home. Being on a Gap year, you were also given the opportunity to travel. One thing about us Aussies is that we all get a shock as to just how isolated we are compared to the countries of Europe. In order to see and experience the places I wanted to see, I had to learn to be organized with booking places and to be realistic in terms of how much money I could spend. If you asked me to pick a favourite place in Europe, there wouldn't be one. When going to all these different cultures, my advice is to do as many things in your budget as you can. Don't waste any time sleeping! Whether it be eating snails and baguettes in Paris (I preferred the ham and cheese baguette!) or seeing all the historical sites of Rome when you have just been reading about them in a HSC textbook a few months ago. A few days later I was snorkeling in the Mediterranean and then hiking through the Lochs of Scotland. One of the most exhilarating experiences was paragliding off a mountain in the Austrian Alps. I could have stayed up in the air for hours. Sometimes my travels didn't go as planned, but that's life. It was a good lesson for me and my friends to get ready for the 'real world' and the 'pinch yourself' moments made all the days working at the boarding school worth it.
My Gap year gave me strength, independence and a new outlook on life. I returned refreshed, renewed and ready to make the most of my next few years at university. And let's face it, it also made me appreciate my Mum's cooking even more!!
Anna McRae (Australia 2011)
I could not be happier with my decision to take a Tutors Worldwide Gap year! I spent 12 months working in a boarding school in Cambridge and have gained a wealth of experience both professional and personal.
TWW is an ideal way to organise your Gap year. While you're in your final year of school, organising a memorable Gap year can be daunting but TWW takes the pressure off, allowing you more time to focus on more important things like planning your summer holiday! I arrived into England and was automatically set up in a job and accommodation in a lovely school community. This is not to say your Gap year will be served to you on a silver platter, there are certainly challenges awaiting you but during your final year of school, those challenges can wait until you finish your exams!
A Gappie job is a really prestigious position to have as a school leaver. While you may find yourself doing mundane tasks at times, the majority of the time I found the job to be very varied and a welcome challenge! Working with kids is an invaluable experience, indicating to others that you are a trustworthy and responsible person, an accolade I have benefited from both personally and professionally. When applying for positions at residential colleges and part time jobs, my previous experience as a Gappie was highly regarded. I now live at one of the colleges of an Australian university and work part time as a childcare worker.
I thrived on the challenges presented to me on my Gap year from financial management to personal resilience. I would recommend a TWW Gap year to anyone!
Shauni Carpenter (New Zealand 2011)
In my last year at high school I had no real idea of what I wanted to do after graduating. This was where I got the idea to go on a gap year. Learning about what Tutors Worldwide could offer, I jumped at the chance to apply. I was fortunate enough to be sent to a school near Leicester, working in the PE department, Drama department, coaching every day after school (netball, hockey and athletics) and helping out in the boarding houses. Looking back it really was the most incredible job; I can hardly call it work as everyday was new, exciting and a fun adventure. The opportunities you have while working are countless, school trips around the UK, or even Europe, Duke of Edinburgh, not to mention the friendships you make with staff members. The school was in a small village but it became my home in a very short amount of time and I will be forever grateful for the wonderful experiences and memories it has given me.
Putting work aside, the travel opportunities that you have while on gap year are extraordinary. Three weeks off here (Scotland, France, Amsterdam…CHECK), two weeks off there (Germany, Brighton and Bath….CHECK) and a huge 1-2month summer holiday in between. I made one of the best decisions to this day by booking myself in for 'The Easy Rider, 32day Camping Contiki'- for gap students ONLY. To put it simply…..it was AMAZING. Definitely one of the most hilarious, rowdy, enjoyable, crazy, cultural, eye-opening and remarkable trips I have ever been on. The people I have met remain lifelong friends, the places I have been are exquisite and unique, and although your liver can take a beating….it is all worth it.
The gap year provided the essential life lessons that everyone should learn, it makes you value the ideals of money, learn a higher level of responsibility and mature as an individual. You become the person you want to be; only you can decide what makes you happy. So my advice for future gappies….take all the opportunities you can, live a little…or a lot, and be thankful for every single experience as they will become the greatest memories of all.
Sascha Young (New Zealand 2013)
Nearing the end of 2011, I was in year 12 and faced with the challenge of having to decide the direction in which to take my life. Coming from small town Invercargill, I hadn't had a lot of exposure to the depth and breadth of the professional world, so for me choosing a career path was utterly daunting. I really didn't feel that I was in the right frame of mind to take on university, given that I had no idea of what I wanted in life. I have grown up with a strong desire to travel and knew, at this point in my life, that I needed a change of scenery. When a friend of my parents recommended Tutors Worldwide, I knew I'd found exactly what I needed.
Leaving my family at Christchurch airport was the point at which it all sunk in. I was walking to my gate alone and I was so incredibly nervous and anxious but ultimately ecstatic about this new journey. When I arrived at my school in Somerset, England, everything was so unbelievably different to home, which at first was a little overwhelming. The staff soon eased my anxieties with their immense support, which I will always be incredibly grateful for.
My job was centred mainly around care work and being a supportive figure to the children in the boarding houses. I cannot say that it was easy, not in the slightest, but I hadn't expected that and I knew that the experience could only be what I made of it, and so I made it the best year of my life. The children at the school are among the best people I have ever come across. They were all full of incredible character, each so different to the other but all equally wonderful. A year on, I still catch myself smiling, laughing and talking about their quirky little sayings and how much fun they were to be around. My year wouldn't have been half of what it was without them.
There are many opportunities to travel and in one year, I managed to fit in fourteen countries, not including all of the travel that I managed to do within England alone. Travelling teaches you an awful lot about yourself and for me particularly, it was just how little I really knew about the world and its people. I often found myself overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of the people that I was fortunate enough to meet.
When I hear people speaking about their gap years, I always notice an emphasis on the places they have travelled to, the items they purchased and parties they attended. Don't get me wrong, those parts are fantastic, but I cannot stress enough the importance of making the most of the school that you are placed in. When I look at it retrospectively, the memories of my gap year are full of those made at my Caollege, the travel was a bonus!
If I could give any advice to those looking at taking a gap year with Tutors Worldwide, it would be to keep an open mind, a positive mind, grab every opportunity with both hands, take every challenge head on and you'll have the time of your life!
Sam Phillips (New Zealand 2010)
In my last year at school, I knew I needed a gap before further study; I needed a change of scene. The name 'gap year' is incorrect, being a gappy almost sounds like your pausing your life for 12 months. Nothing could be further from the truth. My gap year let me experience a totally new lifestyle and gave me the opportunity to look at life from a new angle.
I spent 12 months working at a prep school in Dorset, UK with a good number of likeminded 'gappies'. We worked together, helping out in the classroom, on the field and in pastoral care. The British boarding school culture is fascinating; this was an old country mansion that has been converted into a prep school, and is still really traditional. Think C.S. Lewis, but with iPhones. We adopted the role of big brother and sister for kids aged from 7 upwards.
We lived onsite in shared accommodation. Our common room became the focal point for many social occasions. We celebrated birthdays, milestones, and even our favourite days of the week.
The holidays were our chance to travel; having worked for a few months, Europe really became our playground. It's the most amazing freedom, having a whole continent to explore. I bought a rail pass with a few friends and we travelled around France, Spain, Romania, Italy, Crete, Germany, Hungary, Belgium, and Poland.
To this day I remember standing on the steps of Waterloo station as it started to snow; I felt the most incredible freedom. Barely three weeks before I had been re-tidying my room for my parents, and now I was on the other side of the world with my luggage and a train ticket ready to spend a week in London.
Changing things up for 12 months offers you so much. I look at life differently today because of my time away. Travel gives you a frame through which you can appreciate life with a new-found richness. I have made friends for life, both with my fellow gappies and with people in the UK, and I cannot wait to return in a few years and catch up with everyone.
Lucy Cole (New Zealand 2011)
For anyone considering taking a year off to work overseas, I say DO IT. The experience is one you'll never forget, you won't regret it. University will always be there, but how many chances do you get to travel at such a young age, with no responsibilities holding you back? I chose to do a gap placement in England so I could have the security of an organisation, a place to stay (free of charge and free food) and holidays where I could travel. I was placed in a co ed boarding and day school two hours west of London in Gloucestershire. The schools in England are ridiculous in the sense that there are so many holidays; two exeat weekends, a week long break in the middle of each of the 3 terms, and a 2 month summer holiday in the middle of the year. So many travel opportunities which I used the money I earned at the school to pay for. Don't expect to save money on your gap year, if you manage that then you haven't taken up enough of the opportunities available to you.
I was a senior school gappie and spent my days working in the music department, doing mainly admin work, with a few duties also as an assistant teacher in years 7-10 drama classes. At night and for small periods of time throughout the day, I had boarding house duties in a form 4-5 girls boarding house, supervising prep, ensuring the girls went to sleep on time at night, and waking them up in the morning.
The work was average and it was a 6 day a week school (most are in England), but was completely worth it for the travelling. I did a Haggis tour around Scotland and a 32 camping Contiki over summer (without a doubt the best, craziest month of my life).
The memories you create on your gap year are second to none. I highly recommend it. You only have one life, so take up the opportunities whilst they're in your hands.
James Rickard (Australia 2013)
There is a reason why so many people say that their Gap Year was the most exciting year of their life. For most of us it is the first time that we are able to experience and discover the world on our own. I will never forget the first time I arrived at Kings Cross station. It was winter, the night was dark and cold, yet the lights were bright and London beckoned for the first time. Like so many young people, I was enthralled by the diversity and sheer excitement of London, and the night that followed has to be one of the most outstanding memories of my Gap Year. It was not so much the big trips or seeing the world that made this year so special, it was a sense of freedom which I enjoyed with my friends that enabled me to discover the world around me at such a young age.
I spent my Gap year working at a school in East Anglia. There were a number of advantages in spending my year abroad working at a school. Firstly I enjoyed both a steady cash flow and long holidays that I could share with my other friends across the country. It was also really nice to have a base to come home to after the exhausting holidays and weekends spent ravelling around Europe and city hopping around the UK. Furthermore, it was a very interesting experience working with kids - one which I enjoyed, and I now have a new respect for teachers. I would highly recommend taking a Gap Year. You will certainly not regret it and, most importantly, you will make lifelong friends from all over the world!
Amelia T (Australia 2008)
I was 17 when I took the 24-hour flight to London and it was by no means an easy step leaving my family for an entire year. I was anxious, excited and nervous all at once. However, as soon as I got through the gates at Heathrow Airport and was greeted by my fellow gappies, I knew this was going to be an experience no one should ever miss.
I was a Drama Gap Tutor at a school in Suffolk. I believe Tutors Worldwide matched me up perfectly with this School. I had great variety in my position, where I was involved in all aspects of school faculties and "taught" students from years 3 through to 13, however, I was mainly based in the Senior School's theatre where I had the brilliant role of assisting in drama classes/workshops, school productions, preparing costumes and building stage sets. A major plus was being involved in the Combined Cadet Force every Friday afternoon at the senior school. I assisted in the Royal Air Force where we did aerobatics, gliding, paintball shooting, went away on Cadet camps and did a Battle of the Somme tour in France. I was a member of staff, however, that didn't hold me back from joining in with the students when it came to flying!
While working in England, I was surprised at the amount of holidays most British private schools received. This, of course, meant plenty of travel time to explore each corner of Europe. For my main summer holidays I travelled to Eastern Europe on an Inter-rail unlimited train pass and then joined a Topdeck Tour to venture through Western Europe. The places I saw, the stories that accumulated and the friends that I made are truly irreplaceable. It was a unique time when my greatest stress was deciding which country I should visit next!
Tutors Worldwide was so supportive throughout my working year in England. They were in contact with myself and my school during the year to ensure everything was running smoothly, even paying us a visit a couple of times through the year. I felt that they were very contactable if there was ever an issue.
Being a gap tutor taught me to be financially self-sufficient, travel independently and to step well beyond my comfort zone, which was a valuable experience that has benefited me in a significant way. Interestingly, in going to University the following year I noticed quite a dramatic difference in maturity levels between students who had taken a Gap year compared to those who had come straight from school. I feel it is so important for school leavers to have a break from study and have a chance to build their independence and maturity before they embark on their future careers.
If I had the opportunity I would do it all over again!
Meredith O-J (Australia 2012)
Taking a gap year is honestly, hands down, the best decision I have made to date. After a hectic final year of school I wasn't terribly excited about the idea of heading straight to university, especially considering I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to do. Through TWW I was able to experience an exciting, eye-opening, experience-filled but safe year away from home. The gap year provided countless new experiences: opportunities to do some serious travelling; meeting new people and making new friends, as well as experiencing the clichéd but true phenomenon of 'discovering yourself.'
I was fortunate to be placed in a lovely school where my responsibilities included assistant sports coach, a helping hand in the classroom and boarding house as well as a bit of admin work. A day in the life of a Gappy is often long and challenging, but very rewarding. Trips away with the school were an added bonus, whether it was to a museum, a ride on the London Eye or a week away in Normandy. As a Gappy you are given a lot of responsibility, and although the work you do can sometimes seem trivial or mundane, it is essential, and you play an integral part in the school community. I found that the school staff really appreciated me, and I became firm friends with some during the year.
For most, myself included, the most exciting part of the gap year was the chance to travel throughout Europe. The long summer break, Easter break and long weekends during the terms were times to refresh and get out and about. I did some solo travelling, an organised tour with Topdeck as well as trips away with friends. I saw amazing sights throughout the UK and Europe - memories I'll have for life. I couldn't recommend taking a gap year more – it's a chance to step out of education and really experience life. At the end of the year you come home a more worldly person with a fresh lease on life, ready for the next chapter.
Jake Mills (New Zealand 2011)
My gap year through Tutors Worldwide proved to be the best year of my life thus far. At first, the thought of living abroad for a whole year made me slightly nervous, but by the time I flew off to England I was overcome with excitement and ready to hit the ground running.
I settled into my school really quickly and was quite blown away by just how welcoming the whole community was! It made adjusting to life in the UK very easy and a lot of fun.
Luckily for me, the school I was working for allowed me to work in a whole range of different ways, meaning I was kept busy and there was never a dull moment. I particularly enjoyed working with the sports teams, helping run the school production and just getting to know the staff and students around me. Sometimes it seemed the workload became too high, but by simply communicating this to my school, I was able to arrange a slightly less challenging timetable that worked for me and made it that bit more enjoyable. It's all about letting them know.
During the summer, I embarked on a Contiki tour through Europe. This was probably the best part of my entire year. The places I travelled to, the things I saw and the people I met were absolutely amazing! It was a whirlwind of a trip. I arrived home afterwards completely exhausted, but I'll carry those fantastic experiences and memories with me forever. Great times.
All in all, my gap year helped me to mature and gain a lot of independence, whilst still allowing me to have so much fun. I'm so glad I decided to take the plunge and do it.
Alexandra Mounsey (Australia 2010)
When I was 17 I moved from my tiny coastal town to England, and was absolutely amazed.
Leaving my family behind, I was offered a position with Tutors Worldwide working as a PE teacher's aide alongside another Australian girl who became my best friend. The school came to know us by nature rather than name - I was the uncoordinated one and Lily was the uncoordinated tall one. It was a momentous moment when we managed to hit a rounders ball for the first time ever!
We met so many incredible people & travelled to some unbelievable places. I sung Galway girl all the way around Ireland, backed Chelsea in the football, cruised through the Cote d'Azur on a yacht, ate brown bread flavoured ice cream, went on copious shopping trips, barbequed fish on the beach & spent my 18th in a Spanish villa with 20 mates.
Taking a gap year has made an impact that will last well into the future, and is reflected in my total independence, my love of new experiences and my tolerance for marmite!
O Hodge (South Africa 2013)
My choice to take a gap year and specifically work as a "Gappy" in the UK was a very daunting yet exciting decision that I, myself, made. The opportunity to work in the UK and have a safety net from which to be based as well as having the chance to travel around Europe were the perfect life choice at this time in my life - having finished school and not sure of what I wanted to study at university.
I found myself in many challenging and dichotomous situations over the year; I was away from home for a long period of time, but I was able to explore over twenty of Europe's most enchanting countries.
Working as a gappy proved to be a tough experience. The first two weeks were a culture shock for me: I had come from sunny South Africa where I lived bare foot, into a culture of people that lived mostly indoors due to the extreme cold. But gradually it became my home, I would be excited to get up in the morning and see the boys - who too came with their own challenges. As gappies we were often given tasks that no one else would want to do, but they never outweighed the positive impact the experience had on me as an individual. I was given a year to grow up and the space to be awakened to the rigours of real life.
This year taught me how to be equipped for life ahead, coming from a protected childhood, I was now an independent adult, able to greet any situation with a high chin and a strong, positive personality. I am grateful to have had this enriching and valuable experience and recommend it to anyone looking for a constructive and rewarding gap year.
Sam Kennedy (New Zealand 2011)
A gap year will be the most incredible year of your life so far. The chance to leave your comfort zone and experience the world is one that not many people get and is most definitely not one to pass up.
Travelling to the United Kingdom and experiencing the wonders of Europe will open your eyes to things that you would never have believed: the majesty of the Austrian Alps; the food in Italy; the beaches in Sicily; and particularly the delights of losing yourself in the historical cities that Europe is so revered for.
Tutors Worldwide places you to work in a school, which is an experience in itself. It is an opportunity to take on responsibility and to gain valuable work experience while being a heck of a lot of fun. The more effort you put in, the more fun it becomes as the staff appreciate your work so much and so try to make your time as enjoyable as possible. For example, I got to tick a box on my bucket list by going with the
school to see Roger Federer play Rafael Nadal. Working at a school also gives you a guaranteed job with enough holidays to travel Europe as well as giving you a home base so there is always a place to go if it is needed.
A gap year is also character-building. It is not always unhindered fun, but learning to be independent and deal with the undoubted challenges that will crop up along the way gives you skills that will always be with you. You learn to accept what happens and realise that just because something did not go exactly to plan does not mean that there is nothing to be gained from it. A gap year is one of the best decisions that you can ever make. Just ask yourself, how would you feel in 3 years if you didn't take one? Do it and you won't regret it.
Jenna Fulcher (South Africa 2011)
'Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced' – John Keats. My Gap year was the best year of my life – travelling, great work experience,
gaining independence and meeting fantastic people. It was an amazing opportunity for me to 'spread my wings and fly.' The world became my oyster...
I was placed by TWW in an amazing school in Bath where I made friends for life and had the opportunity to work with wonderful staff members. I learnt a lot from working in the school as I coached sport, assisted in some drama classes and helped out in the boarding house. I was involved in every aspect of the school and I loved working there. It really is true that whatever you put in, you will get out. I was extremely lucky to be placed with three other amazing gap students and together we grew and discovered what life is really about.
One of the most rewarding things about my gap year was that I had the opportunity to travel Europe during the school holidays. I made it to 22 countries last year and it has sparked my desire to continue travelling the world. Europe is incredible – the culture, the architecture, the people, everything is just so new and exciting! I made the most of every moment - tried new foods, did some adventurous activities, met fellow 'gappies' and enjoyed the fact that I was travelling to some of the most sought-after places in the world. I loved Budapest in Hungary and Eastern Europe – it is truly a diamond in the rough. There are so many things to do – Paddywagon, Topdeck, Contiki, Busabout and more.
A gap year is one of the most rewarding things to do and through Tutors Worldwide I had the opportunity to grow and have an adventure of a lifetime!
Genevieve Alison (Australia 2011)
After completing school, I looked to the Gap Year as a chance to break away from my comfortable routine and challenge myself by experiencing something new and completely foreign. My year abroad was everything I had hoped for, but nothing like what I expected. It was a year of independent exploration as I learned to navigate the highs and lows of living out of home and working full time. It taught me the value of hard work as well as giving me the opportunity to travel extensively.
Of course the year was not without its challenges, however the 'Gap community', created through companies such as Tutors Worldwide, served to bring expatriate tutors from all around the country together. Having the support from a community of like-minded people, who were experiencing everything alongside you, was invaluable. As a result, I returned from my year away with friends from all over the world.
The Gap Year came at a pivotal time in my life, as I'm sure is the case for many others – school had finished and the next stage of my life was about to begin. Taking a year away gave me the opportunity to truly consider which direction I would take upon my return, and solidify my choices when it came to university and beyond. My Gap Year offered me a taste of the world outside and the countless opportunities that await.
Rob Field (South Africa 2010)
My decision to seek out Tutors Worldwide was a late one but it turned out to be one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was Tutors Worldwide that needs all the recognition as they found me a spot within a couple of weeks of applying and I was really grateful for that. As fate would have it I ended up being placed at a prestigious school with so much history in its walls, and that in itself was a privilege. My job had me working in all areas around the school and I really loved it. From working in the reception doing the mail, to coaching sport to the younger students, this gave me the opportunity to experience new things. Then came the holidays and I was eager to explore the world, or as far as my budget would take me. I saw many different cultures and countries and I travelled as far as Thailand. It gave me a whole new sense of entitlement and independence and it truly was a remarkable time in my life. Being able to experience life working at a school also gave me an idea of what it was that I wanted to pursue in my tertiary education. I made many friends and got along with the teachers and the students alike. If there is any advice that I can give it would be to GO FOR IT! This is a perfect opportunity to experience something that you have not experienced and it only comes along once, grasp it with open arms! And one last thing, if you find yourself being placed at a school, do your best to get stuck in with everything that the school can offer and everything you can offer the school. You might just find that the best experiences happen that way!
Oscar JH (Australia 2011)
Unquestionably, my gap year was an experience I will never forget. As opposed to holidays, a gap year allows you to experience a different life. I went over there and I became an English person for 12 months so much so that by the end of the year greeting people became a jaunty 'alright'. Working at the school was incredible. I was made to feel completely welcome and instantly made heaps of great friends not just from England but from New Zealand and South Africa too and we would all sit there arguing over the correct pronunciation of 'yoghurt' over a pint at the local pub.
I went over looking forward to those long school holidays where I could go and experience the wonders of Europe, saving up penny by penny for that next EasyJet ticket to go… everywhere, from the Scottish Highlands to the bustling streets of Budapest and everywhere in between. They did not disappoint. And after weeks of living out of a bag, wearing something that has been worn inside out, back to front and splattered in Pisa's finest pasta sauce, it was great to be able to come back to my school, my home, and have a meal and a bed waiting for me before I headed out on my next trip.
However, holidays weren't the highlight of the year. I relished every minute of my role in the school because when again am I going to be payed to go sailing in Wales, learn how to build a table, experience Guy Fawkes Night, go paintballing, and take a trip to Cornwall. But even the everyday was great. I got along really well with both students and teachers, and although it was not often recognised it felt great to be helping out.
I'm sure everyone gets something different from this experience but for me, well I found my vocation and I am now studying primary education at University. I can guarantee that if you get stuck in and take every opportunity you will get so much out of this year and love it just as much. Have no doubts when it comes to a gap year.
Catherine Pringle (Australia 2012)
Stepping onto the plane at the start of 2012 I was excited but anxious. Leaving behind the creature comforts of the beach, vegemite, Tim-tams and more importantly, family and friends.When arriving in London there were many feelings including anticipation and excitement. However, there were also struggles, the short days, cold mornings, frost, snow, and homesickness. I remember in roughly week 2 thinking 'What have I got my self into?!'. However, moving quickly past these speed-humps I can safely say, along with hundreds of like-minded other Gappies, adventuring into a new country, living, working and travelling all throughout Europe has been the most momentous things I have done in my life.Placed in a 300-pupil prep school in Surrey just south of London, I quickly became connected to this place, although chilly! Haslemere was quant, green and beautifully peaceful and just minutes from London Waterloo! Given the opportunity by Tutors Worldwide to share this unforgettable experience, I met my two other Gappies who became like brother and sister - we forged a strong friendship. Meeting other Gappies from schools scattered all over England not only provided interesting weekends away, but also facilitated meeting life-long friends from all over the world.At the school, I found a home away from home. The continuous generosity from the people around us saw us offered Sunday roasts, countless lifts to the station and even an invitation to see Coldplay in London! Being a Gappie was more than just being an employee, I experienced adventures that I would have never thought of undertaking if I hadn't accepted this journey.Travelling from the beaches of Mykonos to the sand dunes of Morocco, I could not name a place that was my favourite. The holidays seemed to be the perfect time to take a break, whether popping up to London for the weekend or riding on a bus throughout Ireland for a week with 80 other Gappies.I could not recommend both Tutors Worldwide and the Gap year experience more. TWW placed me at a perfect school for what I was looking for, as it felt I belonged from the beginning to the end. The contact from TWW throughout the year provided us with security and support, continuously making sure we were happy in our placement. As I sit here writing this, it has been a year since being in Turkey… thinking back upon best year of my life. I will forever be happy that I accepted my Gappy position: it proved to be the most valuable and unforgettable year of my life.
Eleanor (Australia 2011)
Deciding to take a year off after school and participate in Tutors Worldwide in 2010 was the best decision I have ever made. When my final year of school was ending I had decided to defer university but wanted to partake in a program that would help me transition smoothly between finishing school and pursuing higher education studies. Taking a gap year and working in a school in Bristol, UK, did exactly that. I found myself with many responsibilities which I previously had not needed to worry about - finances, living with others and job commitments, but I also found a whole other world had opened up - with places to be explored, people to meet and different cultures to embrace. Although at times the work was difficult and I encountered some frustrating situations, I came out better for it. Regardless, it all paid off when I was able to fly to Berlin for the long weekend, or spend a few months travelling through Europe over summer. Although the gap year was quite possibly the most challenging year of my life, I also had the best experiences and met life-long friends. I would have no hesitation in recommending
participation in a gap year program for anyone who was genuinely interested.
Samantha M (Australia 2011)
I completed my gap year in 2011 in Suffolk, which I now look upon as my home away from home. I would wholeheartedly encourage school leavers to jump at this opportunity to travel to amazing countries, meet people who will become family, and experience things that will remain with you forever. At times I did struggle with being away from family and friends, and the cold English weather was a shock at the start, however the rewards I gained far, far outweighed these few minor adjustments.
The four other Gappies who I lived with truly did become family to me, and we travelled extensively with each other at different points throughout the year. I also met TONS of other gap year students along the way, particularly in Ireland on the infamous Paddy Wagon Tour. I didn't do any of the organised travelling groups such as Contiki but travelled with the friends I met throughout the year. For me, this was a great decision as I truly 'got to know' each country I went to by getting lost in the bustling cities.
I look back and can easily see how much I have grown from the independence that the year brought about in me. I am much stronger, have learnt really valuable life lessons and am also more appreciative of my family. Once home I also had more of a direction in which to go for university and was ready to study again and have a new goal to work towards.
My gap year in 2011 was undoubtedly the best decision I have made. Other students keen to take up a gap year must take a really positive and willing attitude with them and jump at any new experience or opportunity that comes their way and they will surely love their time as much as I did.
Harry Corkill (New Zealand 2010)
I was a Gap student with Tutors Worldwide in 2010. I heard about the scheme through my sister who had been a gappy a few years earlier, as well as having gap students at my secondary school in New Zealand.
I was unsure what I wanted to do when I left school and the idea of working and travelling really appealed. I was lucky to be placed in a fantastic school, about an hour and a half north of London by train. It was a Year 7-13 co-ed boarding and day school. I had duties mainly in the lower school, years 7 to 10. I was heavily involved in the sports department as a teacher assistant and sports coach.
The school was really supportive of the gap students making sure that our time spent away was fulfilled to its maximum potential. There were 4 of us in total, a male and female from New Zealand and Australia.
Whilst some weekends I was required to be working at school, other weekends I was able to play sport for the local town or travel to meet other gap students around the UK.
The English school system is great as you get a holiday every 6 or 7 weeks; either half term for 10 days or end of term for 3 weeks and then 2 months over the summer. I travelled every holidays throughout England, Ireland and Europe trying to do as much as possible with my time away, Over the summer break I also did a Contiki tour with 40 other 18-20 year olds from the southern hemisphere doing similar things to myself.
Once the summer came to an end I found it was fine going back to school; however I know others struggled a bit once they had a taste of the travel bug.
I made some great friends whilst away, many of whom I still keep in touch with and hope to continue to keep up with. Throughout my time away I matured immensely and gained a sense of what I wanted to do with my life.
I would recommend a gap year to anyone and it will remain one of my best experiences and fondest memories.
Tyler Coleman (Australia 2013)
Finishing school is a huge task, and for me, one that I struggled to find the motivation for. In 2012, while completing my HSC, I found it difficult to figure out what I would do when it was all over. I had no motivation to finish: was university for me? if so, what degree? When some friends returned from a Gap Year in England with exciting stories of travelling, I began to ponder the possibility of a gap year abroad. It would give me more time to understand my different options post high school, as well as the freedom to explore this world as a young, impressionable individual.
I could not be happier with my experience with Tutor's Worldwide. The prospect of a gap year after my exams gave me something to work for and look forward to. And it sure did not disappoint!
Through the work of Tutors Worldwide, I spent a year living and working at a boarding school in Cambridgeshire. The work, for some I know, is difficult - long hours, minimal pay and working with children is tiring - but I would not change the experience for anything. The relationships with staff and students are invaluable. As a full-time employee, I received regular pay (even during the holidays) that helped to fund travel during the year. And some traveling I did - from skiing in the Swiss Alps to riding quad bikes and donkeys in Santorini, I formed countless memories and even more friends along the way.
There were times during the year when it was hard too. Don't expect it to be easy - being on the other side of the world, not knowing anyone and entering full-time work for the first time is hard. But let me say that the bright, happier times of my year by far outweigh the hard.
I will always be thankful to TWW for this opportunity. I grew, learnt, understood, endured and experienced. Don't miss the boat.
Saije Morosin (Australia 2012)
The decision to take a Gap year honestly was the greatest decision of my life so far. Not only has it made me more independent and worldly but it gave me the chance to press pause on reality and take time after the strenuous HSC year to decide what I wanted to pursue at university.
Applying was made incredibly easy with the assistance of Tutors Worldwide, who not only secured me a spot at a Prep School in England, but also made the whole process easy for not only me but my parents!!
I obtained a position in the Senior Girls' House (11-13 year old) which could not have suited me better and I immediately fell in love with the English countryside and my boarding house girls! They became my family whilst away from home. The work was a bit repetitive and exhausting at times: as a house matron my daily duties included laundry, sporting activities, boarding and daily administration duties, as well as putting children to bed and waking them up at 7am!
I was lucky enough to have some amazing colleagues and a whole gang of Gappies just like me all working and living together, which made it all worthwhile and we are all life-long friends. We recently all got together for a reunion in New Zealand. Of course I took every opportunity I could to go and do some travelling! The boarding schools in England have a surprising amount of holidays, so don't worry about not having time to get places!! I travelled to about 20 different countries during my gap year,
including the annual 'Gappy' tour of Ireland in the first half term, an unforgettable Top Deck tour around Europe in the summer as well as hitting up the slopes in France in the winter, and that's just a brief summary!!
I personally would recommend a gap year to anyone who is not afraid of some hard work in return for the opportunity to make life-long friends and have unforgettable experiences. I have now moved completely out of home and am currently studding a Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree; I could not
have settled in independently as well as I have without having taken a gap year. It may seem like a massive step from the comforts of Mum and Dad tobeing completely on your own, but once you are there you will be having too much fun to even notice it! My experience during my Gap year has made me see just how much there is out there; I am so much more motivated to get all the study done and get back to travelling the world!!
Meagan Britz (South Africa 2013)
"Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer".
Deciding to take a gap year through Tutors Worldwide was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
Leaving home at the age of 18 was not an easy task, in fact I was so close to pulling out of the program just before I was due to leave but one morning I woke up and realized that I had been given an opportunity many people could only dream of. This is why I knew I needed to take this opportunity, grab it with both hands and use it to my advantage.
I settled into my school really quickly and it fast became the place I was always to call 'home'.
Taking a gap year taught me a lot about myself including the value of independence and hard work, and even though I was presented with many challenges along the way, it allowed for me to become a stronger version of myself. My year abroad was everything I had hoped for and so much more.
The people I met have become friends for life and the memories I made along the way will forever be a part of me. I loved every single moment of my year abroad.
In twenty years time you'll be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did. So throw away the bow lines and sail away from the safe harbour. Explore. Dream. Discover.
All I could possibly tell those who are planning on taking a gap year is grab every opportunity and never let your time go to waste because before you know it, your year will be over.
Always remember, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" - Lao Tzu. GOODLUCK!!
Jessie Dovovan (Australia 2010)
In 2010 I was fortunate enough to be offered a Tutor placement in Northern England in a rural boarding school. Landing on the other side of the world I was met by 3 feet of snow, some very sweet students and some slightly mad Geordies.
While initially, spending a year away from my family was a very daunting prospect, I was taken under the school's wing and quickly became part of the boarding school family. Having never experienced the boarding school lifestyle, I was touched by how close students, staff and tutors were. The students love 'the Gappies', and were keen to get to know us and hear all about the spiders in Australia! Spending time with the students in the boarding house, playing, and also assisting in teaching was a hugely rewarding experience. I particularly enjoyed helping teach swimming lessons with the Pre-Prep (3-6 years old pupils).
Placed with two other Tutors, I also forged strong friendships with them as we could all relate and support each other through the challenges, the homesickness, the good days, and the not so good. Living in close quarters with anyone can present its challenges, but negotiating these issues just formed part of the experience and in the end, strengthened our friendships. My fellow Tutors remain two of my closest friends and we still catch up two years on.
School holidays gave me the opportunity to travel through the U.K., Europe and Scandinavia, which were highlights of my year away. It was ideal to travel in the school holidays and then be able to return to my UK base. Whilst navigating the challenges of a gap year is part of the Tutor experience, Tutors Worldwide was highly dependable, offering consistent and personal support when needed.
On return to Australia, my overseas experience has helped me to be successful at university and gain further employment. I have significantly increased my general life skills, personal maturity and resilience.
I cannot recommend a Tutor placement enough. It is a rich, life-changing and broadening adventure that will benefit me well into the future. The travel and work experience opportunity is unique, and Tutors provided every level of support to ensure I received maximum benefit from the opportunity.
Sebastian Harris (New Zealand 2011)
My Gap Year experience was easily the best year of my life. I was very fortunate to be placed in the School Music Department, in the United Kingdom, as a music administrator and teacher. One of the major advantages to working in the Gap School network is the opportunity to travel in the school holidays, which, naturally, I made the most of. I managed to, with the School and friends/colleagues, travel throughout Europe and the United Kingdom. Through travel and work, I made life long friends all of whom I will treasure for the rest of my life.
Though my year was phenomenal, there were, as with anything, ups and downs. These included home sickness and learning to support yourself in holiday periods, on the opposite side of the world from your family. Though I don't profess that it is easy, the positives hugely outweigh the negatives. The personal growth, worldly exposure and even the simple enjoyment of travel that I experienced were incredible
and I can't wait to get back to Europe! I would recommend Tutors Worldwide to anyone leaving school, with the main reason being the solidly set-up support network for Gap Tutors.
I should also note that it has been very smooth re-settling into life back home and I am currently well on the way to getting into the University Medical School Programme post-Gap Year.
Alexandra Bolze (South Africa 2010)
I would most certainly recommend taking a gap year after school. Tutors Worldwide provides an incredible opportunity for those who have no idea what to do after they leave school and who may have an interest in seeing what the world has to offer. Leaving school, I did not know which career choice would be best suited to me. Growing up in a small town, I lived a very protective lifestyle and was rather naïve about the world at large. Tutors Worldwide served as an organised and well run agency that helped make the process of travelling so much easier. During my time at a school in Bristol, England, I encountered challenges that I had never been faced with before. Learning to budget, handling my finances, working, and many other responsibilities were some of the challenges I learnt to face. These challenges, however, all aided me in my development and I slowly transformed into a young adult. The hardships were also outweighed by the positives that came out of this experience. Teaching at a school confirmed that I would like to pursue a career in the education field one day. Travelling was easily accessible and we made good use of this, therefore gaining eye-opening experiences and creating magnificent memories along the way. Lifelong friendships were made as well as memories that will be hard to forget.
Georgie Eastell (England 2013)
Last year in July I set off for New Zealand with absolutely no idea of what to expect for what was to come. All I knew was that I was to spend the next 12 months on the other side of the world, living and working at a school in Christchurch. A year on I could not be more pleased with my decision to do so! I was welcomed into my school like I was one of their own from the word 'Go'. I quickly made friends with the South African gap tutor who was already positioned at the school and within a week she had shown me the ropes and set an amazing example as to what was expected of us. I could not have had more loving and supportive staff in the Boarding House which was just what I needed to help with the inevitable ups and downs of being away from my family and friends for such a long time! Not only was the job a fantastic way to learn new skills and grow in confidence as an individual but it also provided me with so many 'once in a lifetime' experiences - I can't quite believe it when I look back! I was able to use the school holidays and long weekends to travel around the whole of New Zealand in a campervan, experience the east coast of Australia on a Contiki bus, and even managed a trip over to South East Asia to learn the ways of the Vietnamese and Thai. I met some truly amazing people who will always be very close to my heart, and some that I know will be lifelong friends. I cannot express enough how much fun I had this year and how much I recommend Tutors Worldwide to anyone looking for a year abroad. It really was a year to remember and I cannot wait to go back and visit in the near future
Claudia Olds (Australia 2013)
If someone asked me at the beginning of 2012 if I wanted to take a gap year, living and working in the UK for a whole year, I would have laughed and said "no way". I was the typical mummy and daddy's girl who had never been away from home for more than a few nights. I was very dependent on my family and still had my laundry done and my school lunches packed. I had never even considered taking a gap year until I heard about it through friends and their siblings. Even when I heard how amazing it sounded, I still thought it would suit other people more than me. After some convincing, I finally made the decision to send in an application form, and when I got a letter back explaining I had been chosen to have an interview, the nerves starting kicking in. I turned up to my interview with Tutors Worldwide in a panic, having forgotten everything I had planned on saying. The whole process was a bit of a whirlwind, until I received a letter in the mail with my acceptance to work at a Prep School in Surrey. Then the reality of the whole situation really started to hit me – I was going to be leaving my family and friends in Sydney for a whole year and stepping out into a completely unfamiliar situation.
I am extremely happy I went through Tutors Worldwide, as they honestly go out of their way to ensure each candidate is matched with an appropriate school and fellow 'gappies'. I was lucky enough to be placed at a school, where I was welcomed into the school community immediately. The staff, students and even parents were extremely warm and easy to get along with. And most importantly, my fellow 'gappies' became my best friends and family for the year, and will definitely remain some of my closest friends. If I hadn't taken the chance to go on a gap year I never would have met the massive number of people I did. I worked with three other gap students – another boy from Australia, and a boy and girl from South Africa. I now have contacts all over the world I can call on when I travel in the future.
Obviously, even though most of the year was absolutely amazing, there were still some downs. I did struggle every now and then with homesickness, however with things like Facebook and Skype it really was easy to click a few buttons to see familiar faces that made me feel like I was at home again. I even Skyped my dog a number of times, which always made me feel better. I was also lucky enough to have a number of wonderful people I could turn to whenever I felt a little down. All in all, the good times DEFINITELY 100% outweighed the bad.
One of the best parts of living and working in the UK was its proximity to the rest of Europe. I went from having seen only parts of Australia and New Zealand to visiting almost every country in Europe. One of the perks of working in a school was the holidays, of course! Every five to six weeks I was able to get away on another exciting adventure in the 'half-terms', and for great, reasonable prices too! It's safe to say I have well and truly caught the 'travel bug'. Some of the highlights of my travels were definitely 'Paddy Wagon' and 'Top Deck' which were bus tours around Ireland and Europe. It was so good not having to worry about where we were going to stay or what we would have for dinner as it was all organized before we left.
I left Sydney not wanting to leave my friends and family, but ended up being ten times worse when it came to saying good bye to my gap year friends and family. Taking a gap year was the best decision I have ever made and I strongly encourage anyone and everyone with the opportunity, who is even considering taking a gap year, to DO IT! It honestly is a once in a lifetime opportunity that nothing else will ever come close to at this age. Nothing beats the nervous excitement of leaving your friends and family for the first time only months after graduating from high school and having no idea what to expect of the year ahead. It was the greatest year of my life so far and I am now far more independent and am able to cook, clean and do laundry on my own!
Giverny Tombs (Australia 2012)
My Gap year in 2012 was definitely by far the best decision I could ever have made. The year was priceless!!
Through the help of Tutor's Worldwide, I was placed in the greatest school I could have asked for: beautiful location, kind and caring people, feeling 'at home' from day one. With other gaps working at the school from South Africa and New Zealand, we all instantly became a close little family.
Of course, as anyone would be, I was very nervous to leave home for the first time. The feeling was daunting! Nonetheless, as soon as you arrive you know it is going to be the most memorable year of your life! So many things to do and see, and let me tell you: do not say 'no' to an opportunity (if it's about money, you will earn it back). You will not often get an opportunity like it again! Visit every country you have dreamed of (it's the cheapest its going to get) and make the most of every situation and opportunity that comes your way.
The year away from home has definitely built up my confidence levels and my independence. Before I wouldn't have dreamt of doing anything on my own, now all I can think of is 'where do I want to travel to next'. Through my gap year, countless fond memories were formed and many life-long friendships were made with people from all over the world.
I am at University now, living on college and the most common thing I have heard all year when I mention that I did a gap year away is "I wish I did a gap year overseas, completely regret not going".
You will not regret your year away.
Ben Good (New Zealand 2012)
Like most of the students my age, during my last few years of High School I was rather clueless as to what I wanted to do with my life. Luckily for me however, I bumped into a friend's older brother who had just returned from his Gap Year. With seemingly endless stories of friends, travel and incredible life experiences, he had convinced me to look into the opportunity for myself and after a quick browse of the website I had made my decision – I was going on a Gap Year!
I was only 17 when I finished high school, left my family and embarked on what was to be the best year of my life! Of course the nerves were high as I walked through the gates of Heathrow Airport, but after meeting up with my other Gap Students, the nerves quickly vanished and the excitement kicked in. I was very fortunate not only to be placed in a prep school down in the beautiful Dorset countryside, but to also be there with several other Gap Students! This made everything so much easier as we were all feeling exactly the same during the first few weeks. By the end of the year, we had all forged such close and lasting friendships that still very much exist today (almost 2 years later!).
Of course it's not all Contikis and snakebites (although they are pretty important too!), you are also employed to do a job but that's where 'Work hard, play hard' seemed to be the underlying motto between us Gappies. It's also the outlook that I would suggest to anyone who is thinking of heading overseas on a Gap Year, as, like most things in life, you only get out as much as you put in. Making the most of your year out is a term you'll hear constantly but there is a reason for that – it's because it's true!! The purpose of a Gap Year like this is to further yourself as a person through life-changing experiences and stepping out of your comfort zone, and I can assure you, there is no shortage of opportunities on offer, but again, only if you are willing to do so!
There are far too many incredible highlights for me to single out just a few, and surprisingly not all of them are from my holiday travels. I absolutely loved the school I was at and the students, staff and friends that came with it! If you enjoy the working environment you're in then the year will fly by (almost too quickly!) and make it just that much more enjoyable. What you gain from an experience such as this truly sticks with you for many years to come and the amount of personal growth, in my opinion, is truly priceless! I returned home with a visible zest for life and was genuinely excited to get stuck into my University Degree.
For those of you about to embark on your journey with Tutors Worldwide, I wish you all the best with your year and cannot express the ridiculous amount of envy I have for you!! For those that are considering taking up such and opportunity, I'd be surprised if you haven't begun to apply already – I assure you this is not something you want to miss!!!
Leanne Corliss (New Zealand 2012)
Taking a gap year through Tutors Worldwide was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made and definitely an opportunity that shouldn't be missed. It enables you to grow and mature as a person through many incredible experiences you will encounter. Working in a school is such a great way to do a gap year as it's a safe and supportive environment which is what you need when going overseas by yourself. It also gives you lots of school holidays where you get the opportunity to travel which is absolutely fantastic. The best advice I can give for you to make the most of your year is to go over with an open mind. Be prepared to work hard but know that it will all be worth it when you're gallivanting around Europe in your long holidays. Remember, the more you put in, the more you get out. At the end of the year you'll find you've gained new skills, had incredible experiences, covered most of Europe, immersed yourself in different cultures and made great friends from all over the world that you're sure to keep in contact with. I guarantee you that once your year is over you will want to do it all over again.
Daniel T (Australia 2012)
I had an amazing gap year in England in 2012, working at a senior school just outside Manchester. I made countless new friends, both at the school I worked at and among the people I travelled with, and had some great adventures throughout Europe in the holidays. I highly recommend taking a gap year, it's by far one of the best things I've ever done.
Clara Duvill (South Africa 2012)
Summing up a gap year into a reader-friendly length article is not an easy task! There are only so many words in my vocabulary to aptly describe my 2012 gap year in England, so please bear with me.
I began the application process early on in my Matric year. It seemed to be a bold decision to make so early on in the year as all my friends were only mumbling about universities at this point. I felt an appropriate level of apprehension – I had never spent more than two weeks away from my family: admittedly I was a 'home girl.' For me, it was Tutors Worldwide who cemented my decision to leave my nest of familiarity and embark on this exciting adventure. TWW seeks to ensure that your interests and strengths are matched to a school. It was also comforting to know that each school that is linked with TWW has been "tried and tested". I'm not entirely sure how TWW got the match so accurate for me (the interview was only about half an hour after all) but I ended up at the most charming and happy little prep school in the Kent countryside.
And so I left Cape Town England bound. My nerves soon disappeared as the people who were to be my stand-in family for a year warmly welcomed me in. I quickly learnt the ropes; how to navigate myself around the town, how to use the public transport and finally how to get around the mother city of London. The support at the school was overwhelming! I was constantly being invited over for dinners, sleepovers and various adventures with staff and families at the school.
I was one of two gappies living in an apartment above the school. My co-gappy was from Australia which meant that 'mate' was an integral part of my vocabulary within the first few weeks. It was great getting to know somebody else that you would not have ordinarily have got the chance to meet. We were also able to connect with gap students who were working at local schools. The great thing about meeting these people was that we were all in the same boat and thus we quickly became good friends and spent a lot of time together as well as making plans to travel.
The work that we 'gappies' were expected to do was usually fun and we were given an appropriate amount of responsibility without being thrown in the deep-end. We helped take a lot of the sports lessons and assisted the teachers in the classrooms. We worked very reasonable hours and were able to do some babysitting in the evenings which was a great way to earn some extra money!
I don't want to give you the impression that every day of the year was the best day of my life. There were times that the grey weather made me a bit miserable (all South Africans love the sun!), there were times when I felt a bit homesick and sorry for myself, and there were certainly times when all I wanted was a home-cooked meal and a hug from Mom and Dad. These times, however, were drowned out by the incredible places I got to see and the family and friends I made. Looking back on my time in England, I vaguely remember the times I felt those tinges of sadness. What I do remember, though, are the times I spent lying on beaches all over Europe, the galleries and museums I was lucky enough to see and the people I met that became my family. Because gappies in the UK start working at the school in January and leave in December, we are able to enjoy the long summer holiday in July and August. There are other holidays too. My gappy and I both managed to visit an "obscene" number of countries in our year away. The amount of time we were able to spend travelling definitely made up for any work that we found tedious during the term time.
Tutors Worldwide came to visit us twice in the year. This was so comforting to both myself and my parents. Needless to say that there was nothing to complain about but it was great to know that we were being supported by so many people.
I noticed a change in myself sometime during my time away. I had become a lot more independent and because I did not have my lovely parents to do everything for me, I quickly learnt how to be okay by myself and grew very strong from that. I also realised how much my parents did do for me and came back home with a new-found respect and appreciation for them! Furthermore, I was lucky enough to be able to see places and immerse myself in cultures that many people only ever see on the television. I developed a great love for the history and art of the countries I visited and felt that I was able to break out of the bubble I had been in. And for me, this is the best thing that a gap year offers you – a chance to see that there is a whole world beyond the place that you've grown up in.
I feel as though I could write a dissertation about my incredible stay abroad but unfortunately this post does not allow for that. What I will leave you with, however, is the advice to just go ahead and do it. I have known a great many people who have done a gap year through TWW and I can honestly say that I have not met one person who has regretted their decision. I regularly keep in touch with the friends I met overseas and often find myself flicking through photographs I took of our travels. If I ever experienced any homesickness on my gap year, I can honestly tell you that it does not compare to the homesickness I now feel for my home in England.
Bonnie (Australia 2012)
Some people gave me a strange look when I told them I was taking a year off from starting university to go overseas; but when you're lying on the beach of San Sebastian in Spain while your friends are knee deep in exam revision, it was clear that I'd made the right choice.
Working in a school was an incredibly rewarding experience; you learn (true!) patience, while building a sense of responsibility, leadership and respect. While it was overwhelming at first, the friends I made - in both staff and students - were what really made working in a school the most enjoyable. The local Starbucks was a regular meeting point to discuss our sometimes stressful lives as staff!
I owe thanks to Tutors Worldwide for their organisation of my year abroad. They provided a seamless transition from Australia to the UK; taking care of flights, visas and the allocation of my school - I just had to be at the airport on time! Without their help my year would not have been what it was.
Alex M (Australia 2012)
In 2012 I embarked on a trip to the UK to be what is know as a "gappy". My placement took to me to a small town two hours South West of London on the train. My main job was working in the Physical Education department as a helper in classes and coaching sports teams for the school. The sports that I had the pleasure of coaching were hockey, cricket, rugby, athletics and basketball just to name a few. Of course not every job was coaching which led to activities such as enveloping letters, editing the school website and washing clothes but through doing these jobs I also got to enjoy the fun activities when they came around. Through the work of Tutors Worldwide and my school I had my flights, accommodation and food all organised for me which gave me a great experience while I was away. While away I gave had the philosophy of "if I do the boring jobs, I'll then get the awesome jobs" and this was the case. Since returning home I have more confidence and mental growth which has led me to university. I would highly recommend going to the UK as a gappy as you have the chance to travel the world, make lifelong friends and have one of the best years of your life!
Tessa Telle (New Zealand 2012)
I took my GAP year in 2012 as I left school and it was the best decision I ever made! To apply through Tutors Worldwide was a decision I made very randomly one day at school - I saw a flyer! It was only once I had been accepted and placed that I realised what I had gotten myself into. It was a very nerve-racking feeling to know that you are going off to work in a foreign country with people you are not yet familiar with, but as soon as I was over there I could tell I had made the right decision. Straight away you are treated as a responsible adult and member of staff and I found this to be a great help in the growing of my independence: looking after children (I soon found) can be a very rewarding experience. Not only did I gain a sense of pride in my work, learnt what it takes to be independent and responsible, but I also made some very strong friendships with my fellow 'gappies.' We all bonded very quickly (which living together will do), and this made for a fantastic year. Of course there were some challenges for me as well: coming straight out of school I found it hard to see myself as a mentor to the kids rather than one of their friends - it was a weird concept to understand that I was now a member of staff rather than a student. Once I had understood my role and boundaries, this became a learning experience for me rather than a challenge, and I ultimately benefitted greatly from this aspect. Aside from the job itself, taking a GAP year is the best opportunity for travel! I had the time of my life every half term and holiday break. Making the most of our wages, the girls and I would book a trip to somewhere in Europe with our other 'gappy friends'. Groups of us would organise package deals online, and spend our time partying, relaxing and being tourists all over Europe. Over the two-month summer break it was popular amongst the GAP community to do a 'Contiki' or 'Top Deck' tour. I decided on a month long 'Top Deck' tour around 11 European countries, and it was the most fun I have ever had. To describe all of the benefits of taking a GAP year would result in a 10 page essay. I gained so much from my year abroad. Aside from the obvious independence and organizational skills, I feel it helped me to grow and develop as a person. There is something completely exciting and refreshing about being thrown into a new and scary environment half way around the world, especially after enduring 13 years of school. It was a life experience and learning curve I will never forget. Though, most importantly, I have gained a glorious amount of friends from all around the world.
Hannah McDowall (Australia 2013)
2013 was to date the most rewarding and unbelievable year of my life. 2013 was the year I was taken under the wing of Tutors World Wide, and ventured over to England to spend 12 months working and living in an English boarding school as a GAP student. Today, when people ask me about my GAP year, summing up such a phenomenal year is almost impossible! Being a gappy has to have one of the best job descriptions available: getting paid to travel, shop, experience, eat, live in an overseas country, and work with likeminded people and children from all over the world. Due to the school staff being so welcoming, children becoming like little sisters and brothers, and days being jam packed with activities and sports, I am yet to meet a GAP student that didn't fall in love with their allocated school.
One of the main bonuses of working as a GAP student is the school holidays; with Europe on your doorstep, the world becomes your oyster. From weekend trips to Paris to month long tours around Europe, I tried to squeeze as many destinations as I could into my year. With a final count of 16 countries, including France, Italy, Morocco, Spain, Croatia, Turkey and many more amazing places exploding with culture, it is safe to say I caught the travel bug. Some of these experiences are due to taking part in Top Deck and Paddy Wagon tours – 30+ gappies having the time of their lives.
While the thought of moving to the other side of the world without knowing a soul may originally be quite daunting, the friendships, experiences, and life lessons you come out with are things I am so grateful for. My mindset going into a GAP year was to have a fun year and meet some cool people. However I came out with contacts from all over Europe, having a school as a second home, friends that I continue to be in contact with, and a suitcase full of memoires. I can't recommend a GAP year enough, and if I had the chance, would do it all again!
Alice (Australia 2012)
First things first, this will be one of the best years of your life (supposedly full of drunk stories, hung-over work days, gaining the dreaded gap fat, challenges and rewarding experiences and making new friends!). I worked as a boarding and teaching assistant in York during 2012. Another gap student from New Zealand and I were lucky enough to have a flat on school grounds, which was great. In the school holidays we went travelling; Paddywagon around Ireland (which all gappies do!) and Top Deck tour around Europe (where you can tick off many things on your bucket list). During term times however they worked us really hard.
A gap year as a tutor:
- Gives you an opportunity to live away from home overseas, learn how to budget and look after yourself for a year including dealing with homesickness.
- Lets you meet and make really good friends with people from all over the world that you otherwise wouldn't have come in contact with.
- Affords you great opportunities for travel and experiencing new cultures especially that of the country where you are based.
- Gives you a break from study and allows time to decide where you want to go in life and what you want to do.
- Gives you life skills and confidence, in particular learning to deal with workplace relationships and learning to rely on yourself to deal with problems that arise.
- Offers a "real" work experience, where the work can be long and hard: the students could be difficult but they could also be charming and funny and you learn how to understand and relate to them.
Rory Callaway (New Zealand 2012)
Having been told before leaving home by returning gap students who had once been in my shoes, "Take advantage of every opportunity, never let time go to waste and enjoy every new experience", I still wasn't quite ready for the year that was about to ensue and how beneficial those words would be. The 12 months that I spent abroad weren't without their challenges, dealing with situations that in my previous 18 years of existence I had never faced. However the positives far outweighed the challenges and I look back with nothing but fond memories.
I was based in Bristol (England), at a small 250-pupil preparatory school. Whilst there I was involved with many school trips, camps and outings, but was primarily concerned with coaching sport and helping out in classrooms. Have no doubt the workload certainly isn't small – you're involved in school life as much as the teachers, if not more so, but the holidays more than make up for it. Tutors Worldwide took care of everything from answering questions before leaving, to putting me in touch with my school as well as catching up with me during the year to make sure everything was going to plan. I couldn't recommend them enough if I tried.
It was only after I was home again, neck-deep in advanced mathematics and physics, that I realised the profound effect my travels had on me. The challenges I faced and overcame gave me wisdom beyond my years and a brand new perspective on the world.
The insane landscapes, new people and amazing cultures I experienced made leaving home for the year the best decision of my life.
If you're unsure about your future or aren't ready to launch into the next phase of your life, definitely get involved with TWW and get amongst it!!!