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A European Gap Year

I have recently embarked on the most exciting experience of my life - I have started to travel around Europe during my Gap Year. In this travel diary I would like to share some of my thoughts and give recommendations to fellow travellers, as I know how hard it can be out there sometimes...but don't worry it's all worth it!

Diary Entries

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

This is some information about teaching english abroad, as a few people have asked me of I have any more information. My friend rang me this afternoon telling me again how much fun it is...

If you are interested in seeing a little more of the world than just your home country, but don’t know how to pay for a far-away holiday, teaching english abroad is a really good alternative. You can enrol on so-called TEFL courses, which allow you gain a valid certificate with which you can teach English as a foreign language in almost anywhere in the world. One destination that is popular with many young people is Mexico. It’s vibrant culture and breath-taking scenery makes it a place you will never forget and always be coming back to. When taking a job as an English teacher in Mexico, you don’t only get the chance to contribute to the lives of the people there, but can also improve your own skills. Of course, living there you would quickly learn to speak Spanish and also get involved in every-day culture from your first day. Furthermore, by giving the people in Mexico the chance to learn English in their home country you spare them from having to pay a fortune for courses abroad (curso inglÚs). It is therefore an activity where you can take and give at the same time and in any case is a rewarding job to have.
Apart from gaining a qualification by doing a TEFL course you will also get to know many other people from all around the world, which means that on weekends you can explore the surrounding areas of the city where your course is taking place. If you are enrolled in an ITTO TEFL course located in Guadalajara, Mexico, you will benefit from excursions to the stunning beach in Puerto Vallarta. These trips are fully organized twice a year and shouldn’t be missed! It is the perfect way to combine studying and improving your CV with enjoying from the holiday feeling you will no doubt get whilst staying in Mexico.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Hello,

Some more news from my travels...I am currently taking a break from the cities and having a relaxing couple of days in a village in the South of Spain. I felt the extreme need to catch up with all the emails I've been getting and took a day to just read everything my friends had sent. I was especially surprised by a message I got from my best friend, who is also on her gap year at the moment, but doing this in Latin America, rather than Europe. The last I knew was that she had settled in Mexico to enjoy the lovely beaches there. I knew she had instantly found a liking for the place, but now she tells me she will stay there for at least another 6 months! Her plan is do teach English as a foreign language to people in Mexico. Isn't that a great idea? That way she gets to soak in the sun for all this time and can pay her expenses by teaching. Maybe I will do the same after I finish uni or for a few months during my summer holidays. I can imagine that it is a rally self-fulfilling job to be doing and a really good way to combine travel and work.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Hello,

The first destination of my journey around Europe was Seville in Spain. I decided to start in the very South and then work my way up to the North of Europe. Hopefully I will be able to see as many countries as possible...
Seville is a very nice city. Not too big and not too small either. There are lovely things to visit, such as the Cathedral and the Alcazar. But the various parks are equally as interesting.
Also, there is a little train that takes you through the city centre. A wonderful way to rest for a few minutes before continuing to explore. All in all, I find Seville a beautiful place and hope to be able to come back some day.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Most people have a certain desire to travel the world, which is why more and more young people decide to take a gap year between finishing school and starting university. Be it a long or short term journey, the benefits are well known – undergraduates starting university more mature, confident and better prepared having experienced life away from home before. This time can be used to learn a new language, consider plans for the future and, most importantly, to have an extraordinary experience that includes getting to know not only different countries, but also cultures.

However, it is often forgotten that to have this experience you do not need to travel as far as South-East Asia or Australia, but can have the same or an even better experience right on your doorstep in Europe. The cultural richness of the countries in Europe is impressive and because the countries are relatively small you can travel across them in short periods of time while having all the advantages of experiencing a variety of cultures without having to sit on a plane for hours on end.

Especially now that the railway network has been developed to such a high standard, it is possible to travel comfortably across the whole of Europe by train. In Europe trains such as the Eurostar allow you to travel from one city centre to another (or even from one country to another!) in less time than using any other method of transport. Also, if you purchase one of the euro rail passes (http://www.railpass.com/new/passes/psEurail.htm) your journey will be cheaper than flying or travelling by car. Travelling by train also gives you the added advantage of flexibility. If you find that you are particularly interested in one city you can stay there for as long as you want; you can decide spontaneously when you want to continue your journey. There is no need to have a detailed plan of your travel dates giving you the independence you wish for whilst on your gap year whether you will be moving to the next town or the next country!

The culture Europe has to offer is often underestimated, when in reality it is the European continent that offers one of the most varied cultures in the whole world. You can experience a completely different way of life travelling as little as 100 kilometres. Even within one country there can be immense differences, for example, between the North and the South. Also, not only are you able to visit vibrant and modern cities, but also historical sites, beaches, mountains, metropolises and traditional villages. Train travel covers journeys throughout all these destination types.

Using the train Europe becomes one of the most fascinating destinations you could imagine without having to stretch your budget too much, which also means that there is plenty of money left for luxury treats, such as a shopping spree in Paris or a night out in the famous clubs of London or Berlin.

A gap year is in any case a useful and exciting experience that should be taken advantage of. Being able to spend this year in Europe, closer to family and friends and with a smaller budget, is especially an advantage for those, who have in the past hesitated to go ahead with taking a year out. It also gives you the opportunity to invite friends to come along for parts of the journey, if they are unable to undertake the whole year of travel with you, as in Europe you are never that far away from each other.

www.railpass.com is the largest single rail pass outlet in the US. Within Europe, it sells passes which cover a variety of countries including Germany, Italy, Ireland and France. Outside of Europe, it sells passes covering countries such as New Zealand, North America and Japan. With frequent offers and constant low prices, for a trip such as that described in this article, it is a very much recommended place to start.


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