Monday, October 13, 2008

Gap-Year Advice...

.. Going it Alone
Finishing school presented me with that heady sense of liberation that comes to all prospective gappers. The stress of A-levels, teachers and rules was suddenly gone. As I contemplated my future, I realised that I wasn't considering just my new-found freedom beyond the confines of college, but also the world beyond Britain. I wanted a gap-year project, but what to do? How to do it? Where to do it? It was an overwhelming as well as enthralling choice.
While some of my friends were volunteering with the gap travel companies, others were learning languages or furthering their academic interests at foreign institutions. I wanted to travel.
When people ask me now, "What did you do for your gap year?", I often reply that I took it quite seriously. That is, I spent nearly eight months living out of a small pack, continuously on the move, travelling through the night on rickety buses to save money and cover miles, writing, photographing, dreaming the life of a Kerouac-like wanderer in foreign lands. I didn't learn a definite skill, apart from an acute ability to smell out inflated tourist prices.
For the first part of my trip, I made my way overland from India to Thailand, through Nepal, Tibet, China and Laos, sometimes with friends, sometimes alone. Experiences, I soon realised, were more fun with people I knew well, but felt more profound when I was alone. But after three weeks without a companion, I began telling myself humorous anecdotes, aloud. I was relieved to meet friends again in Laos. In Bangkok I bumped into other people I knew, but didn't linger with them. ...
Telegraph, 18th August 2007


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