Taking a gap year

One advantage of taking a gap is that you discover your true passion, but only if you are serious and dedicated throughout the year.

03 December 2019 | Opinion

Octavia Tsibes

Ester Kamati

one who doesn’t know what they want to do right after they obtain their Grade 12 certificate.

According to Martha Uiras, a life skills teacher at a local school in Khorixas, nowadays a gap year is very essential for a scholar to discover themselves and what they want to do.

“Matriculants must use the year to do job-shadowing to gain adequate experience and be sure if this is for them or not,” she says.

There are advantages and disadvantages of taking a gap year. One advantage of taking a gap is that you discover your true passion, but only if you are serious and dedicated throughout the year.

According to Uiras the one disadvantage is that you might not be emotionally ready to see your peers at university or college; therefore, you need be ready to take one (a gap year).

It is very important to fully commit to the decision to discover yourself and what you want to study.

1. A day in the life of an au pair

Pull Quote: “You get to experience a different culture whilst living in the home of a foreign family.”- Inamarie Louw from Carlas Au Pairs.

There are so many options when trying to find something to do while taking a gap year. One such option is being an au pair.

An au pair is an unmarried young adult aged 18 to 30 years, who has no children and travels to a foreign country for a defined period of time to live with a host family.

The au pair supports the host family with childcare and light housework.

They are considered a full member of the family during the temporary period of the au pair’s stay. He or she then helps the family with childcare and can be asked to assume some light household tasks.

In return, the host family provides free board and lodging, as well as pocket money. However, the au pair is neither a housekeeper, nor a nanny.

The main purpose of the au pair placement is a cultural exchange, which gives the au pair an opportunity to improve his or her language skills.

For this reason, child-minding in your own country doesn't count as an au pair stay. The au pair should also attend a language course in the host country.

He or she should, however, have some basic language skills beforehand. Whether it is the au pair or the host family who pays for the language course depends on the prevailing practice of the relevant host country. The same applies to the cost of travel and insurance.

Inamarie Louw from Carlas Au Pairs says that being an au pair can benefit you in many ways. “You get to experience a different culture whilst living in the home of a foreign family.

“They provide you with room and board and either a weekly or monthly stipend, depending on the country you choose to au pair in,” she says.

Other benefits include getting to travel within your new country, and in the case of Europe, you can travel to any European Union (EU) country on your au pair visa.

2. Read little bookworm

If you love reading and literature, reviewing books might be just what you need during your gap year.

If you enjoy curling up on your sofa with your favourite book and you can completely immerse yourself in the literary world, you might enjoy doing some book reviews while you are taking that gap year.

A book review is a form of literary criticism that includes analysing a book based on its content, style and merit.

“It is extremely important for you to understand the intricacies of the book, to properly analyse the characters and to have a comprehension of how all the events and characters are intertwined,” says Lloyd Zandberg, a very successful and passionate book reviewer, who is also a famous comedian, journalist, writer, director and dedicated employee at Namibia Media Holdings (NMH).

“I love reading because it exposes me to a fictional world, and I am able to immerse myself in a world that does not really exist, but offers me all the answers to my questions.”

A good review, according to Zandberg, needs to be able to capture the essence of the book, without giving away the climax and turning points. “Your reader needs to have an idea of what the book entails, without giving too much away. This summary has sort of a marketing value, because the idea is to eventually sell the book through the review. The review needs to read like a story and has to have the same elements, such as an introduction, body and conclusion.”

Zandberg highlights the importance of having a feel for literature when you want to venture into this field, because you need to be able to really understand the literature principles and intricacies the author uses.

Zandberg uses different colour sticky notes to categorise important events or character growth, and this system might be useful for any aspiring reviewers.

“If you want to become a book reviewer you need to start reading and start reviewing your books now. The more you read, the broader your knowledge of writers, authors and the different genres and styles will become,” Zandberg added.

3. Entrepreneurship

Irene-Marie van der Walt

In a world full of decisions, it might seem difficult to choose something you must commit to for the rest of your life. Breathe, take it slow and make some pennies on the side!

Jonathan Harris is the founder of JTH Photography and this has been a means by which the teen has earned a little bit of extra money since he got an entry level DSLR Nikon D3100 for his 15th birthday.

Harris will not be taking a gap year but is definitely not opposed to the idea.

“For some a gap year is necessary to find out what you actually want in life, whether the profession you want to go into is actually what you want to do for the next 20 to 30 years. For others it is just a free year to explore and find themselves, and through this, they see what they will be doing for the rest of their lives. But like I said I'm not going to take a gap year because I feel like I know what I want to study and I see myself succeeding in it,” Harris explains.

Entrepreneurship may also be the way to go if you aspire to but cannot afford tertiary education. After launching your business, you can easily manage it while keeping busy with studies. In this way, you could manage to obtain a degree without the debt that many students make. And once you have your degree, there would be no reason to worry about being another unemployed graduate statistic, as you can easily jump back into your business as a means of income.

4. Job-shadowing: The inside scoop

This is a good option, especially when one has a career in mind that they are not sure about. Many companies in Namibia provide job-shadowing and internship opportunities. This is an inside look at a day in the life of a person in a specific career and basically puts you in their shoes to get first-hand experience of what it takes to survive in that career, which is vital information before committing. One such institution is Namibia Media Holdings (NMH) through their youth brand My Zone. The coordinating journalist Octavia Tsibes said the process is not complex. You only need to send a motivational email to her at [email protected], which states why you would want to job-shadow and for how long will suffice. She will then get back to the applicant in due time, giving them the platform to join the team of journalists for a specified period of time.

Another institution is Deloitte, which offers a two-day shadowing programme for students who are still at school. The student can send them an email, stating their request, after which the company can place them. They work closely with the student to ensure they receive as much info as required. Students can job-shadow in various fields, ranging from information technology, communication and finance, amongst others.

5. Hand-in-hand for a beautiful life

Justicia Shipena

Gap year volunteering allows you to travel in a meaningful way. It is an authentic experience that exposes you to all the benefits of travelling, such as expanding your mindset, growing your independence and boosting your confidence, all while having a positive impact on communities in genuine need of volunteer assistance.

The Zone spoke with AIESEC Namibia and touched on how a young individual can take their time to volunteer after high school. AIESEC is the world's largest youth-run organisation. It is an international non-governmental organisation that provides young people with leadership development, cross-cultural global internships, and volunteer exchange experiences across the globe. The organisation focuses on empowering young people to make a positive impact on society.

Established in 1948 after the Second World War, AIESEC also strives to achieve peace and fulfilment of human potential.

Leadership can be an abstract concept, but at AIESEC they have four leadership qualities that they believe can help to develop leaders who can bring solutions to the world problems.

Those leadership qualities are being self-aware, empowering others, being solution-orientated and a world citizen.

According to Kleopas Johannes, country director for AIESEC in Namibia, to become an AIESEC volunteer only requires one to be a youth under the age of 30, as long as the youth wants to experience and contribute towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as all projects are linked to the SDGs.

“These volunteering projects only run for a period of six weeks maximum and are available in more than 126 countries,” he said.

He said taking a gap year is one of the best investments you can do for yourself, because during this period you become more self-aware and discover yourself and what you really want to do in life.

“It also gives you an opportunity to look at things from a different perspective. It also gives you an opportunity to travel and meet new people; it's more of a self-discovery experience and it's totally worth it,” he added.

If you find yourself having a keen interest in volunteering check out AIESEC’s Facebook page for more details.

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