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  • Dan Cooke

Mind the GAP

I am just back from gap year. I get asked: Should you take a gap year? Yes. Whether you're 18 or 48 (other ages do apply), take the opportunity! Gap years seem to be rising in their popularity however I feel like there's a sort of stereotype placed upon them; bearded, dreadlocked teenagers prancing about the globe on a journey to 'find themselves' and I think this stereotype needs to be put to bed. A gap year can be whatever you want it to be, it's a chance to fulfil that dream you've had since you were a kid. I've just come back from 7 months of playing cricket in Australia and I can safely say, they were the most eventful, exciting, entertaining months of my life. I went out a couple of months before my 19th birthday, never having been away from my parents for more than about a week and the feeling of freedom that rushed through me when I arrived was exhilarating. Sitting in a flat I shared with 5 other people my age, knowing we could within reason, do whatever we wanted to do and whenever we wanted to do it. Now that may come across as a dangerous combination and at times that probably did show through, but what better way to learn about the world around you than by just throwing yourself into it; which is exactly what we did. We were bound to make mistakes here and there, trips to hospital, run ins with the police, noise complaints from neighbours, lots of noise complaints from neighbours but I firmly believe these real world experiences are worth an infinite amount more than theoretical situations brought up in a classroom. Now by now, if you are a 48 year old, you're probably wondering why I called you out, then proceeded to make patronising comments about growing up and learning about the world, the chances are, you've probably worked out how the world works by now. That doesn't mean gap years aren't for you. I firmly believe that anyone, any age should take a year out if they get the opportunity. This may come out as slightly hypocritical due to my earlier bashing of this stereotype, but I do feel completely rejuvenated and for want of a better phrase, in some sense I did 'find myself'. But I don't put it necessarily down to the travelling, or the experiences, I put it down to the time that I was allowed to create for myself. Time away from work, a classroom, city life, everyone needs it and not enough people are getting it. So take that chance, take a gap year, realise that forgotten dream, it'll be the best decision you ever make. Have a great week ahead and yes, make some time for yourself! Dan Cooke

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