What to do if COVID cancelled your Gap Year
You picked 2020 for your gap year and you’re feeling like it was a big mistake… You had big aspirations of partying in Mykonos, tanning in Croatia, sipping rose under the Eiffel tower and eating lots and lots of carbs in Italy. You’re probably still eating lots and lots of carbs at home but apart from that, our good old friend corona will have cancelled the rest of your plans.The timing is AWFUL. However, there’s still plenty of time to make this year count. You don’t need Europe to have an epic year.
BACKPACK EAST COAST AUSTRALIA
There’s something about international travel that entices us to always want to go overseas. We know Australia will always be here so we don’t feel nearly as much pressure to start ticking it off our bucket lists. Personally, I wouldn’t have hesitated to choose Hawaii or Bali over a trip up the coast. However, given that these exciting destinations are no longer an option and you are still on your gap year – now’s the perfect opportunity to explore our own country.
Think about it – we’re stuck in AUSTRALIA of all places. Wipe the tears away, people dream of coming here for a holiday. In 2019 alone, we welcomed 9.5 million international tourists into our country – and for good reason. We have some of the most beautiful beaches, vibrant cities and unique wildlife. So why not make the most of this opportunity and do a tour of your own country?
You’re Aussie so it’s probably safe to assume you’ve been to the Gold Coast, but I bet there’s a tonne of hidden gems you haven’t explored. A lot of international travellers backpack up the east coast starting in Sydney and finishing in Cairns. The typical route would include Byron Bay, The Gold Coast, Brisbane, Noosa, Rainbow Beach, Fraser Island, Airlie Beach, the Whitsunday Islands, Townsville, Magnetic Island and Mission Beach. Although the best part is, it’s completely up to you. You could spend a couple of weeks seeing a few highlights or you could spend two-three months doing the whole shebang – scuba diving, skydiving, bar hopping and four-wheel driving on the beach. Believe me, you’re going to wonder why it took you this long to realise what’s in our own backyard.
Once you’ve finished planning, you might have a bit of time to wait before the domestic borders open back up (sad reacts only). In the meantime – i’ve got you covered with a few other ways to kill time during your gap year semi-productively.
USE YOUR GAP YEAR TO UPSKILL YOURSELF
All your non-gap year friends are busy with uni, so why not spend some of your endless free time doing a bit of online learning yourself? This could set you apart from other students when you start uni next year, and would sure leave you feeling much more productive during this universally lazy time.
TAFE is offering a number of fee-free short courses online in areas such as administration, health, leadership and business which will keep you occupied for around 12 weeks. These are completely free, and you’ll come out of it with a Statement of Attainment to add to your resume! If you’d rather start smaller – there is so much high-quality educational content available on Youtube you can try. Either way, once you start actually doing something, it won’t feel as though your entire year has just gone down the drain.
LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
Continuing on from the online learning point, why not teach yourself a new language? If you’ve ever considered learning a new language, now is definitely the time to do it. You might not get to use it in its country of origin for a while, but it’ll be worth the wait. Speaking multiple languages is a major asset when applying for jobs, when travelling and also just when meeting new people in general. A great place to start is by downloading Duolingo, a fun and honestly sometimes addictive language learning app. Once you’ve started to pick up some of the basics, you can try watching Netflix (which I am 99% confident you are already doing) with subtitles from that language.
The reality is that 2020 is going to be a nothing-year for many of us – me included! So whatever happens (or doesn’t happen) don’t be too hard on yourself. Europe will still be there once we finally say bye-bye to corona!
by Sarah Anderson
Sydneysider with a love for travel, fitness, fashion and lots of food. Catch me on Instagram @sarahhanderson_