Most students in the UK leave school or sixth-form
college at the age of 18 and go to study for three years in a University,
but in recent years many students have chosen to take a one-year break between
finishing school and starting university.
This period is called a gap year and is a time when
British students can broaden their horizons by visiting foreign
Tens of thousands of gap-year travellers leave Britain every
year, with Australia as the most popular destination. While some volunteer
for charity work in developing countries, others will enjoy
eco-tourism or simply backpack through many countries.
Many other gap year travellers try their
hand at teaching English to the locals in the countries they
Students who take a gap year often say the experience helps
them get a better perspective on the world and broadens their cultural
An important part of any gap year is learning about the
culture and society of other peoples. It can be very important to learn about
local norms in order to avoid a culture clash, such as when
Westerners wear clothes that are seen as unacceptable in more conservative
Developments in communications technology mean it is easier
than ever to keep in touch with friends and family at home. Many gap year
students maintain a travel blog or upload their snaps to
photo-sharing websites so that others can see their adventures.
China is becoming an increasingly popular destination for
British students. Gap year programmes in China might include coaching
sports in Chinese schools, learning kung fu or even teaching English.
Who knows? Perhaps you’ll meet some British gap year
travellers in your home town soon. Don't forget to practice your English with