Hello and welcome to my brand new blog!
My name is Sarah, and I graduated from the University of Bristol in July (in French and Philosophy BA, if you were wondering). I toyed with taking a gap year before I went to university; but it was never a serious idea as nearly all of my friends were going straight to uni, and travelling alone was something that I would never have considered. In 2014/15, as part of my degree, I was lucky enough to live in Toulouse for 11 months. As an Erasmus student, I had a lot of free time and developed what some (looking at you, Instagram) might call ‘#wanderlust’. It was during that period that I first started taking solo trips and removing my own mental stigma of going it alone. I saw a lot of Europe, developed a bit of a travel bug, and decided once and for all that I would take a gap year after I graduated – hence the name grad gap year.
My gap year: short explanation
The time that I’m taking out in between graduation and a grad job roughly equates to: working in Spain-travelling in South America-working in the UK-travelling in South East Asia.
My gap year: long explanation
As a standard rule, it seems that gap years involve working non-stop in any kind of job for a few months in order to earn money for later adventures. I took a slightly alternative route and instead undertook an internship in Malaga, Spain, for 6 months. My motivations for this were mixed. I loved living in France and completely accredit that time as to being the reason why I now speak French (as opposed the 3 other years of degree-level study!), and I also wanted to learn Spanish (to make myself more employable, and to get the most out of my South American trip). So, I knew the best way to achieve this goal would be to get myself to Spain. Furthermore, if I were to spend 6 months working, I wanted it to be an experience that would give me some direction for graduate jobs, and enhance my CV: no one wants to wash up to the shores of employment empty-handed but freshly bronzed from a few months of travelling! So an internship it was. This turned out to be a great decision for me, as I ended up working in digital marketing at a Spanish language school, which was not only hugely varied and interesting but aligned well with my own long-term goals – and is also a motivation behind this blog!
Nevertheless, choosing an internship rather than a job was a big decision, as while I gained more professionally (in my opinion), I obviously had to forfeit earning enough to finance my upcoming travels. Fortunately, my internship paid enough to cover my rent in Spain, and I also was able to receive some funding as part of a trial graduate Erasmus scheme at Bristol. Long live Erasmus (although who knows how long that will be for us now that Brexit is looming)! However, this does mean that the first part of my travels will be financed from my savings from various summers spent working over the last few years. As a consequence, I decided not to do a round-the-world style of travel and instead am splitting my ‘gap yah travels’ into two segments – Latin America from the end of March to the start of June, then working all summer in order to finance my next project, which is South East Asia for three months at the end of 2017. Sooo.. I guess it’s more of a ‘gap year and a half’!
In this blog…
Writing here, I intend to document my South American travels, and later those in Asia too. These will provisionally take the form of diary posts – especially since I’ll be doing it along the way on my phone. However, I’m thinking about maybe eventually shaping them into some helpful tips for future fellow ‘grad gap yahs’. On that note, I’m also hoping to later inject some posts about living in France, Spain, and just general travel advice and pearls of wisdom that my 23-year-old self may or may not have any business handing out, but there we go!
Thanks for reading, and – at risk of sounding highly cliché – I hope you’ll enjoy the journey along the way with me!