I Took a Break from University and Discovered my Passion for Travel

I wanted to talk about this topic because taking study breaks are sometimes seen as a taboo. The norm that is expected is that you just go to Uni and get a degree. I mean – it cannot be that hard right? We are constantly being told that you must run and sprint in your 20s to a point it feels like a competition. Believe me, I have been there.

I used to look at my uni schedule and nothing excited me. I have thought about dropping out but it felt too indefinite. The sheer thought that my life would look like this made me feel hopeless: Go to uni > Get a job > Get married > Start a family > Grow old. Thinking about it still does. I mean – When do I get to travel and explore the world? When do I get to try out new things? When will I have a conservancy and care for animals?

What if there is something stopping you from sprinting head first into that degree. Taking a break can give you valuable insight into this. It could confirm your doubts or reaffirm your passion for your degree. I thought I’d share my reasons and help anyone who is thinking about taking a break. Shall we?

My reasons to take a break from Uni

Having degree doubts and feeling burnt out

On my way to University, I would get really anxious and I did not know why? I would be listening to a lecture and my body would be aching to walk out of the classroom. It did not make any sense, I was passing all my classes, keeping up with my assignments and on my way to getting really good grades.

I recall getting nauseous and I would start sweating profusely. I was getting headaches every other day. It got to a point that thinking about my degree would give me anxiety attacks. I started questioning the degree that I was taking and wondering if I should study something else instead or just drop out. I could not find even one degree that excited me.

A different opportunity

One thing that really tipped the boat for me was that I got an opportunity that excited me. I got accepted into a volunteer program in Canada that made me feel happy and thrilled. Deep down, I knew that turning it down would be something that I would deeply regret.

I weighed the advantages of staying in school to taking a break from uni. With the information presented to me at the time, going to Canada had way more advantages. Looking back, I would still choose to take a break from Uni. I learnt so much in my time there that I found myself wanting to go back year after year. I made amazing friends, gained invaluable skills and created priceless memories with LJ.

The Travel Bug

I always wanted to travel. The urge to travel really kicked in after high school.While in class, I would dream about all the places I could be at that given moment. I read articles about how to make money while travelling. I finally made a decision to let the bug free. What made it even more exciting was that my volunteer opportunity was also an opportunity for me to travel.

someone on a kite over mountains
Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

How to tell your parents that you want to take a break from Uni

This was not the easiest conversation to have. I might have hit the jackpot with my mum. I chose a good time to bring the conversation up and talked her through my reasons. My advice to you is that if you are in a similar situation come up with a plan of what you intend to do when you take a break. This will help your parents feel more at ease knowing that the time spent outside uni will be used to gain valuable experiences and skills.

What the experts think

If you have had this conversation with your parents, it is likely that they immediately wanted you to finish your degree. Here is what experts think. (Info from The American Gap Association)

  • about 90% of students who take a break return to school and usually obtain higher grades than their peers.
  • 75% of students feel that the experience they gained helped them get a job.
  • US News and World Report says that students who take break return to school more confident and motivated.

If you plan you time off uni well, the experience gained will give you an advantage both in the classroom and the professional world. Its pretty hard to argue with that.

How to deal with people’s opinions on your decision

a lady whispering something in someone's ear
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Letting other people in on your decision to take a break can be difficult. You cannot control what they are going to think or make them understand why you need to take a break. One thing that helps is remembering why you are choosing to take a break. Eventually people will come around. I have gotten so many questions from people asking for advice on how to take a break. Making this choice definitely strengthened my decision-making muscles.

If this is something that you would want to have a chat about, kindly contact me here or reach out on Instagram.

Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else

Judy Garland

Advantages of taking a break from Uni

  • Travel – Your 20s are definitely one of the sweet spots in life where you have the freedom to explore.
  • Discover your passion – Taking the time to try out something new might spark something. I discovered my passion for animal welfare through taking a break. LJ discovered that he loved flying.
  • Real-life experience – Spending your break working in the industry that you are studying in will help you determine if you want to keep studying the same degree and give you the ‘work experience’ every employer asks for. There are tons of opportunities available to gain experience in your chosen field, all while traveling too.
  • Responsibility – Planning a road trip while living in a foreign country definitely taught LJ and I a thing or two about living alone and budgeting. Having to file taxes after is definitely something they do not teach you in school, nor is dealing with lost luggage and missed flights.

lady walking through a camping concert
Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash
  • Networking – I have made so many friends and colleagues from all over the world that I would not ordinarily have made.
  • Open your mind – Living with people from different cultures will open your mind and broaden your understanding of other ways of life.
  • School will always be there – while uni will not be on your mind as you explore the pyramids, you can always come back from a year of adventure and pick up right where you left off. However trying to go sky diving on campus might not be that easy to do.
  • The FOMO ends – You will feel like you will miss out on a lot by taking a break from uni but the minute you open the door to new experiences or step on that plane, all of it disappears. My FOMO disappeared the minute I stepped foot in Canada and never came back.

Famous people who took a break from Uni

You might feel like you are the first person to ever make such a decision but your are not. In the UK alone over 5 Million students are planning on taking break every year. Here are some noteworthy people who took a break from uni.

book of Steve Jobs
Photo by AB on Unsplash
  • Elon Musk – atook a break from uni and went to Canada. He worked some pretty odd jobs.
  • Steve Jobs – Unsure of his passion, Steve spent a year in India meditating and on returning home, he changed the world of technology. Yup! Apple might not have existed if he did not take a year off in India. Mark Zuckerberg did it too!
  • JK Rowling – On her break, she wrote the novel Harry Potter, can you imagine a world only full of Muggle-borns? me neither

Why you should not take a break from Uni

While taking a break from Uni is full of benefits, they only work if you plan your break well. Please do not take a break from Uni to sit at home watching Netflix and ordering from Uber Eats.

  • Boredom – Try exploring new hobbies and talents while sticking to uni. Please note boredom is not to be confused with burnout.
  • Social life – Are you finding it difficult to make friends? Are your parents constantly pressuring you to study? Going through a break up? or maybe your friends betrayed you? Taking a break from uni because it interferes with your ‘fun’ is not a good enough reason.
couple walking on a road during winter
Photo by John O’Nolan on Unsplash

Resources for your time off University

If you would like to take a break from uni and are not sure what you would like to do, check out GoAbroad. They have got a wealth of opportunities from gap year programs to volunteer and internship opportunities.

Do remember that sometimes the right decisions happen to be the hardest to make. I wish you all the best of luck in your decision. If you would like to know more about my experience kindly subscribe to our newsletter. Thank you for reading, till next next time, love and love.

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