Thinking of taking a year out? Looking for a life changing experience? This list of the best countries to take a gap year is just what you need!
For the most part, there’s a lot of stuff that happens over the course of a lifetime that is out of our hands. There is a small amount though that we can control. When a chance to do something special comes your way, it’s important to grab it with both hands. Exploring different cultures is something that should be high on nearly everybody’s list of priorities. If it’s something you find yourself thinking about a lot, hopefully this list of the best countries to take a gap year, will push you closer to a truly life changing experience.
There’s a lot to be said for moving to the European mainland and taking advantage of your EU passport. The diversity in cultures that exist in Europe mean that we are spoilt for choice. The focus of this post though will be on destinations a bit further afield….
There is a long standing history of Irish people emigrating to Australia and it is still one of the most popular countries to take a gap year. Cities like Melbourne, Perth and Sydney are full to the brim with Irish people. The chance to explore the Australian outback, work in bars in Byron Bay and explore stunning natural phenomena like the Whitsundays (picture below) are experiences that will never be forgotten.
Canada is a geographical expanse that contains fantastic metropolises such as Montreal, Vancouver and the beautiful capital city of Toronto. This popularity of this friendly nation has surged in recent times as a destination for Irish young people to flock to. There is no shortage of natural beauty to be explored, with Banff National Park and Niagara Falls being just two examples from a seemingly endless list of possibilities for adventure.
3. New Zealand
Peter Jackson movies have truly shone a light on the stunning beauty of New Zealand over the last twenty years. There are certain parts of New Zealand that are as close to fantasy as a person might experience in their lifetime. A country that is again known for it’s friendliness and it’s rugby-mad culture make it a highly appealing country to call home for a year. In terms of population, it is similar in size to Ireland the weather is probably a lot more closer to home than some of the other countries in this list.
4. Costa Rica
This country is truly a tropical paradise. This Central America gem is known for it’s exotic rain forest and picturesque beaches. People who come here usually decide to do so on language programmes or to perhaps volunteer in an animal sanctuary. On top of that, Costa Rica is very popular as a tropical holiday destination. It wouldn’t be the worst thing to be able call this place home for awhile!
China is a global superpower on the rise. As their culture slowly begins to influence the western world more and more, there is a growing trend of Irish people flocking to China to absorb the cultural diversity that exists. The Great Wall of China is centuries old and is marvel to say the least. Cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou are swimming with opportunity for people from all across the world. English is a particularly valuable commodity here and the recent addition of direct flights from Dublin airport has also made it a lot easier for family and friends to visit.
Japan is incredible, simple as! The infrastructure of the main cities are so advanced in comparison to anything you might experience in Ireland. Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama are just a few of the urban centres that are most popular for incoming gap year adventurers. If cities are not your thing then places like Akita will offer you the chance to take in some stunning lakes, hot springs and mountains fit for hiking.
It’s nearly impossible to know where to start when it comes to the USA. Grad Visas or Au Pair programmes will offer you the chance to call “The Land of Opportunity” home for up to one year. From east to west there is so much to love, and if you are lucky enough to be able to take this option, you will be joining millions of Irish who have made a similar journey for as long as it has been possible. It is a fascinating country that holds a special place in a lot of Irish people’s hearts.
Vietnam is a country that allows you to use your English to your advantage. With a simple TEFL qualification in stow, you will have the chance to sample a new culture and also enjoy a rewarding experience teaching Vietnamese children. Locals are extremely receptive to foreign teacher and the friendships that are generated between internationals is something that will last long after the experience has ended. If you have a chance to call Hanoi, Da Nang, or Ho Chi Minh City home, you really shouldn’t let it pass you by.
Argentina is another place that offers Irish people up to the age of 30 the chance to live and work in a different culture for up to 12 months. A country that has a lot more historical roots connecting it to Ireland than you might think, Argentina is also not lacking when it comes to stunning natural beauty. Glaciers and mountain ranges are plentiful in supply.
Cities like Buenos Aires proudly show off their passionate side through means like the Tango and in the world renowned stadiums of Boca Juniors and River Plate. Picking Argentina will also give you the chance to travel to other countries in South America like Brazil, Peru, Chile and of course it is also the gateway to Antartica. There will be plenty of chances for you to take a holiday within your holiday.
10. South Korea
South Korea offers a similar experience to the other Asian countries that have been previously mentioned in this post. Seoul, Daejon and Daegu are urban centres that will allow you to live life at a mile a minute. Korean food, K-Pop and the perpetual buzz that you will find in these places can be infectious in the best way. Places like Seoraksan National Park and Cheonjeyeon Waterfall are spots with undoubted natural beauty and seclusion that will balance out your Korean experience in the best way possible.
There are certain criteria that you will have to meet in order to be able to make these types of trips. These can all be found the Citizens Information website. It is important to thoroughly research what paperwork needs to be done. Once all the red tape is out of the way and you are calling one of these places home, it will have definitely been worth it. Kick-start the rest of your life by choosing one of these best countries to take a gap year.
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