By the time you finish your undergraduate career, you may feel mentally finished with your studies. It’s time to ditch the library, study groups, note-taking and 1000-pound textbooks for the next phase of your life. For many, that’s the route they choose to take. For others, their undergraduate education is just the beginning.
This is especially true for future medical school students. There’s the MCAT, medical school, residency, obtaining a license, the job hunting and so much more. Most medical students will spend the next decade or so preparing themselves for their next career step.
Before diving headfirst into this next part of their lives, some people choose to take a gap year or do something a bit different and off the beaten path. It can be an exciting time of freedom and an unburdened schedule before the next years are locked down.
Whether you are taking a whole year off, a few months or just a few weeks, you should consider traveling. Mark Twain once said “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Travelling Relieves Stress
There’s a reason many people think of a sunny, warm beach or a cool, green forest when they’re trying to relax. Those scenes paint pictures of a worry-free, hassle-free environment where it’s all about you.
Gone are your planners, calendar reminders or constantly beeping phones. In their places are white sand, the sound of the waves and a good book. You’ve just gone through multiple years of schooling, with jobs and internships during the summer. Your time has been on the clock or constantly preparing for something else. It wasn’t the easiest time, but you did it.
Plan that trip with your closest friends or with your family. If it’s more your style, you can always travel alone and completely be on your own schedule and time. Who cares if you stay at the museum for 7 hours looking at some painting? Is anyone going to tell you not spend all day at that cafe, people watching and drinking wine? Why not go zip-lining four times in one day?
It’s a time to indulge and be a little selfish. The past years have been all about getting ahead and making the best application possible. The world won’t end if you’re hiking some mountains for a week.
It Might Be Your Only Time Financially
It should come as a surprise to no one that medical school is quite expensive. Chances are, you’re going to graduate with a load of debt and that’s before you even have a job. The feeling of “I guess I’m an adult now” will only get stronger as you’re figuring out how to pay back your loans or if you’re going to need any other specializations or licenses.
Your gap year travel plan doesn’t have to be grandiose or otherworldly, sometimes the simpler, the better. Don’t feel like you have to hit all the continents within the summer or trek across Mongolia in two weeks. Find something that you enjoy and you know you’ll enjoy and just go do it! You won’t regret taking the time to travel around and explore something new.
You Can Learn About a New Culture or Language
Many countries offer jobs for native-English speakers to travel and teach in English summer camps. This is a great way to travel, earn back a little money and broaden your worldly view for a special 3 in 1 package. Adding a second language, even at a basic level, can be a huge boost to not only your personal trips, but to your professional life.
Take the Spanish language for example. Spanish is the fastest growing language in the United States and the country currently has more Spanish speakers than Spain, the second most populated Spanish-speaking country in the world behind Mexico. While you may not become fluent in your travels, you could solidify the basics or learn some key grammar points. Combine that with a little bit of medical Spanish studying and you could add a key point to your resume.
There are countless programs based all around the world that offer not only English-teaching opportunities but volunteer opportunities, working as an au pair and much more. So take some time to explore, learn and come back with brand new experiences. Who knows? You may be able to make the world’s best pasta bolognese or impress your friends with your new language skills.