By Lan Ting (藍婷)
A gap year is an experiential semester or year. There are different kinds of gap years. In Western countries, young people would take a year off between high school and college in order to deepen practical, professional, and personal awareness. In Taiwan, many college students go on a ‘working holiday’ or join overseas volunteers; some people would go abroad to study after working for a few years.
Under the educational system in Taiwan, a lot of students don’t know their life goals. Students often judge the university just by the scores. “Clearly set the goal and don’t blindly make a decision,” said Wang Shu-yun （王淑雲）, the Future Career Development Department’s （生涯發展組） leader in Shih Hsin University （世新大學）. It’s important to know what you want to learn and strive for the goal. If you don’t think clearly about what you really want, it’s probably still a waste of your time in a different environment.
“Taiwan’s government should provide more specific assistance,” said Chen Jhong-shih （陳忠世）, who works in International Education Expert Union Counseling（留學家國際教育諮詢中心）. For example, in Korea, gap years were already common about ten years ago. The Korean government subsidizes university students to go to Western countries — encourages them to study languages when they are in the third grade. It will not only improve young people’s language skills, but also help them see more clearly their own future direction.
No matter which types of gap year you choose, it should be able to have some benefits of life experiences. When you are in a foreign country, it’s important to be open minded to explore the world. Try to step out of the comfort zone and think about the purpose of your life. It is the most positive meaning of a gap year!