After the hard, exhausting years of your school career which is finished by graduating with your A - Level certificate, you are on a point where there is a clear separation visible. Either you are part of those students who already know if there are going to study a specific subject or not or you can be counted with those who do not know where their life is going on now. An explanation for this is that while going to school, all students have a certain structure to follow, for instance, waking up every day, learning for tests or submit presentations etc., but after the time is over, their routine they are used to is now gone and this is the time to define oneself and your future.
Those who know what is following after the A - Levels mostly start studying in a university or doing apprenticeship.
The others have many options to choose depending on if they want to stay in their home country or not. The “home stayers“ either start working regularly, do an internship or do a volunteering. Some even start studying anything without visiting the lecture, just to keep the child benefit paid.
The second half is ready to explore the world after years living in the same environment. Common programs are Work & Travel in countries like Australia and New Zealand, Au-pair in the US for example or travel as itself. For a short term abroad, options like language course are quite often chosen. As the less known possibility, the volunteering outside of Germany is following in the list with programs as the European Solidarity Corps, weltwärts (continents in the third world) or the international youth volunteering service.
What all the options have in common, are the reasons for a year off:
- Many people just do not feel like going back to university and start learning, writing exams and so on after 12 years of school. Rather take a break to recover from these years by getting to know new places through traveling, for example and live life to the fullest with making unforgettable memories, stories and adventures.
- Close to point one, is to take oneself time to think and reflect how your (job) career and your plans for other fields should look like. Like do I want to move out as fast as possible or save the rent instead to own an apartment.. Thinking about possible studies instead of just study anything can save money, time and unhappiness as you are going with concrete plans back to university.
- To gain experience by leaving comfort zone, like managing your financial situation alone which was before taken care of your parents.
- As those who can offer to travel, have the opportunity to widen his horizons by discovering what the world has to offer. On the other side, you get to know that not all people are used to a life like yours back at home, but are still living their life happy.
- Further, it let’s your CV shine more and distinguish from others by proving the ability to cooperate with different cultures. As we live in a more and more connected world, being aware and accepting other customs and culture is incredibly important.
Discover hidden passions as you are able to test different hobbies.
But why should a volunteering rather be considered instead of the common programs, although they have obviously the same motives for the students doing it?
- Volunteering brings in connection with other people in a community and make changes by giving an impact. In doing so, you get to have the opportunity to meet and make new friends which expands your network. And as mostly many know a wide network can be really helpful in some situation and gain more importance in our actual world.
- Moreover, you are able to learn new or increase your social and relationship skills as you work regularly with a group with different characteristics and will have it easier and easier to get in touch with others.
- Another great advantage regarding to your future career, is the point that through volunteering as an unpaid work, it can teach your valuable job skills, for example, if you are in an old people’s home, you can develop empathy or patient skills. In addition to that, volunteering offers you a chance trying out new careers without being committed.
- What many do not know is that, volunteering provides a lot of benefits for your mental and physical health, since it works against stress, anger and anxiety by having social contacts or working with pets. Besides, researches have found out by measuring hormones and brain activity that being helpful to others reveals huge pleasure, so the more we give, the happier we feel.
Let’s go to actual topic of this report as it is also the headline.
When I arrived here in Spain at my placement, the teenager were curious about me as I was a new person working in the youth center. Therefore, I got asked quite often where I am from and how old I am. As I replied that I am a German and 18 years old, the young people were so stunned. And why? Because first I was a muslim German black born girl (known as a rich country) and didn’t move to the country after born in Africa and second I was just 18 years old, nearly at the same age of the most teenagers. In contrast to them, I already have my A - Levels just before coming here and thinking that I am already studying, whereas they are still doing it or other qualifications. Never will it occur in their mind to doing a gap year after their bachillerat, since they do not really know what options are and more important, it is just not usual to do it. Rather after having a bachelor, but even then the percentage of students going abroad it is quite low. That is why volunteer from other countries are way older than 18 years, mostly already in their 20s.
Where is the problem in this system then? It is not the lack of advertisement and information; there are provided quite a lot. In my town, there is even an office for any doubts or questions besides the information points in the universities. My theory is that the people here think they will be behind in university and are not determined to leave their comfort zone. But that is one subject I want to get more about it.