Should I take a break after graduation

Gap Year: Time out after graduation

When graduation approaches, the question of how to proceed afterwards becomes more pressing again. Many have not yet had time to deal intensively with their wishes and goals for the future. A Gap year seems tempting: just take a year off. This gives you the time you need to explore yourself and the world and find out what really matters to you. We will show you the advantages of the gap year, what options you have and where you can find further information ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what is a gap year?

Gap year means Gap year and represents a consciously inserted break. This is often between high school and starting your career inserted. A gap year after graduation or between Bachelor and Master is also possible.

It originally comes from England and is now also very popular in Germany. It enables young people to disconnect from their own Dreams and goals thinking and trying.

For many who are just 18 years old after graduating from high school, the decision about their future comes too early. Most of the time they don't feel ready for this far-reaching decision hold true. You need some time for yourself first.

And that's exactly what it's all about: The gap year is by no means meant to be twelve months of lazing around. But anyone who immediately rushes to apply after school, starts the next best apprenticeship or the next best course of study, quickly finds oneself in a hamster wheel Needs and expectations again without having to clear your head to be clear about your own wishes.

The gap year gives you time to think. Important questions are:

  • How can this time be used?
  • What are the alternatives?

We introduce you to the following three options ahead and show you how your Take advantage of the gap year can…

2 questions to ask yourself beforehand

Before you start your gap year, you should take the time to clarify two important questions in advance. These benefit the organization, but they are also important to help you make the most of your time and to be able to look back with satisfaction in the end.

  • What is your destination?

    What do you want to achieve in your gap year? Personal growth, learning a new language, self-confidence or a better view of the future are just some of the countless goals that can be very individual.

    It is only important that you know these goals and are aware of them - this is the only way to achieve and implement them.

  • What does the financing look like?

    Not a nice topic that you just can't avoid. Your gap year has to be paid for. In some variants, you earn money or support during your stay, foreign student loans or loans are also possible.

    The question of financing should be tackled as early as possible, as further planning may have to be adjusted accordingly.

Gap year variant 1: Gathering international experience

Numerous high school graduates are drawn abroad after school. Leave the usual hometown and culture area and new experiences in a foreign culture collect. Become more independent, see something of the world and learn a new language - these are the reasons why high school graduates are drawn abroad. But here, too, the offer is diverse:

  • Work and travel

    To travel to a foreign land take jobs there and travel on the wages and explore the country. This is how Work & Travel works. Popular countries for this are Australia, New Zealand and Canada. But it's not that simple, because the jobs are not for the faint of heart.

    It's a popular job fruit picking, in which organs, apples and other fruits are picked in a chord. Farmwork may need to milk cows and repair fences. Anyone who decides to work on ranches and plantations should look to hard work to adjust.

    The advantages, however, are that you are paid for the work you have done and can thus partially finance the stay on site. Often times, work gives you one too particularly good insight into the way of life in other culturesinstead of just traveling as a tourist.

    You can also read about this:

  • AU Pair

    An au pair supports the host family in the household and looks after the children. In return, you receive free board and lodging as well as a small amount of pocket money. As a rule, you work 30 hours a week and are entitled to 1.5 days off per week as well as paid vacation. Most of the au pairs also attend a language course.

    The individual household chores that one undertakes depend on the family. These range from childcare, shopping, cooking and cleaning. Become an au pair also made some conditionsA school leaving certificate, a good language level and, in particular, experience in the field are particularly important.

    Through the daily and intensive contact and life in a host family During this time you usually build close relationships on site. Because of the accommodation and meals, an au pair stay is associated with lower costs. You can find more information on the website of

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  • Volunteering

    Who himself get involved socially and support charitable projects would like to become active as a volunteer. The programs “weltwärts” and “kulturweit” offer the opportunity to get involved in animal shelters, orphanages or schools, for example.

    The “Kulturweit” program makes it possible to work in foreign offices of UNESCO or the Goethe-Institut. You are not paid for your work, but the funded programs help you To make the stay possible in the first place and to provide on-site support.

    Further information can be found on the websites of or

  • Language trip

    If you want to concentrate fully on learning a language, you should go on a language trip. You dedicate yourself to a course lasting several weeks intensively developing your own language skills. Often you acquire a language certificate after the course.

    However, most are offers very expensive and cost 2,000 to 3,000 euros for just four weeks. In addition, you hardly have any contact with locals during the time, but spend most of the time in the course association. Further information can be found on the website of and (Association of German Language Travel Organizers).

    Tips for experience abroad

    You have decided on a time abroad, but now you are faced with the problem that you do not know where to go? Understandable question, because soon several factors play a role in this decision. On the one hand, of course, you want to get to know a foreign country, explore a culture and meet new people.

    It is best to follow your interests here. Which country are you interested in? Which Culture fascinates You? In this way you can narrow down the selection of countries. However, the stay abroad must also be financed.

    So that the costs don't get over your head, we will show you below nine cheap travel destinations:

    Pokhara, Nepal

    The city is located almost exactly in the geographical center of the country and is one of the first port of call for many tourists. Pokhara is located in a beautiful landscape with the second largest lake in Nepal on one side and a mountain range on the other side of the city. However, between June and September, heavy and persistent rainfall can be expected - monsoons! Plan your trip accordingly.

    Hanoi, Vietnam

    The capital of the country is in the north and, as the name Hanoi - city within the rivers - suggests, lies in the Red River delta. In summer temperatures over 30 degrees are the order of the day. The perfect conditions for visiting the sights and exploring the old town. Don't miss out on trying the local cuisine!

    Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

    Many still use the old name Saigon known, is the largest city in Vietnam with more than 7 million inhabitants in the south of the country. With a multitude of museums, theaters and markets, there is always something to see. In the warm summer months, the Mekong Delta to the south is definitely worth a trip.

    Goa, India

    Goa is not a city, but the smallest state in India, which consists of a large number of smaller cities. It is located on the west coast of India and with its tropical climate has guaranteed very warm temperatures all year round. The main travel season is between November and March, with prices in the hotels being higher than usual between Christmas and New Year.

    Kathmandu, Nepal

    With around 1 million inhabitants, the capital of Nepal is also the largest city in the country. A trip is not only worthwhile to see Mount Everest. The city itself with its many Hindu and Buddhist temples also offers many possibilities.

    Chiang Mai, Thailand

    The second largest city in Thailand with almost 150,000 inhabitants is located in the north-west of the country at the foot of a mountain. In addition to the beautiful location, there are almost 200 Buddhist temples in the old town as well as countless restaurants and street vendors who convince with Thai specialties.

    Vientiane, Laos

    The capital of Laos is a popular travel destination because of its relaxed atmosphere. With many temples and old French colonial buildings there is always something to see. The recommended travel time is between November and February, as the temperatures are a little milder during this time and you can avoid the long rainy season in these months.

    La Paz, Bolivia

    La Paz is already something special because of its location at an altitude of more than 3000 meters. This also ensures that the climatic conditions are almost the same throughout the year. Travelers have a large number of museums but also the opportunity to take a tour to Lake Titicaca, which is south of the city.

    Quito, Ecuador

    The capital of the country is in the north and is only about 20 kilometers below the equator. The weather is spring-like all year round with temperatures just under 20 degrees. Many travelers also use Quito as a starting point for a tour to the Galapagos Islands.

    If you toy with the thought, your Gap year abroad we also recommend these items:

Gap year variant 2: Gaining practical experience

This is a classic for the gap year Gaining work experience. If you are unsure about your future career aspirations, you can use the break to explore some professional fields and find out whether there is something suitable for you.

  • The voluntary social year: FSJ

    The concept has been around for over 50 years. 40,000 places are given to committed young people every year. The FSJ offers volunteers the opportunity to stand up for their fellow human beings and society.

    As an interested find a recognized carrier, for example an association or a social institution, and apply. As a rule, special qualifications are not required. Personal motivation is important. You can find more information on, the website of the Federal Working Group Voluntary Social Year.

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  • The voluntary ecological year: FÖJ

    In principle, the FÖJ works in the same way as the FSJ, only the area of ​​application is different. It says here Commitment to environmental and nature protection in the foreground. Possible jobs are landscape associations, nature conservation parks, forests and nature conservation associations. You can find more information on the website, the Federal Working Group for the Voluntary Ecological Year.

  • The Federal Voluntary Service: BFD

    The BFD or, affectionately known as Bufdi, voluntary service is a relatively new concept that was only introduced in the past decade. Three years later there were already 40,000 places for volunteers. It was introduced primarily as a Replacement for community service. As with the FSJ, different projects and institutions can be supported. Here is one too short-term entry possible. Further information can be found on the website of the Federal Office for Family and Civil Society Tasks.

  • internship

    An internship is ideal for those who already have an idea of ​​the direction in which they should go. This gives you the opportunity to get to know the job better and get one Insight into everyday work to obtain.

    If possible, the internship should be included take longer than a few weeks. This is the only way to really get to know the work or to familiarize yourself with a project, instead of just watching and more or less being left out.

    In this article you will find what you should pay attention to when choosing an internship and what rights you are entitled to.

    You can also read about this:

Gap Year Variant 3: The study on trial

The Studium Generale offers the opportunity to sniff university air before deciding what to study. It refers to Courses that are open to the public for everyone. They are organized by universities in addition to the courses on offer. The special program includes events from a wide variety of specialist areas.

In addition, there are also special programs that Orientation and decision support should give to study. One such program is this Studium Generale at the Leibniz College in Tübingen or at the Salem College. But this guide is associated with costs that should not be underestimated. A year of study at the Leibniz Kolleg costs around 4,700 euros.

You can also read about this:

Advantages and disadvantages of the gap year

Anyone who is considering taking a gap year after graduating from high school has usually 12 or 13 years of school behind them. So it was a long time in which a routine was established and the processes were clear. In this respect, a gap year is a Jump into the cold water, because what to expect now is unclear.

For those of you who are not sure whether or not you have one Time out is something for you, we have put together the advantages and disadvantages of a gap year:

Advantages of the gap year

  • self reflection

    The Gap Years offers the chance to think about some fundamental questions and still further answer open questions:

    • I would like to?
    • What else is there?
    • What am I capable of?
    • What am I interested in?
    • What do I have?

    Very few are really sure what they want to do with their lives later. A gap year can help you get a better picture of what you want to do over the next few years or maybe even decades. It helps to think outside the box, to try something new and unknown. You have the opportunity to test your limits and get to know your strengths and weaknesses.

    Perhaps you did not even know how much you care about foreign languages, working with children or engaging in nature projects. When you try it out, you can quickly see whether something suits you. Simple internships are often insufficient in time and too many different internships can be negatively interpreted in the résumé. And last but not least, the distance from home helps to be clear about what counts in life and what you can do without.

  • contacts

    You get to know new people, possibly new cultures. The exchange promotes your social skills, which often leads to long-term friendships. At the same time, you expand your network, which can later pay off in your job.

  • independence

    For the first time away from home for a long time, having to organize everything yourself (at least on site) is significantly more than many are used to during their school days. Those who have never had to face real challenges often underestimate themselves and do not even know what they are really capable of. Only when it matters and when you are challenged can you surpass yourself. That in turn gives you confidence.

  • experience

    You gain a lot of experience. Depending on the area in which you are active, these will be useful later in your job. In any case, you can demonstrate that you have organized a year independently and on your own responsibility and - depending on the case - have acquired new language skills and other skills.

Disadvantages of the gap year

  • Loss of time

    The gap year does not necessarily have to last a year, ultimately it is about a longer period of time that can be used for self-reflection. This is also a disadvantage because you will lose time.In this country, gaps in the résumé in the work biography are not exactly rated positively.

    However, you can compensate for this initial disadvantage, because it depends on What You did in time. Even if reflection is an important part of this time, you should make sure that you can then come up with something tangible and respond to the question "What did you do during that time?" Not "Playstation played" have to answer.

  • Homesickness

    Those who go abroad for a longer period for the gap year often realize how much they miss family and friends. Thanks to WhatsApp, Skype and Co., it is usually much easier to maintain contact, but real meetings are still something different than phone calls.

  • expenditure

    Even if you consider one of our favorable tips for your gap year abroad: This break is usually associated with a lot of effort. This applies to both the organization stress factor and financing.

Organization: Planning the gap year

Anyone who decides on a gap year should choose accordingly take care of it early. This is especially true if you want to go abroad.

The Organization of a gap year includes:

  • Destination Country: Where should it go?
  • Shape: What kind of gap year should it be?
  • Formalia: Do I need a visa and / or other proof (vaccinations) for my plans to go abroad?
  • Pads: Most gap year programs have an age range of 18 to a maximum of 35 years.
  • Finances: Is the funding guaranteed, are there any savings or support through a scholarship?
  • Flights: Are flights available / booked in that time, have these expenses been factored in?
  • Accommodation: Where will you be staying?

For such considerations there are organizations that focus on this particular Specialized stays abroad to have. The advantage is that they have built up a network over the years. They have contacts in all possible countries and areas and know who to contact depending on the customer.


Those who organize themselves start from scratch and do their research first. It is correspondingly easy to find yourself in the To get lost in information overload. If you are interested, you can save yourself a lot of nerves and time with an organization. Of course, this service is not free.

Unfortunately, no general statements can be made about the costs, which is why we give a few examples below. Just so much in advance: The prices depend on the duration and the target countries as well as the packages booked in addition, for insurance or language courses, for example. Flights are the biggest cost factor, especially for more distant destinations.

Examples and providers

  • Farm stay

    A three-month stay in Argentina, including four weeks on a farm, including visa and flights, currently costs 2,240 euros at There is an option to book the package without flights for 1,070 euros. If you want to do the whole thing in Australia, you pay slightly less at 2,170 euros (or 1,050 euros without flights).

    Who about Farm work If you book a stay in New Zealand, you can choose to spend your gap year on a sheep or cattle farm or help out in vineyards or an orchard. Here the packages start from 990 euros.

    You can book an eight-week farm stay in Chile including a language course (but with self-catering!) For 2,020 euros at

    As a tip, we advise you to look out for organizations that have been in the market for a while - this is obvious Customer satisfaction so big that the company has existed for a long time.

    Also an indication of seriousness: Transparency in prices. What are the costs and what services do they include? You should clarify these questions before you start your gap year.

  • Voluntary service

    Saving street dogs in Romania or researching dolphins in Croatia - voluntary service abroad can be in the area of Environmental protection be located. You can just as easily choose cultural or social institutions.

    For example, if you are discussing topics such as European identity and rural development in Armenia at a non-governmental organization. Or you take part in a youth initiative in Russia that is committed to supporting democratic values ​​and lifelong learning.

    Incidentally, the European Voluntary Service (EVS) runs through the Erasmus + program, which means that it is financed by the countries of the EU and participating partner countries.
    More information on sending organizations can be found in the European Youth Portal database.

How to deal with the gap in the resume?

The turning of the grammar school years from nine (G9) to eight (G8) school years led to a faster graduation. The Bologna Process aims at the same with its Conversion of university degrees to Bachelor or Master.

As a result, the course not only became significantly more school-leaved. Due to the rigid design it inhibits students more from trying out certain areas.
The changes are bringing out younger graduates. At the same time, they lack life experience.

So whoever decides on a gap year only depends on the time that previous generations had anyway and deliberately. Seen in this way, it is not a classic gap in the résumé.

Especially since a planned gap year deserves respect in several ways: Even if you do not organize everything yourself, but fall back on an organization: For example, anyone who goes to work abroad shows that they can find their way in a foreign environment with unfamiliar requirements.

Voluntary work is usually also welcome, after all, you show your sense of social commitment and can demonstrate important soft skills such as teamwork, a sense of responsibility or organizational skills.

This is exactly what you should emphasize and formulate in your application: Show that you have not just wasted your time, but rather gained valuable experience and gained intercultural competence to have.

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September 2, 2020Author: Nils Warkentin

Nils Warkentin studied business administration at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen. On the career bible, he is devoted to topics related to studies, career entry and everyday office life.

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