While the British upper crust has to deal with the tedium of picking the correct hat to wear to a horse derby, their youngin’s have something that desperately needs to catch on with the slightly, and more so, well to-do (or well-connected) young folks in this country: The Gap Year.
The idea behind the gap year is …okay, let me be lazy:
The term gap year (also known as “year out”, “deferring”, “Overseas Experience”) refers to a prolonged period (often, but not always, a year) between a student’s completion of secondary school and matriculation in a university or college or also between college and graduate school or a profession.
Sure, but pray tell Wikipedia, where did it come from?
Gap years, which became prevalent in the 1990s, could be considered a modern equivalent of the Grand Tour. At least in the UK, part of the impetus came from the fact that until recently Oxford and Cambridge required candidates to take their own entrance exams in the Autumn, after “A” levels. When the exams were over, the student had about nine months before starting University, and it was encouraged to take the time to explore the world or volunteer before doing so.
Thank you, Wikipedia.
I’ve been thinking I have a year before I can’t hide from the “real” world any longer. What I do I do instead? Find other ways to prolong the baptism! For all my forays into the greatness that is procrastination, I might actually be contemplating some reality. But at this point, only at a year or so increments. Hence, I’m looking for my gap year experience.
I’ve thought that at the end of next year, with a fine and shiny MA under my belt – which at its core is still just an high falutin’ English degree nevermind the terminology and rhetoric (Ha!) – more than anything I would like to have options. I would like to have a boatload of options that I can swill around in my margarita glass and hope the solution becomes a mite clearer once I’ve hit the bottom.
What are some of the things I’ve been contemplating so far? Here are a couple:
- Un – Given family matters, the possibility exists that I have a cheap and easy option to go to Germany. Could I whore myself out as a nearly certified English teacher for a couple of months and/or do a little sight-seeing? Naturally!
- Dos – I am relatively serious, as serious as I ever get about things that take committment (that being a whole other ungainly story) about studying Chinese and I wouldn’t mind teaching English in China. Broadening my horizons, eating some excellent food, experiencing a communist state to better apprecatiate our…well, nevermind.
- Drei – Take an internship. I’ve debated the Student Conservation Association, essentially meaning that I would be a ranger. I’d have to work on my wholesomeness appeal I’m sure, but you know what, it just sounds like fun. Or I could grow some and actually just go a Pagan retreat. D, you coming?
- Chetyre – Take a technical writing job in a bigger city. I have a degree that could get me a high paying job in a large city. Who’d a thunk that? Maybe I could try the traditional route.
I’ve been going to school for a long time. On the one hand, I’m very glad that I’ve gotten where I am at the age that I’m at, on the other hand, there was something about oats…and mending them? Stitching them? Or something? (Ed. note: That’s a joke.) And I never really got around to that. I think also that my nomadic upbringing is now infused in my blood and settling down might be difficult.
And lastly, from snooping around the gap year entry at Wikipedia, it said that the gap year is a sort of derivative of The Grand Tour that was popular because Locke said that experience was a tactile thing. So, the brats were sent over the pond to see the not-quite-heathens that were the mainlanders. Thusly, fun stereotypes were born:
The Grand Tour was said to re-enforce the old preconceptions and prejudices about national characteristics, as Jean Gailhard’s Compleat Gentleman (1678) observes: “French courteous. Spanish lordly. Italian amorous. German clownish.”
That explains a lot.
[Also: Far be it from me to say that Wikipedia is wrong, *cough*, and I really am not the historian in the making for all the Archive work, but wasn’t it still Prussia then?]