Create Your Own Gap Year

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  • Overview

    A gap year is a transformative 12 months dedicated to cultivating personal and professional growth. Often, a gap year is taken after high school or prior to beginning a career or post-secondary education. Many students fill this year with traveling, volunteering, working abroad, learning a new language, or a mash-up of a few of these options!  

    The beauty of a gap year is that it is highly customizable and personal; the possibilities are endless! Many gap year programs don’t span a full year abroad, so this leaves you with extra time to fill with meaningful personal projects. When thinking about taking a gap year, consider what you are looking to accomplish and then start crafting your year abroad!  

    Our gap programs range from as little as a few weeks to a full 12 months.  Here are some examples of just a few of the programs you can pair together to create your ideal gap year! 

    Get the Full Spanish-Language Immersion Experience! 

    Work in Argentina + Attend a Language Camp in Costa Rica + Study in Argentina  

     Work and Study in the Land Down Under! 

    Study in New ZealandWork & Travel in Australia  

    Expand Your Horizons! 

    Attend a Language Camp in JapanStudy in the NetherlandsTeach in a Homestay South Korea  

  • Eligibility

    Traditionally, gap years have been accepted as a rite of passage for recent high school graduates. Today, we find that recent high school graduates, current university students, recent university graduates, and even young adults looking to step away from the corporate world are taking gap years!  

    Generally speaking, our gap year programs are created to accommodate travelers between the ages of 17-24 from the following citizenship countries:  

    • United States 
    • United Kingdom 
    • Canada 
    • Ireland 
    • Australia 
    • New Zealand 
    • European Union* 

    While visiting our gap year program pages, be sure to visit the eligibility page to review program-specific eligibility requirements. You’ll find that each program has different requirements!  

    *Visa restrictions may apply based on your citizenship country. Please inquire with a program manager at travelapplications@greenheart.org to learn more about the visa requirements that need to be met to participate in the gap year program.  

  • Program Dates

    Program dates will vary based on the individual program, but these are some general guidelines for start dates. Note that most programs require that gap year travelers turn in their applications and complete their interviews at least 2-3 months before the program start date listed on our website.  

    Work Abroad: Traditionally we offer one start date monthly.  

    Teach English in a Homestay:  Two start dates are offered every month.  

    High School Abroad (College track program)High school abroad programs have varying lengths and start dates depending on the destination country and the season.  In general, European destinations begin in August or September for the Fall start dates and in January or February for Spring start dates. Destinations in the Southern Hemispheres start in July for the Fall start date and February-March for the spring start date.

    Language Camps:  Start dates are on Mondays throughout the summer (and winter for programs in Spain and Japan). 

  • Costs and Inclusions

    As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, we keep our program costs as low as possible. Program fees are associated with tangible inclusions such as travel medical insurance, arrival orientations, airport pick-up, support staff, host family search and vetting, and emergency support.  

    Our program durations vary from as little as a few weeks to a full 12 months. Program prices range from $1,140 to $15,410. Please review individual program pages for detailed breakdowns of costs and inclusions.  

  • Gap Year Benefits

    The increased popularity of the gap year can be attributed to many things! Lots of research credits gap years to tangible work and academic growth such as learning a new language or international work experience, but there is also much to be said about the personal benefits that a gap year program can supply. Gap years allow for students to re-evaluate their goals, obtain a new perspective of the world, learn about new cultures, make friends from diverse backgrounds, and learn more about themselves.  

    A list of gap year benefits is listed below—though it isn’t exhaustive! 

    Academic & Work Benefits 

    • Learn additional languages 
    • Gain international work experience 
    • Develop problem-solving skills 
    • Identify interests to better select university studies/career industries   
    • Increase employability  
    • Inspire insightful topics for college admissions essays 
    • Establish cross-cultural communication skills  
    • Decrease chances of academic burnout  

    Personal Benefits 

    • Boost self-confidence  
    • Gain life experience 
    • Evaluate personal values 
    • Explore comfort zones and challenges 
    • Make new friends 
    • Develop a sense of independence and self-reliance  
    • Increase flexibility and tolerance for ambiguity  
    • Gain a new perspective on world cultures   
  • Choosing a Program

    While choosing a gap year program, try asking yourself these questions: 

    • How long would I like to travel abroad (i.e. 1 month, 12 months, etc.)? 
    • What destination(s) would I like to visit? 
    • What would I like to take from this experience (i.e.: resume building, language skills, teaching experience, independence, self-discovery, etc.)? 
    • Do I prefer a program with more structure or flexibility 
    • How much do I want to travel during the program? 
    • Am I more interested in meeting peers from around the world or making local connections? 
    • Would I prefer an academic setting or “field” experience?  
    • Am I hoping to learn another language? 
    • Would I like to add teaching English as a new language to my resume? 
  • Program Options

    Teach in a Homestay 

    This is a language exchange program in which tutors teach 15 hours of English per week (around 3 hours per night Monday through Friday) in exchange for accommodation and 2-3 meals per day. Outside of tutoring hours, gap travelers are free to learn the host family’s language, enroll in a TEFL course, travel, take intensive language courses at a language school, etc. 

    Is this program a match?  This program is a likely match if you aren’t able to devote a full year to travel, have a desire to learn a new language, aspire to have teaching experience, want to live like a local, and prefer youweekends free to explore 

    Program Length: 1, 2, or 3 months.  

    Work Abroad

    Work Abroad programs allow gap year travelers to explore job interests while meeting a community of backpackers, actively engaging with a new culture, and funding their own travels. These programs essentially allow travelers to create a new life abroad as they work with our in-country team to choose a job, secure accommodation and travel the country.  

    Is this program a match? The work abroad programs are likely a match if you are looking to befriend a community of travelers, desire flexibility to travel, want to be able to put “work abroad” experience on your resumehave an adventurous side, enjoy the outdoors, and have a strong work ethic 

    Program length: 3-12 months  

    Language Camps

    Language Camps provide an opportunity for students to actively practice the host country’s national language in both a classroom and social environment. Language students will take 15-20 hours of intensive courses at a language academy learning from native speaking instructors. While they aren’t in school, students will live with a local host family and put their language skills to practical use. Programs also include cultural activities during the afternoons and some weekend excursions.  

    Is this program a match? Our language camp will be a good fit if you are seeking a full language immersion experience, have limited time to devote to study abroad, want to brush up on your language skills before going back to school, desire structured programmingthrive in a classroom setting, and want to meet students from all over the world. 

    Program length: 1 week (select destinations), 2-6 weeks  

    High School Abroad (College Track)

    High School Abroad (College Track) is a well-rounded study abroad experience.  As a student studying abroad, you’ll live with a host family and attend a local high school in the host country’s language. You also have the autonomy to join after school clubs, sports, and get involved with the community. Worried about classes being a boring review? Think again! Trust us – the academics in our destination countries are rigorous and considered to be similar to AP and entry-level college courses.  

    Is this program a match? This program is ideal for you if you’d like to prepare to attend university abroadwant a gap year experience that allows you to prepare academically for university, desire to learn a new languageand have the interest to live like a local with a host family 

    Program length: Depending on the country, high school programs range from 1-month or 2-month programs, trimesters, semesters or a full academic year. Students can begin their programs during the summer (select destinations) or during the Fall or Spring semesters.  

  • Why Greenheart Travel?

    There are advantages of applying for this program through us: 

    • 33 years of experience with cultural exchange programs 
    • Friendly, responsive, and professional support from your program manager, Zoe, who has lived abroad in several countries! 
    • We make our program fees as inclusive as possible. We include things like extensive medical insurance for the duration of the program, airport pickup, and extensive pre-departure and on-program support, so you’re not on your own for any part of your adventure 
    • Our alumni recommend us! GoOverseas.com Reviews // GoAbroad.com Reviews 
    • Exclusive access to the Greenheart Atlas, our interactive program that will guide you through your cultural immersion experience before, during, and after your program 
    • Hands-on support and personal attention every step of the way 
    • 24/7 emergency phone number to reach a staff member at any time 
    • Pre-departure “Culture Shock and Adjustment” Webinar before you leave 
    • Discounts for future Greenheart Travel programs 
    • We are a non-profit, mission-based organization 
    • Continued support throughout your program 

    We also have some unique offerings to our Greenheart Travel participants and alumni! 

    1. Greenheart Grants: Greenheart Grants are funds awarded to Greenheart Travel participants to use for community development projects in their host or home country. A Greenheart Grant is the opportunity to create, improve, or maintain an impactful, community-focused project abroad or at home. Grant funds could be applied to supporting women’s cooperatives, schools, community centers, or health clinics, for example. Grant winners will be featured on our website, social media, and blog. You can see our past winners on our blog here. 
    1. Greenheart Alumni Program: We created the Greenheart Travel Alumni Program to provide resources and a community to support alumni in their advancement as global leaders, and a way to celebrate and reward our participants for being ambitious, inspiring catalysts of cultural exchange! 
    1. Greenheart Global Leaders Conference: Each August Greenheart offers full-ride scholarships to over 40 alumni to attend our annual conference in Washington, DC. Participants even get a chance to advocate for cultural exchange in a presentation to the US Department of State. You can see more about what GGLC is and what you could do at the conference here. 

    Read more about why people are choosing Greenheart Travel: Why Choose Greenheart Travel? 

  • FAQs

    What if I can only travel abroad on certain dates? What if I can only go over the summer?

    No worries! We have programs with flexible start dates! We also offer short term programs that range from 1 week to 3 months that are perfect for the summer months! 

    Will I get college credit for a gap year?

    Greenheart Travel does not give direct credit for gap year programs. However, we are happy to provide any letters of support or documentation you would need in order to receive credit at your education institution. Here’s one example of how an alum got credit for her internship. 

    Additionally, if you’re trying to get course credit for language courses, note that language classes taken while on program are held at official language academies that often provide certificates of completion that you can also provide to your higher education institution.  Be sure to speak with your advisor before departure about what terms you need to meet to gain language course credits at your intended university.  

    How do I combine programs?

    If you’re looking to stay busy for the full duration of a year, you can apply for as many programs as you’d like to remain abroad for 12 months. For each program that you apply for, you will have to fill out a separate application since each application is designed to get a better understanding of your desires, expectations, and preferences for the specific program. We use this information to better help with logistics such as job and host family placement 

    As you’re working through these applications, please inform our staff that you’re applying for multiple programs and we will work with you to navigate the application process.   

    Are there any restrictions to signing up for back to back programs?

    In some cases, there will be restrictions that pertain to visa laws. For some programs within the European Union (EU), you will enter the country using a tourist visa. According to EU entry restrictions, you cannot stay within a European Union country for more than 90 days within a 180-day period. So, if you stay for 90 days, you must leave the EU for 90 days before returning. If you’re hoping to do multiple programs in Europe, you should plan for your next program to be in a Non-EU destinationFor example, you could do Teach English in a Homestay for France first, then Work Abroad Argentina for three months, and return to Europe to Teach English in a Homestay in Italy. 

    https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/visa-policy/schengen_visa_en 

    Will Greenheart Travel coordinate travel between destinations?

    No, you’re expected to work independently and coordinate travel to/from your programs.

    Can I travel on my own during the program?

    Highly structured programs that take place in a classroom setting such as Language Camps and High School Abroad will require approval to travel from our local coordinators and Greenheart Travel staff. Work Abroad programs are designed to allow for frequent travel so you’re more than welcome to plan trips! Teach in a Homestay, allows for flexibility to travel on weekends or during the morning hours as long as tutoring obligations are met.  

    Where will I live?

    We offer varying living accommodations across our gap year programs. Greenheart Travelers can expect to either live within a homestay, residence hall, apartment, or hostel throughout the duration of their program. 

    Can my parents visit?

    Yes, but there will be program-specific protocol that must be followed in order to organize the family visit. For some programs, we will ask that families wait to visit their loved one once the program has ended. If you think your family would like to visit, please let us know and we will inform you of any necessary steps that will need to be taken 

    Do I need a visa?

    Most of our programs run on one of the following visas: tourist, student, or working holiday. You will be advised as to whether you’ll have to apply for a visa, and we will provide visa support letters as needed.

    Do I need to speak the local language?

    For our High School program in France, it is required that students have at least 2 years of French Language instruction.  

    Teach in a Homestay is a language exchange program, so the desired outcome is that tutors will instruct the family in English language lessons, and while tutors are not teaching English, they will practice speaking the local language in an informal social setting. Families are excited to have a nativeEnglish speaker in their home to guide them in their English studies. Complete beginners are more than welcome on this program!  

    Travelers on our Work Abroad programs must speak the local language proficiently (beginner-level is accepted for Work Argentina) as they must be able to communicate with their peers in the workplace.  

    Do I need immunizations?

    Since we are not a licensed medical professional, we cannot provide advice on vaccines and medication. We suggest that travelers visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website to get up-to-date information on immunizations. Additionally, it is always a good idea to consult a local travel clinic in order to discuss your travel plans.  

    What is the deadline to build my own gap year?

    Our programs have varying deadlines, but we recommend planning your gap year at least 6 months prior.  

    Please be sure to refer to the program deadlines listed on the program page for which you are inquiring about. 

    What else can I add to my program to personalize it?

    You’ll discover that some of our programs have options to add language classes and TEFL courses. In just about every instance you can join sports teams, clubs, and volunteer locally!  Each program allows you a bit of flexibility to pursue your interests and hobbies.  

    Why do a gap year with Greenheart Travel instead of another gap year program?

    Greenheart Travelers have the flexibility to create their own gap year experience from the ground up with the support of a cultural exchange organization with over 33 years of experience 

    We offer gap programs that range from 1 to 12 months, so individuals with varying schedules throughout the year can have an impactful break from their daily routine.   

    Our programs are available in over 15 different countries spanning throughout Europe, Asia, and South America 

    As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, we work to keep our programs as affordable as possible, while including necessary factors into the program cost that aid in logistics support and provide Greenheart Travelers with a sense of security such as medical insurance, in-country support, host family vetting, and in some cases even accommodation and meals 

    What safety protocols are in place?

    For every one of our gap program destinations, we have local coordinators and support offices that are prepared to act in any case of an emergency. Our personable staff abroad are available to help travelers navigate any pressing situations.  

    Greenheart travelers receive pre-departure webinars that walk them through arrival logistics and emergency procedures so that they feel secure, knowledgeable, and supported if an emergency were to arise. Additionally, we provide travelers with a welcome packet and emergency contact form that details Greenheart Travel’s 24/7 emergency support number.  

    Lastly, as part of every program, we provide a comprehensive travel medical insurance plan.  

  • Application Process

    1. Start Here. You will be put in touch with our staff and experts if you want help discussing or customizing your gap year.
    2. Start An Application. You will receive a link via the email from Step 1. This first step includes things like your name, address and chosen start date and should take around 10-15 minutes to complete. You should indicate on your application whether your first chosen*** program is focused on work, teaching in a homestay, language camp, or high school abroad. Once your application is complete, you will receive a link to a digital Terms and Conditions form.
    3. Sign the Terms & Conditions (Approximately 10 Minutes): These are our basic policies like cancellation policies, deferral policies, etc.
    4. Submit your deposit (Approximately 5 minutes): A $300 deposit is required in order to apply for the program. This is subtracted from your total program fee. If we are unable to accept you following your interview (very unlikely!) we will refund your deposit in full.
    5. Secondary Application Form (Approximately 30 Minutes): Provide more detailed information about yourself in Part 2 of the application. Links to this part will be emailed to you. In this section, you’ll tell us more information like your work history, motivations for joining the program, travel history, and emergency contacts.
    6. Submitting Your Documents: Submit your required documents (below) at the link provided.
    7. Video Interview (Approximately 15 Minutes):  Once you have submitted your online application and paid your application deposit, you will be asked to schedule a video interview with a Greenheart Travel representative.
    8. You’re accepted! Woohoo! We are usually able to accept people within 1-2 weeks of their interviews.
    9. Commitment Deposit: Once you are accepted to the program, you will need to submit a $300 commitment deposit within 14 days to confirm your spot on the program.
    10. Book your flights and get ready for your adventure!

    ***If you plan to enroll in multiple programs to encompass a full gap year, notify us during your application process so we may streamline the application process.

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