Isabelle gives us the low-down on all of the skills she developed whilst working abroad before University
The idea of taking a ‘year out’ to work abroad may seem daunting to many young people. Some fear not being accepted, not being ‘good enough’ or are generally frightened by the unknown prospect of living, and working, in a different country with different customs and expectations. All of these thoughts were racing through my head just over a year ago but taking a year out suddenly became one of the best decisions I ever made.
After a period of hesitation, my parents were the ones who finally persuaded me that this would be a good idea (proving that time really is the enzyme that turns experience into wisdom). The year out, or gap year, was not just a time to ‘find myself’ as so many joke, but time for me to learn invaluable life lessons, gain extra brownie points on my CV and expand my knowledge about the world through experience. But surely all of these benefits are blue-sky thinking? Surely I can’t have an incredible time and also boost my CV? Anyway, where do I even start?
Well, for my year out, I started by working on a ski season in the mountains as a chalet host in La Rosière, France for just over 4 months. During the rest of my gap year, I worked at a Summer camp, just outside of New York, lifeguarding. All of the work I did was tiring and difficult at some point, but after completing it I was met with an amazing sense of achievement that I had, all on my own, worked and lived in two different cultures and I had done it successfully.
Looking back on my year out, I have realised a few things. Firstly, I am capable of so much more than I ever expected of myself. And secondly, I’m now, so much more outgoing, confident and determined to do what I want to do and that I can do it – heck, I lived and worked in two different countries on my own.
As you can see my experience was transformative and inspiring and if I had one piece of advice for anyone thinking of taking some time to travel, work abroad or just try a new career it’s that everybody you will meet is in the same boat as you: nervous, anxious and a little uneasy, but you will find that these like-minded people will become your friends for life. It is incredibly rewarding when you succeed during your year out, as you get to discover new places and learn new skills. None of that can ever be taken away from you.