The fallout from the coronavirus means that life in September may not be as you expected. It might be that you weren’t able to sit your exams, your grades aren’t what you hoped for, or the prospect of starting university online is off-putting. Perhaps the uncertainty has led you to consider taking a gap year. Planning at this time is difficult and you might not know where to start. At the end of my gap year, I’d like to offer some tips.
COVID-19 means it is difficult to predict how your gap year will look. But the great news is that God already knows. Give your gap year over to Him, and ask Him to use it to bring your relationship closer. He has a plan for you that will enable you to live life in all its fullness! Therefore, the best starting point is with God, ask Him to guide you as you look towards the next year, and ensure that He is the central focus rather than an afterthought.
In my experience, volunteering is a great way to make a difference and bring yourself closer to God. We are called to serve, and through it we become Christ-like. There are so many opportunities to volunteer – globally, nationally and locally. Due to the coronavirus, it might be more difficult to find a placement overseas, but there are still opportunities within the UK to serve, such as offering your time at local Foodbanks, refugee shelters or your church. Begin by praying and asking God to grow your desire to serve, research and start serving!
If your gap year involves travelling, investigate ways to do so sustainably.
Society tells us that the best way to travel is by plane, but during my gap year some of my favourite places were ones I travelled to by bus. We are fortunate that within the UK, there are cheap coaches, or advanced train tickets that offer opportunities to see the country in an affordable but different way.
Even when travelling abroad, if you’re careful, you can travel cheaply and in a more environmentally friendly way. I got a bus from London to Paris for £12! Although it takes longer, I would still recommend travelling alternatively for the environmental benefits and if you choose overnight transport, you can save on hotel costs too.
During my gap year, I learnt that living for God includes everything, even seemingly small habits. When planning, it’s important to consider the impact of these habits on God’s creation. Every choice can affect the planet and the most disadvantaged in our global society. Make a few small swaps: buy a bamboo toothbrush, use a shampoo bar. On the surface these swaps may seem insignificant, but in reality they contribute to a wider solution, and to restoring God’s Kingdom.
Finally, Prepare for change!
COVID-19 has caused uncertainty, plans have been altered, disrupted or cancelled. Unfortunately it looks like that may continue, so ensure you are prepared. Plan ahead and if you are travelling, ensure your travel insurance covers all eventualities. However, remember that the Bible teaches God has planned everything out and will be walking with you.