University and Careers

Student Experiences

Please find a couple of experiences form former KES students described below.  These should help to give some ideas of what can be accomplished on a well-planned gap year.

Robbie Franklin 2017-18

I decided to take a Gap Year because I had decided from a young age that I always wanted to go travelling before university. This worked well because at the time UCAS applications were being submitted I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to study or where. By applying after I had received my A Level results, I knew what courses I would or wouldn’t be able to study with my grades, which made applying much less stressful than it could have been. I started my Gap Year with rough idea of what I wanted to do, and was able to visit school and chat with Dr Filtness to help decide what to do and how to go about it. Firstly, I had to raise the funds to cover my travels and work out what my budget was. I worked in a restaurant to earn money; this was hard work but definitely supplied me with much needed life skills and work experience.

I ended up meeting a friend in Australia to travel up the east coast, before going to New Zealand with him. Both countries are great for their scenery and popularity with other travellers. The South Island of NZ deserves a special mention for its incredible landscapes and sparsely populated areas of wilderness. I would highly recommend hiring a campervan to explore NZ, as it allows you to access areas tourists normally aren’t able to.

After Australia and New Zealand, I met another friend in Japan and spent a month there before going back home. This was an incredible experience simply because every aspect of life there is so different from that of the UK. Tokyo is undoubtedly my favourite city because of how varied it is - there are whole districts dedicated to certain subcultures. For instance, Harajuku is almost entirely dedicated to street fashion. My visit was made even better by the fact that the friend I was travelling with was half-Japanese. Meeting his Japanese family and friends was a highlight for me because of how hospitable they were, as well as the local knowledge that they shared.

Beth Gaunt 2016-17

During my GAP year, I am volunteering with Tearfund in Peru for six months. Volunteering is a great way to become fully immersed in a culture and allows you to really see a country, not just from a touristic, superficial level but also from an insider’s point of view. I had a week of training before I left that prepared me for what I am doing and made me aware of some of the challenges that can arise, as well as a debrief upon arrival. Travelling with Tearfund has been great, as I know I have the security of a large organisation if something were to go wrong - my parents particularly like this aspect!

I am volunteering, along with seven other GAP year students and we are living in the city of Cajamarca. Tearfund Peru is partnered with a local charity called WARMIS that works to empower women, aid agriculture, connect with disadvantaged children and partner with local churches. Day-to-day life includes teaching English in rural communities, running women’s groups and teaching them basic skills so that they can live independently; organising children’s activities on weekends and teaching musical lessons. In addition, we have been involved in the Christmas shoe-box appeal and distribution. Being part of a community like this also is a great way to become fluent in a language!

I would have missed out on so much of the culture if I had just visited Cajamarca as a tourist; volunteering completely immerses you in the culture and it also opens your eyes to the real world beyond the school gates, helping to make this a truly memorable and rewarding experience.

See more at Beth’s Gap Year blog

Beth Photo 1

Beth Photo 2

Ollie Trotter 2015-16

One week after my final A-Level exam, I was on a plane to Zambia, by myself. I had never spent more than a week away from home before, and I was jumping straight into the deep end, about to spend 6 months travelling eastern Africa. I am fortunate enough to have family living in Zambia, who put me in contact with various safari lodges and holiday resorts that helped me out with voluntary work. I first spent a month volunteering for an NGO called Game Rangers International, living in the Kafue National Park, helping in the fight against ivory poaching. This was followed up by a month working on a remote island in Lake Malawi as a water-sports instructor in a small backpacker’s lodge. I then headed back to Zambia where I spent the next two months working in a safari lodge, helping with a bit of bar work, painting and doing supply runs through the South Luangwa National Park, one of the most densely populated wildlife sanctuaries in the world. My final adventure of this trip was 6 weeks volunteering in Tanzania for Frontier (a UK based Gap Year company). They taught me how to Scuba Dive and identify fish and coral species before I joined the research team where I helped them collect data to monitor the declining health of the coral reefs.

The following six months were a bit less intense but just as fun, as I came back home and got a full time job working at Marwell Zoo, where I made a load of new friends and managed to pay off all the debt from my travels, as well as give myself a financial head start for University, which I am currently very grateful for! I also managed to squeeze in a month driving down the Croatian coast in a camper-van with a few mates before I had to crawl back into the world of studying, which was not at all easy!

I still think back to my time in Africa as the best experience of my life so far. I gained the confidence that only solo travelling in a foreign, very different country can teach you and I made a tonne of memories that will stay with me forever.

  1. Ollie Photo 1

  2. Ollie Photo 2

  3. Ollie Photo 3