Heading to Ireland for a gap year program may be a great way to hit pause while still doing something meaningful with your time (Dancing to Irish music! Enjoying Irish pubs! Meeting Irish people!). While you explore Ireland’s lush green countryside and stunningly gorgeous villages and cities (Dublin! Cork! Limerick!), you may also grow as a person, which could enhance your studies, relationships, and career down the road. Here’s how:
Imagine how you might grow by spending time in another culture. Ireland has a rich and ancient heritage, dating back to the Vikings. Picture yourself eating new foods, like rashers or black sausage. Talking to people with different perspectives and adjusting to new systems and norms. Or hearing unique accents and languages. Most Irish speak English but many speak the native Irish Gaelic as well! Experiences like these could shift the way you perceive others and yourself. They might also help you feel more comfortable in unfamiliar environments and teach you how to communicate with people from other cultures. Skills like these may be very useful in today's global world!
Expanding your network and community might create new possibilities for your future.
You’ll likely meet lots of new people in Ireland. And if you speak English, there's no langauge barrier, which could make meaningful interactions even easier! Maybe you’ll meet students who help you discover what you want to study. Or perhaps you'll encounter professionals who inspire your career. Maybe you’ll meet life-long friends who influence your path or help you discover your passions. As much of Ireland is part of the EU, you’ll likely meet people from Ireland and other countries, further expanding your network and horizons. You might return to your home country having made connections in Ireland and beyond. Imagine how this could enhance your life and future!
Spending time in Ireland might help you discover your passions and purpose.
While you immerse yourself in Irish culture and connect with new people, you might also pique your curiosity by exploring the country. As you learn more about Ireland’s social, cultural, historical, and political contexts, you could discover what you love and why. Not to mention, many gap year programs in Ireland are designed to help you do just that through coursework and other activities. Navigating the great joys and subtle challenges of living abroad, you might develop new strengths and abilities. A gap year in Ireland could be a fantastic way to discover more about who you are.
Taking a deep breath could be a perfect way to prepare for college.
Sometimes it’s great to take a break from classroom education. Studying and earning good grades can be hard work, and you’ve probably been doing it for a long time. Why not pause the routine and explore Ireland? You’ll likely learn and still grow. You’ll probably develop new skills, capacities, and knowledge. You may even make progress toward future goals. You’ll just do so in another country and perhaps outside of the formal classroom. And when you return to school, you may be refreshed, inspired, and ready to go. Wouldn’t that be great?
What Might I See in Ireland?
One of the major potential benefits of gap year programs in Ireland is the joy of exploring a cool country. Here are some things you might want to do and see while in Ireland:
- Spend the night in a castle! Some castles in Ireland are hotels. Wouldn’t it be great to let the historical spirit of Ireland sink into your bones overnight? If you opt not to sleep in one, definitely visit one! Blarney Castle and Bunratty Castle are two not to miss.
- Kayak in a lake at night! Do this with a group of people or a tour. If you’re lucky, you might get to witness the beauty of bioluminescence in your boat’s wake. One place to kayak is Lough Hyne in Cork.
- Take the Dursey Island cable car in Cork! Cable cars present your one opportunity to visit the Irish Island of Dursey. Enjoy the experience and spend some time eating and shopping when you’ve hit land.
- Ride a bike along the Great Western Greenway or through the Irish countryside! See Ireland’s gorgeous natural beauty and quaint villages. Bring a picnic of soda bread, corned beef with cabbage, and champ, a traditional potato dish.
- Visit some of Ireland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Brú na Bóinne (a complex of Neolithic tombs, henges, and standing stones) and Skellig Michael (a Gaelic monastery).
This is just a sampling of the many things to do in see. Before you spend your gap year in Ireland, read a guide book to get a sense of the country’s many sights. Plan a journey that helps you get the most out of your time abroad.
What is My Next Step?
Now it is time to find some perfect gap year programs in Ireland for you! You can view several programs listed on this page. Browse through them to get a sense of how long you can spend in Ireland and what types of gap year programs are available. Alternatively, you can refine your search to find programs in a variety of Irish cities, programs of a particular duration, and programs that emphasize a particular specialty. When you find a program that piques your interest, contact it directly to ask questions and to sign up! Then, pack your bags and get ready! What might be a life-altering adventure awaits.