12
Jan
Charlotte Inwood Photo

CEF intern Charlotte Inwood took a gap year when she finished school and said the experience changed her life.

When Charlotte Inwood finished school she knew she wanted to go on to further study. She also knew it was going to cost a lot of money and so Charlotte decided to defer starting her degree and take a gap year to broaden her horizons and build up some savings before settling in to four years of a PR/Business double degree.

Charlotte’s now in her final year of study and has been interning here at Country Education Foundation. Read all about Charlotte’s gap year experience…

Going from a shy country girl to an international traveller, my gap year was full of discovery. Whether it was navigating my way through the complex maze of the London underground or deciphering the menu of a small town restaurant in Portugal, there were challenges all around me. I took a gap year to expand my horizons and gain ‘real world’ experience, but I never imagined the impact it would have on me as a person.

After finishing high school in 2012, I had plans to go straight to university and get my life on track. I had been informed about various gap years that were available, but the thought of moving to the other side of the world by myself was just plain terrifying. I had planned my university study, and was keen to start a degree in communications. It wasn’t until my parents encouraged me to look at other options that I started to consider the possibilities, of which there were many! I went through an agency called Tutors Worldwide, which matched my interests and abilities with schools that could accommodate them. This led me to Bethany School in England, where I worked as a teaching assistant, sports coach, marketing assistant and boarding house supervisor for one year.

The hardest part of my journey was the very first part. Being from a country town had meant that most of the travelling I had done was the occasional trip to Sydney. I was not very experienced with public transport, so finding my way around an airport was an even bigger challenge! During my 23+ hour flight I felt myself getting further away from the comfort of home, but also getting closer to new experiences and opportunities. Once I touched down in London I never looked back. I was able to travel to over 10 different countries while becoming more confident and sure about who I was as a person. Some memorable experiences were being bombarded with tomatoes at the annual La Tomatina festival in Spain, snorkelling at a private beach in the Greek Islands, and discovering my ancestry in Ireland. I ended up making lifelong friends all across the globe!

I was always worried that the time I had off would discourage me from returning to university, but my gap year actually made me more excited to start a new journey. I found myself researching my course further, and looking for any readings I could do before I started. I had extra time to be sure about the course I chose, and I also had time to save for University. Having a year off studying after 13 years of schooling was just so refreshing! My desire to travel was sparked by my gap year, and in 2014 I travelled to China for a short term university program. My time overseas has helped me to appreciate and understand other cultures, and also become more independent.