Guest Post: To gap or not to gap? That is the question!

gap

While the gap year or “year out” has been a common and popular rite of passage in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and many countries in Europe for decades, traditionally North American students have ridden the academic conveyor belt all the way from preschool to university without a break. Now the tides are changing and many soon-to-be high school graduates are saying they’re burnt out, and need more time before deciding what they want to take at university. Instead of packing for their first year, they are now booking their flights to go volunteering in Africa, or work on a yacht in the Caribbean.

North America is starting to catch on to the “gap year” syndrome, and for good reason. Amid concerns about drop-out rates, researchers now say that students who go straight to university often find themselves in a program that doesn’t interest them, and are more likely to change programs, thus prolonging their degree and increasing their debt level, and they are more likely to quit. Experts now say that going straight to university may be short-sighted for some and a year out is the way to go.

Taking a gap year has never been easier. Many universities are now willing to defer start dates for a year – York University is embracing this gap year phenomenon with its Bridging the Gap program and “celebrates” a student’s choice to take a year off to gain work experience, do community service or go on an international exchange and will reserve the student’s admission spot for up to a year provided he or she is accepted into the program. Harvard University, one of the top universities in the world, has always been ahead of its time and for the past 40 years has proposed that students take a year out in its letter of admission.

Is there a downside to taking a gap year? Not really, according to a 2008 Statistics Canada report published jointly with Canadian Policy Research Networks. The report found that students who delay postsecondary education don’t face a disadvantage in the labour market later on – as long as they actually complete their program once started. In fact, a Canadian Council of Learning study found that students who took a gap year were eight per cent more likely to be employed upon finishing all their studies.

Understandably, many parents are a little nervous that their son or daughter will be side-tracked and destined to remain degree-less forever. However, even though there are no formal studies on the actual number of gap year students who do make their way to university, admissions staff say that only a few drop off the radar. On the contrary, a year out can make you more focused, better prepared for university life and more likely to complete at least one university degree. After all, it’s not getting into university that counts – it’s getting the degree at the end of the line!

“To gap or not to gap… that is the question.” Students who have taken the year out, universities, and the latest statistics are saying “Yes, go for it!” Although it may be a daunting prospect for parents and students to divert from the “safe” bound-for-university-after-high-school route, the rewards and benefits are well worth stepping out of that comfort zone. To find out more about gap year options, come and visit the Study and Go Abroad Fair and meet universities from around the world as well as student travel organizations.  For more information, check out www.studyandgoabroad.com.

Contributed by:

 Katie Idle, Director of Sales and Marketing
Study and Go Abroad Fairs
katie@recruitincanada.com
www.studyandgoabroad.com

1024x512_swapSWAP Working Holidays is thrilled to be at each stop of this year’s Study and Go Abroad fair. Stop by, say hello, ask us questions, get information!

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Meet us at the Go Global Expos in Toronto and Montreal!

We’re excited to be at the Go Global Expo – Work, Study, Volunteer Abroad this fall! If you’re interested in doing a working holiday and have some questions, come talk to us at our booths (and pick up our new brochure)! Can’t wait to talk to all of you!

Blog-Slider-640xany Blog-Slider-640xany2

(Sorry, Boston, maybe next time)

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SWAP’s coming to you for the Study and Go Abroad Fairs!

1024x512_swapWe’re thrilled to be seen all around the country  during the Study and Go Abroad Fairs in five cities (we didn’t forget about you, West Coast)! Come say hi and ask us anything about working abroad.

VANCOUVER – September 27th
CALGARY – September 28th
EDMONTON – September 30th
OTTAWA – October 2nd
TORONTO – October 4th and 5th (our hometown!)

Check out this link for all the details and we’ll see you there!

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#Throwback Thursday: 90’s SWAPPERs Reunion!

When moving abroad, the first thoughts tend to be what you have to leave behind – family, friends, pets, your job, your routine, which we know can be a bit overwhelming! But there is also the exciting opportunity to think of what you’ll get to bring back with you (and we don’t just mean souvenirs for your folks.)

One of the best things about a working holiday though is that not only do you get to experience a whole new lifestyle, but you also get to meet people you never would have if you stayed at home – and these friendships can end up lasting a lifetime.

Scott, a former UK SWAPPER, got in touch with us recently to let us know that he was organizing a reunion for his friends that he met on SWAP – back in 1998! Not only did Scott have an amazing time in the UK, he also met some amazing people, and their friendship is now 16 years strong. With one of the gang approaching the big 4-0, they decided to throw a SWAP reunion to celebrate their time in the UK.

We were thrilled to be a part of their reunion and our awesome marketing department designed some pretty retro t-shirts for the big day:

SWAP-shirt

The gang was nice enough to rock the SWAP t-shirts and send us a group picture. Looking good, everyone! We hope you had a great time!

SWAP-reunion

Visas have their time limits, but the experiences, memories, and friendships you’ll bring back home with you last much longer!

SWAP has been sending Canadians abroad for almost 40 years now, so we’re sure there are many more friendships that all started out with a dream and a plane ticket. Share or make new memories with over 6,000 SWAPPERS on our Facebook group or tweet us @_SWAP_

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#ThisIsYourYear to live, find work and make new friends in an exciting new country!

SWAP-Australia-ThisIsYourYear

www.swap.ca/destinations

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SWAP Takes the ALS #IceBucketChallenge!

We were challenged to the ALS #IceBucketChallenge by USIT Ireland and we did it! This is a great fundraising campaign for important ALS research, so please go to http://www.als.ca/icebucketchallenge and give what you can!

We are nominating: IEP New Zealand, the SWAP Vancouver office, and Samesun Backpackers in Vancouver! You are challenged to donate for ALS research or dump a bucket of ice water on your heads!

SWAP-ALS-thumbnail

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5I8oMHyDV4A

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USIT Ice Bucket Challenge

“Sure what else would we be doing on our lunch break!? We’ve decided to take part in this challenge for an amazing cause, supporting the MND Association and have all donated our €2 by texting MND to 50300. Now, are you up for the challenge Fitzgeralds Bar SWAP Working Holidays and Ryanair???! #IceBucketChallenge
We accept this challenge! We’ll donate / film it this week and pass it on to three others! So remember everyone, this is not just for awareness but also fundraising – go to http://www.ALS.CA/ICEBUCKETCHALLENGE and throw in a few bucks if you can!
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Our 2014 SWAP Experience Contest Winners!

We are thrilled to announce the 8 winners of our 2014 SWAP Experience Contest! After receiving entries from all over the world, we randomly drew the name of our grand prize, and had separate competitions for the best photos and stories.

Congratulations to MADEEHA ($500 grand prize), MYRIAM (cover photo prize), and RYAN, ERIC + BRITTANY, EMILY, ROBYN, and LAUREN (story prizes)!

We loved seeing everyone’s amazing experiences through SWAP. SWAPPERs in 2013-14 gained permanent careers, found themselves, connected with new loves, and created unforgettable memories. Thank you, thank you for sharing it with us!

Let’s do this again next year!

2014-1st

2014-photo 2014-survey

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You’ve imagined living here, being a local with a nice job. Now stop imagining. #ThisIsYourYear

SWAP-Imagine-ThisIsYourYear

www.swap.ca/destinations

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Enter the 2014 SWAP Experience Contest!

Hey! Are you doing your SWAP working holiday right now, or have finished one recently? If so, you can enter our $750 SWAP Experience contest! All we want is for you to tell us about your experience abroad, add some photos of your working holiday and send it in. That’s it! All the details can be found here: http://swap.ca/news/june-2014/

2014-SWAP-Experience

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#ThisIsYourYear to live more green in the Emerald Isle

SWAP-Ireland-ThisIsYourYear

www.swap.ca/destinations

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Throwback Thursday – It’s an Old SWAP Brochure from 1984!

#TBT Throwback Thursday! We found a bunch of our older SWAP brochures and we wanted to share them with you. This one’s 30 years old, from the year 1984 (beside our newest 2014-15 brochure)! SWAP would’ve been in business for 9 years at that point.

Some fun facts about SWAP in 1984:
- We used to participate in a mixed softball league in London!
- There used to be “organized evenings of discussion with British Members of Parliament and local government officials”.
- Back then, you could only enter New Zealand at two points in the year. Only one arrival time for Belgium. That’s crazy.
- At that point, SWAP was an acronym (Student Work Abroad Program). Now we’re simply SWAP Working Holidays!
- Of the 11 office locations listed in the 1984 brochure, one is still in the exact same place now in 2014 (the University of Alberta office)!

SWAP-brochure-1984-1 SWAP-brochure-1984-2

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#ThisIsYourYear to kick-start your career with an internship in the USA

SWAP-USA-ThisIsYourYear

www.swap.ca/internshipUSA

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#ThisIsYourYear to write the next chapter of your life’s story

SWAP-UK-ThisIsYourYear

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SWAP Talk in Saskatoon!

single-140326-Saskatoon-2

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The ROI On Studying Abroad

Studying abroad can be an exciting opportunity to travel and live in another culture. However, depending on the destination, it may be considerably more expensive than staying at home in Canada – especially for those students still living with their parents. The costs can add up – tuition fees, accommodation, food, transportation and other living expenses. The big question is … is it worth the extra expense?

Studies say: YES. Studying abroad can have a positive impact on your career goals, marketable skills and general employability.

According to the Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE)’s World of Learning: Canadian Post-Secondary Students and the Study Abroad Experience report, 91% of employers thought that studying abroad was an advantage and identified an extensive list of benefits, including a better understanding of cultural differences inside and outside the workplace, and more world experience which makes for an easier adaptation to unfamiliar environments and enhanced life skills.

In today’s economy, it is more important than ever to “stand out from the crowd’ and time spent studying abroad can give graduates that competitive edge which will improve their chances of landing their dream job.

An online survey conducted by Higher Education Strategy Associates of 2,742 Canadians enrolled in an undergraduate program in a degree-granting institution during the 2009-10 academic year revealed that more than half of the students had either studied abroad, or were at least considering it. Of these, 93 percent felt that their studies abroad had improved their ability to work in a culturally diverse environment and had increased their knowledge of international affairs and that these two factors were important in getting a job after graduation.

Many universities in Canada now have partnerships with international universities and encourage students to participate in study abroad and exchange programs.  Classrooms around the world are becoming ‘global’ and offer a plethora of opportunities to learn about other cultures and to form long-lasting friendships and potential business contacts across borders.

At the Study and Go Abroad Fair in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto, universities from around the world will be showcasing undergraduate and postgraduate degrees as well as Certificate and Diploma programs abroad.  Check out the Travel Zone for Gap Year, work abroad, internships and language travel opportunities.

- Katie Idle

Study and Go Abroad Fair, Canada’s largest international university and student travel expo www.studyandgoabroad.com

StudyGoAbroadSpring2014

SWAP Working Holidays will be at the Study and Go Abroad Fairs in Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto. Come talk to us about any of our fantastic work and travel abroad programs! #ThisIsYourYear #GoSWAP

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Cupid struck at SWAP!

love

We’ve heard so many stories of SWAPPERs finding love on their working holidays, but this one might be our favourite! Thanks to Kelly and Chris, who were excited to share their story with you.

Kelly and Chris first locked eyes in September 2009 at the SWAP Toronto hosting centre. That same evening they partied with new friends at a SWAP party: the Boat Cruise. Somehow they squeezed in some alone time to watch the sunset on the CN Tower. Totally intoxicated (by the warm summer breeze and engaging conversation, of course) their love story had just begun.

The SWAPPER romance bloomed in Canada with vacations, adventures and even a few months of long distance. Their love affair continued growing in the UK as they settled together in Glasgow. Two years later, Chris asked to put a ring on it… and Kelly said YES! In 2013, they stepped it up from their backpacker days and said “I do” in a castle! Kelly dazzled in a princess-like wedding gown and Chris was dashing in a kilt; a new, but *true Scotsman* he was…. At their wedding reception, they themed every table to represent something that was special to bringing them to their wedding day so it was no surprise that one table was themed for the Boat Cruise and another one was called SWAP.

Kelly from Scotland and Chris from England opened their minds and hearts to the world and the world gave them love in return. Their wedding song by Avicii sums it up nicely: “Life’s a game made for everyone and love is the prize”.

What will your story be? Open your heart this year to living abroad and see what this amazing world has waiting for you!

- Written by the awesome Roxy!

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The 23rd STUDY AND GO ABROAD FAIR gives students an opportunity to plan their trip abroad

The Study and Go Abroad Fair, to be held in Toronto, Ottawa, Halifax, Vancouver and Calgary between September 21-28, features top universities and student travel organizations from Canada and around the world offering undergraduate and postgraduate programs, gap year options and adventure travel for students of all ages.

The trend towards “internationalizing” education in Canada continues in an upward spiral as Generation Y realizes the importance of becoming “global citizens.” Skills learned while studying or taking internships abroad can enhance a résumé and differentiate graduates from their peers when applying for that dream job. Students and their families visiting the Study and Go Abroad Fair can meet with top-ranked universities from around the world to find out about diploma programs, undergraduate and postgraduate programs abroad, as well as available scholarships.

Exhibiting institutions, several of which rank in the Top 100 universities worldwide, will be showcasing programs in Medicine, Pharmacy, Engineering, Hotel Management, Business, Technology, Science, and Culinary and Liberal Arts and many other fields. Visitors who are planning a Gap Year, to work abroad, intern, volunteer or simply travel, can visit the Travel Zone (this is where you can find us, SWAP Working Holidays).

Exhibitor profiles, scholarship information and seminar schedules for the STUDY AND GO ABROAD FAIR can be found online at www.studyandgoabroad.com, along with details of our Grand Prize Draw.  Prizes include an Air Canada return flight to anywhere in the world, and a volunteer trip in Africa donated by Developing World Connections.

Details for the expo in each city are as follows:

Toronto – September 21: 12pm to 6pm
Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Ottawa – September 22: 1pm to 5pm
Ottawa Convention Centre
SWAP Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/555133684547888/

Halifax – September 24: 10am to 4pm
Canadian Immigration Museum at Pier 21
SWAP Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/504932316266469/

Vancouver – September 26: 3pm to 7pm
Vancouver Convention Centre
SWAP Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/504810556269604/

Calgary – September 28: 1pm to 5pm
BMO Centre, Stampede Park
SWAP Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/167837526739221/

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Announcing Our 2013 SWAP Experience Contest Winners!

We are thrilled to announce the two winners of our 2013 SWAP Experience Contest! After receiving entries from all around the world, we randomly drew the names of our grand prize and 2nd prize winners. Congratulations to TARA and MARIE-EVE, who both did working holidays on our SWAP Ireland program! Tara wins $500 and Marie-Eve gets a $100 gift card!

We loved seeing everyone’s incredible experiences through SWAP. There were stories of adventure faced, life-long goals met, romances followed, and jobs acquired. We are constantly amazed at what SWAPPERs accomplish on our working holiday programs and it’s your stories that keep us working so that other people can have the same experiences.

We can’t wait to share some of your adventures as part of our SWAPPER stories, so keep an eye out here and on our social media (Facebook and Twitter) for that! Also keep a look out for the new 2013-14 SWAP Working Holidays brochure where some of your photos will be found (you’re in print now)!

Can’t wait to do this again next year!

winners

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SWAP Staff Go Where You Go!

libby

After years of working and travelling all over the world, this January I decided to head to New Zealand to see what all the fuss was about. What I intended to do was to go to the SWAP hosting centre, run by IEP NZ, and check it out for myself since they have been taking care of our Canadians for years, but what I ended up doing was being blown away by all that NZ has to offer. When I arrived at the office in Auckland, the staff were amazingly friendly (I thought Canadians were supposed to be the most friendly people on the planet?!) and the hosting centre was everything I knew it would be. They really do run a great hosting centre there. They let me sit in on an orientation that was going on and it was great since half of the talk is about everything you need to know about living and working in NZ but the other half is about where to travel in NZ, how to do it cheaply and what definitely not to miss. It was so helpful and I learned about all the things I wanted to do in my short visit!

I spent time in Auckland which is a great city with so much to see and do. I ate at awesome restaurants, met lots of international travellers and made some amazing connections. The highlight of my trip was going canyoning with some people that I met at the hosting centre. If you don’t know what canyoning is, neither did I, but I went anyway! Canyoning is when you abseil down rock cliffs and along side of waterfalls and land at the bottom in water. One drop was 50 metres! Believe me, I’m not a hard core adrenaline junkie but this was both challenging, fun, and rewarding for me. The group was hilarious – you have to be when dropping yourself over 50 metre cliffs and nobody had any experience so we were all in it together. I saw some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen, laughed so hard I almost peed (I had to be careful since I was wearing a wet suit!), and did things I never could have done in Toronto! AWOL Adventures offers this amazing experience and I had a blast.

By the end of my trip, NZ showed me Orca whales, blue penguins, too many gorgeous beaches to count, fascinating cultural history, the best Pinot Noirs I’ve tasted, waterfalls, the oldest tree in the world, and glow worm caves just to name a few. I will definitely be back and am so excited for anyone deciding to do a working holiday there.

To learn more about our SWAP New Zealand working holiday program, click here.

Originally posted in the July 2013 SWAP Newsletter. Sign-up for it here!

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