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Africa and Asia Venture (AV) - An Unexpected Gap Year

Becky Towers didn't plan to take a gap year but after 4 months in Uganda teaching with Africa and Asia Venture she realised it was an experience not to be missed!

When did you decide to take a Gap Year and how did you choose what to do?

Becky with one of her pupils on her gap year teaching in Uganda with Africa & Asia Venture"I hadn't originally planned to take a gap year; in fact I was almost dead set against the idea of taking one as I was keen to get stuck into university life.  Unfortunately when my a-level grades came out in the August I was six marks short of the grades I needed to take up my offer of medicine at Cardiff University.  I found no courses I liked in the UCAS clearing and so had no other option but to take a year out before I started university, much to my dismay at the time."

"My main aim for my gap year was to re-sit a couple of exams as well as do something productive and exciting: something that I wouldn't otherwise have had the opportunity to do.  I considered travelling, but since my gap year was so last minute I didn't have anyone to travel with as all my friends had gone straight to university.  I also decided that I wanted to use my gap year to do something productive as everyone I had spoken to about gap years said that volunteering was the most rewarding part of their experience.  So I started hunting for a gap year company that allowed me to volunteer, travel and go with a group of people my age."

What do you think you got out of the gap year?

"My gap year was a real adventure...  I was able to do and see so Becky with her class at the school in Uganda where she was a volunteer teacher on a gap year placement arranged with Africa & Asia Venturemany exciting things that I wouldn't otherwise been able to.  I enjoyed the challenge of teaching, and the challenge of being thrown in the deep end in difficult situations.  It also taught me to how to look after myself i.e. organising travel plans, washing and learning how to budget etc as well as making great friends.  I got the chance to abseil down a waterfall, climb Kilimanjaro, ride a camel, go kayaking and white water rafting on the Nile, swim with turtles and go snorkelling in Zanzibar and much more.

I think I also realised how there is so much more to life than going to university and getting a job, there's just so much to do and see!

What advice would you give to a school leaver thinking of taking a gap year before uni?

Go for it!!! University can wait; taking a gap year is an exciting opportunity that should be seized with both hands!

As a result of her gap year experience Becky Towers decided to read International Relations at Birmingham University.  Becky's placement in Uganda was arranged with Africa & Asia Venture.