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Taking a Year Out

Thursday 19 June 2008 Trends

Nina Collins spent 11 months travelling after completing a degree in Media & Popular Culture at Leeds Metropolitan University. I’m not sure when I officially decided to go travelling but it was something that I had thought about for a few years. It was a very easy decision for me to make.

Travelling is a great experience

I travelled by myself for a few months and spent time travelling with a uni friend. I think this is the best way to do it if people can manage it. Travelling alone is a great experience that I think everyone should do, but it’s great to meet up with my friend now and reminisce. 

Out of Africa

I managed to visit Ethiopia,  South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Bali, Singapore, Malaysia and of course Thailand. I spent six weeks in Ethiopia and managed to travel around for most of the time because I had contacts there to help me out.

Ethiopia is a very beautiful country and is really worth a visit but it would be very difficult to meet other travellers there. I landed in Cape Town in South Africa and completely fell in love with the place.  It has great independent shops and cafes and a great music scene.  From there I travelled the Garden Route which was amazing – surfing, pot-holing, and riding ostriches! 

Going down under

In Oz I spent 6 months in Sydney. This is a great city to hang around in. I spent loads of time chilling in the Botanical Gardens or on Bondi Beach. There are always loads of fun events going on to get involved with. It’s also easy to get work in Sydney as there are recruitment agencies that cater specifically for travellers. 

New Zealand is the place to be!

New Zealand was definitely the best country I visited.  Everyone should go!  The countryside is amazing, from sandy beaches to snow-topped mountains. The list of things to do in New Zealand is never-ending – skiing, snow-boarding, quad biking, hiking, sky-diving (the cheapest around I think) and all the Lord of The Rings style activities you can think of. 

New Year's Eve in Sydney

New Year's Eve in Sydney, was the best part of my trip. Everyone from our hostel (about 50 people) headed down to a spot on the other side of the harbour where we had a perfect view of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

We sat there in the sunshine from 3.00pm until 1.00am and watched both sets of fireworks in a very festival like atmosphere. Then we headed down to Bondi Beach and carried on drinking while we waited for the sun to rise. Without doubt one of the best 24 hours of my life. 

On the other hand... Cape Town

On the other hand, the first few days on my own in Cape Town were excruciating. I remember feeling incredibly uncomfortable and spending far too much time in internet cafes desperately hoping that someone required a very long and detailed email about…something.

On my first night alone I forced myself to go and sit in the communal room and struggled to make conversation with other travellers. I’m sure that most people go through this when they first go travelling but the uncomfortable feeling passes very quickly and all of a sudden you don’t think twice about going to sit with a random group of travellers and inviting yourself out with them for the day. 

Gap Year travelling improved my confidence

Travelling improved my confidence a huge amount. It’s hard to explain but I find that I’m not bothered about doing some tasks which other people avoid. I also don’t get as embarrassed about things anymore and I am always comfortable speaking my mind. 

I think travelling is a good thing on anyone’s CV as it shows a strong, determined and confident person. I definitely showed more initiative and confidence than other new starters at our company.  

Go Gap Year travelling if you have the option to

I would advise other graduates thinking of travelling abroad to do it, do it, do it! Also, don’t let the travel agencies persuade you to buy tour packages for certain countries.  You may find someone to drive around with and not want to go on a bus tour at all.  You can decide what is best for you when you get there.