Stepping out on your own after a lifetime in education is both a daunting and exciting step for many students taking a break from academia to explore the big wide world. Last month we heard from Millie Laker, final year student, about her travels in India, Nepal, Thailand and Cambodia.
This month we find out what she really learnt from her travels…
Was it wise to go on a gap year with your closest friends?
Ha, so many people asked me this question. We went out to party and I think there was only 3 nights out of 4 months where we didn’t go out. We’ve made some amazing memories and thankfully it has brought us closer and strengthened our friendship. So, although it worked for us, I can see how people fall out. The first thing we learnt to spot was when our friends got “hangry” (that’s hungry and angry!), if anyone was getting annoyed it was usually just that and we knew we needed to stop and find food. I guess you will bicker and squabble but because you are out there together, you have to get on and that kind of feels like growing up a bit, regulating yourself and looking out for everyone else.
What was the best party?
It has to be the Thailand full moon party – thousands and thousands of people turn up to this beach. People travel to the island just for that. We kind of fell upon it and didn’t realise what a big thing it was at the time. All I can say is it is crazy busy, and you drink out of buckets so you have to be really careful no-one spikes your drink.
Coolest thing you saw?
We spent a whole week in this really cool hostel in Vietnam called Castaways, the best thing about it was you could go for a night time swim and see the water light up blue from the plankton. You would just be swimming in complete darkness and they would say to shake your hands and then there’s all this blue light!
How did travelling change you?
I think for me it just felt like 100% independence. Sometimes who you are is all tied up with what school you go to and what year you’re in whereas travelling meant I got to mix with people from all different ages who were travelling at the same time and I gained a lot of confidence from meeting new people and cultures. It felt nice to not have an identity that’s linked to my age group.
Top tip for friends looking to do the same?
I think there is really something behind that phrase safety in numbers, because there was 6 of us, we could split up and still feel that the others were safe, either 2 groups of 3 or 3 groups of 2. That also gave us flexibility to see more of what we wanted to see.
Just take it easy and don’t have too much of a plan, you never know where it might take you!