"Keep your options open" when choosing your gap-year

Posted on 6th Jan 2017 in Italy, Art History Abroad, my gap-year, Learning Abroad

Charlie joined Art History Abroad’s (AHA) 2-week Northern Italy Summer Course straight after leaving school and went on to complete their 6-week Early Summer Gap Year Course in April 2015. Charlie returned to Italy with AHA again this summer on their Southern Italy Summer Course.

Why I wanted to take a gap year?

Having spent 8 years at boarding school I was very keen to get out of England and spend time away from education, exams and the consistently average weather. I was also due to have an operation on my shoulder and wanted to get it done before I went to university. My three elder siblings all thoroughly enjoyed their gap years so I was pretty sure before I left school that I would do the same.

How I found my gap year project?

Two of my elder siblings had done Art History Abroad and both gave rave reviews. AHA also had a stand at my school’s gap year fair with an exhibition of photos showing where they went and what they did, which frankly looked incredible!

How I raised the money I needed?

I spent most of July and August and all the following 3 months working for an agricultural contractor in Yorkshire

The story of my gap year

I started working as soon as I left school to save some money for AHA’s 2 week Northern Italy course. Definitely worth it! Travelling to Venice, Florence and Rome with plenty saved up meant I could spend more on the Italians’ breath-taking culinary skills. I’m no art historian but if you stand in front of pieces like Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and Raphael’s ‘School of Athens’ without thinking “this is pretty awesome” then you’re looking in the wrong direction! 

After this course I went back to work in England and started saving up for an excursion to Australia to stay with my Aunt and Uncle in Sydney from January to March. In the merry Land of Oz I volunteered at a charity, ChildFund, and spent most of my funds learning to Scuba dive and taking every subsequent opportunity to do so.

When I got back to England I again returned to working for the same contractor to replenish my funds for another AHA course, this time 6 weeks starting in Verona and ending in Naples, staying in the major cities (Florence, Siena, Rome, Venice etc etc) along the way. This was undoubtedly the highlight of my year off. 

Everyone on this course was on a gap year; there were about 16 of us and we immediately got along and looked forward to spending 6 weeks together. In essence we spent the days seeing awesome pieces of art and architecture and the nights eating amazing food followed by a trip to the local bar/bars. The tutors were fantastic! Apart from knowing loads about art/architecture/history etc. they’d always take us to local hangouts and even the prime spots for a killer Neapolitan sunrise. They are honestly some of the nicest and most entertaining people I’ve ever met. 

I was properly gutted to leave everyone on the course and return to England but was stoked to be heading to uni in September. I spent the rest of the summer working and spending the money on some festivals.

My advice to those thinking of taking a gap year

Don’t write anything off and keep your options open. If you’re considering going to Italy or you want to see some amazing art and architecture you should definitely look very closely at AHA. 

To find out more about Art History Abroad click here