Gap Year Travels In China
18 April 2013
On Tuesday 26 March, Jessica Howard Johnson, former student of St George's, came back to give a talk on opportunities for gap years. Her talk focused on her own gap year experience and was called 'Travels in China'. I know that after listening to her, I really wanted to go on my own gap year adventure. She showed us a short film of her time away; the footage showed a variety of different places she had been to, from beautiful landscapes to bustling city streets. Also Jessica gave us tips on planning our own gap year.
Her first tip looked at financing the trip. Jessica had four months of travelling. She funded this by having several part time jobs over seven months, ranging from babysitting to secretarial work for her father's business. She also advised looking at the website www.hostelworld.com as it suggests the best hostels to stay in for locations all over the world. Jessica also reminded us to check how many reviews the hostels have as there might be only one or two good reviews which might not be reputable. We were also told of the different types of travel Jessica used: in China she and her friend who travelled with her used mostly sleeper trains which can only be booked a week in advance. In Fiji Jessica travelled mostly by boat and in Africa either a four-by-four or by East African Bus. Jessica also pointed out that it was more fun traveling with a friend, as going to countries which don't speak English could become emotionally demanding; but going on your own has its own advantages as you can yourself decide where and when to go and what to do there.
When traveling in China, she also suggested the book China Lonely Planet which she used religiously while there, as it points out all the best places to visit. (A new edition is being released shortly) There are two ways to go when planning a gap year, Jessica told us, either plan it yourself by getting advice from people who have already had a gap year travelling, or use a gap year project organisation such as Project Trust (www.projecttrust.org.uk) which lets you travel to a variety of locations to spend up to a year gaining work experience through teaching, journalism or social care. It also allows you to add secondary projects to give a packed gap year. Jessica said both ways have benefits, but she used self-planning as she wanted the flexibility to change how long she stayed where as she went.
Seeing so many amazing places and meeting so many interesting and diverse people sounds like an adventure I think everyone at the talk wanted to go on! I know we were all really grateful for Jessica coming back to St George's and giving us this insightful and interesting talk. Her advice was invaluable for anyone planning their own gap year.
Megan Hammell, SCEN Ambassador
The next presentation at St George's in 'The Fascination of China' series will be by James Brodie who is the Scotland manager, and China Business Adviser, for the China-Britain Business Council. James will share with the students some of his own experiences of living and working in China.