After school finished, I travelled around Europe with some friends from school and also family.
In September, I went to the Orchards Cookery School in Worcestershire for 2 weeks. This was absolutely brilliant and was specifically for doing a ski season. Orchards are great and help with job applications e.g looking at CVs, giving interview training, helping with menu planning and ski companies really view Orchards cookery school highly.
In October, I spent the most amazing month in Florence where I studied Beginners Italian and History of Art at the British Institute. I lived in a self catering flat with another girl (one of my great friends now!) and it was so wonderful to live abroad and experience a whole new city and culture on my own! Honestly, this month was my favourite part of my gap year without a doubt and I came back wanting to change my university course. I am now going to read French and Italian (ab initio) - this meant I had to phone up Bristol and sort that all out.
I spent the next two months after Florence trying (and failing) to get a job in a coffee shop - no one wanted me! So I set up a little catering business and earned money through doing that and babysitting.
January marked the start of my adventure as a Chalet Girl. Unfortunately, I couldn't start work until I was 18 so I was an over recruit for Workaseason (a recruiting company for Ski Total, Inghams and Esprit) and left for the Alps in January. I spent 3 1/2 months working as a Chalet Girl in Courchevel and although it is very, very hard work (9/10 hour days), it was great fun and a really eye opening experience to the world of work.
I spent 5 weeks in Kenya volunteering in a school both teaching and building with AfricaAsiaVenture. This was an amazing experience and certainly one I will never forget. I was able to really experience Kenya and do so many different things at the weekend (go on safari, visit a marine wildlife park, etc.)
My last hoorah before university was working at the Book Festival as a Front of House Assistant. I loved this job - it was so much fun and a great way to finish my gap year.
I loved my gap year and can't recommend one highly enough! I was able to study, work and volunteer - I tried to make it as varied as I could and I think I succeeded! I feel so much more prepared for university and now can't wait to get started and get the grey matter working again!
All that in one year, Mary! There’s something for everyone and a gap year can be really important if planned well.