Work or Staycation: 5 Great Ideas for a Covid Gap YearSeptember 16, 2020

A foreign destination quickens your pulse, but travelling won't happen this year - and probably next year. You're gutted about it, not thrilled about your limited movement these past months. The pandemic would make you think twice about the upcoming term. You're thinking about deferring your entry, but the pandemic has put your gap year in a real quandary. It's not grim as you think, but it would require imagination and networking. This new normal means a different perspective.

You might be missing the road along the edge of the Pacific Ocean (or the Indian Ocean), where the water out there is calm and clear. You could almost see the sandy bottom under the water for a long way out and on the little strip of sand between you and the water there grows those trees waving their tops quite high up against the blue sky. A beautiful sight to recall during those gray mornings, but don't indulge in it. The beach is not a socially distanced gateaway, but the Outback is not an option either. (Airborne transmission can happen.) You were overthinking about the last few months. (In-person learning? Brilliant. Zoom learning? Boring. Face mask? Complicated.) Some students are looking forward to the new term despite the ever-changing data about the still mysterious coronavirus, and you're not one of those students. There are caveats, which prompts you to think about the gap year. 

A Handy Guide to Your Options

Workso you can save hard. Finding a job is a good reason to defer your entry, as you will need a financial cushion when you're about to start the term. It's the rarest commodity, which should settle that one-or-the-other dilemma. (Forget those places that smell of dung and cheap perfume, if not the sight of a grape farm.) A local version of Save the Student or Student Job can help you. Take your time in assessing your options while making sure that your shortlist of prospective workplaces conforms to guidelines on working safely during the pandemic. Remote work and reduce opportunities force many to save hard, so Covid-19's dire economic impact should make you aggressive in looking for a job.

Try everything. You can consider a field like hospitality. You can also try the Australian Defense Force. If you're desperate about joining a particular organisation, you can work for free. The goal is to have a head start, and any experience would make a great addition to your CV. In other words, don't pass up on those part-time opportunities. It might lead to other opportunities where your abilities and skills can be utilised. You may be one of those lucky teenagers who will be paid for doing something they are passionate about.

Volunteers will be in huge demand. There are hard-pressed charities, good causes and small businesses that need young volunteers. It might not offer the most intoxicating experiences that you (and your mates) are looking for, but there's uncertainty in volunteering abroad. Volunteering in Australia is more viable. Check out the nearest food bank. There's a local counterpart of the Coronavirus Tutoring Initiative in your state. And there's a need for volunteers to deliver supplies to people who are shielding. This is a good cause that you don't want to miss. 

Staycation. You can't resist the smell of adventure, if not yearn for India, where there's no such thing as solitude. Staycation is less fraught with danger, but it's not due to the low number of tourists. Boston offers university students a dose of the high life; think of renting out the entire floor of a hotel during the term. It ensures students remain socially distant. (If it clicks, then it can happen in Australia. A local hotel might have picked it up.) A hotel room should be the perfect place to think of destinations where the locals are more British than the Brits (or more Aussie than you).

5 books and 5 TV shows you're excited about this spring. Rick Riordan's "The Tower of Nero" will be out next month. The final book in the "Trials of Apollo" series will pit Apollo against his old nemesis, the Python, who guards the Oracle of Delphi. It's a mismatch, the god turned into an ordinary teenager (by Zeus himself), but the armchair adventure should be a cure for wanderlust. The trailer of the second season of BBC's "His Dark Materials" is out, and fans of Philip Pullman's trilogy are excited to see Cittagazze and the other (fantastic) worlds on the small screen (at least). You may want to subscribe to Disney+, as Anthony Mackie promised "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" to be as good as the past Marvel installments. If you want to know more of Black Lives Matter, you can reserve a copy of Walter Mosley's "The Awkward Black Man". You can also check "Leave the World Behind" (by Rumaan Alan), "Girls Against God" (by Jenny Hval) and "Can't Even: How Millennials Become the Burnout Generation" (by Anne Heler Peterson). Netflix offers Aussie TV shows (like "Glitch") while fans of "The Crown" can't wait for the next season. And a reality TV show is not a guilty pleasure during this time. Books should stir up your imaginative side while the telly is a good distraction. 

Why the Great Pause is a Benefit

The pandemic will make you think about your priorities, and the coursework must be on the top of your list. The above options should help you in thinking out of the box (and come up with other ideas). Get out of your comfort zone, so you can do new things and learn new skills. You will be ready for the next term or the term after next.

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