Reflections on Choosing a Gap Year

Every term at Sedbergh, we are fortunate to welcome four GAP students to Sedbergh School from all over the world. These students who have graduated Grade 12, act as associate faculty and work alongside the teaching staff to assist with both academic and extra-curricular activities.

One of our gap students, Lenka from Slovakia, recently published her experiences of being a GAP student at Sedbergh in the most recent edition of our parent’s newsletter the Valles Vox.

Instead of me telling you about the experiences and benefits of being a GAP student, Lenka has graciously offered to allow me share her article with AdmissionsQuest Boarding School Blog, onBoarding Schools.


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“When in doubt, go on a gap year” is probably what you would hear from a career advisor at your school if you are indecisive about your future. At least it’s what I heard when I couldn’t make my mind up about my course choices and university choices; I was very confused!

Eventually, I ended up applying for a GAP position and came to Sedbergh. To be a GAP at Sedbergh means to have three colleagues and to share the GAP wing with them for half a year.

The cohabitation in the GAP wing is running smoothly, which is impressive given the diversity of personalities that is to be found there. Our late arrival, Ryan, fits in very well with the rest of us. He’s the only Canadian that we have there and perhaps the very cultural mix of the other three GAPs (Germany, New Zealand and Slovakia) is what keeps him quiet in his room for a lot of the time.

Janina is from Germany and she really falls into the schema of what Germans are usually like: she’s very hard-working and efficient and we like to call her our “mom” (no one else except for her would be as kind as to do your laundry or ask you if you want a cup of tea, for example).

If Janina is the “mom” of the GAP wing, then I am definitely the loud and slightly annoying child. Luckily enough, there’s always Brendan around to calm me down; I suspect it’s his relaxed and nearly hippie-like approach imported from New Zealand that always keeps him happy and excited about everything, whether it’s a trip to the west coast of Canada or shepherd’s pie for lunch. You see, he never complains, even if he is absolutely groggy after hearing terrible jokes about him being from Australia for the whole day. What makes all of the GAPs constantly groggy though is “duty time.”

The shift starts at roughly 6:00 a.m. with “block” and ends at around midnight. Duty can be both fun time (if you get to go on an exciting trip) and rather boring time (if the trip is particularly uninteresting). For example, if you’re on a duty and you get to go on a high-ropes course for free, it’s a real blessing! Conversely, if you are asked to do something you are not as interested in, you might be a tiny bit disappointed. What will always get you through any kind of sorrow though is our common best friend, the key to the kitchen. It’s unbelievable, but at Sedbergh, food and drinks sometimes seem to be the most amazing things on the planet.

However, there are some things you just wish you had known before coming here. I wish I had known, for example, how early 6:00 a.m. is after three months of summer holidays or after going to bed at 1:00 a.m. when duty is finished. On a practical note, we all wish that shoe shops back at home would have a special Canadian section offering specialized shoes for the conditions here. But it’s all good – there’s always the Outdoor Education room to help you out with anything you need.

To have to get up early in the mornings and stand outside for about half an hour doesn’t sound like the most appealing thing, does it? Surprisingly though, it’s very nice to watch the sun rise from the Sedbergh sign down on the road or be the first one to walk in the snow. It’s definitely fun being a GAP at Sedbergh, but perhaps that’s just the hippie influence of my New Zealander colleague coming through.

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Mr. Cory Awde, AdmissionsQuest’s first Canadian blogger. Mr. Awde is the Director of Marketing and Admissions at Sedbergh School, in Montebello, Quebec Canada. Before completing a MA in Communication at the University of Ottawa (MA, 2008), Cory held various roles within the recruitment and liaison office at his Alma Mater, Brock University (BSM, 2005).

  • What an interesting spin on the Gap Year, Cory. Is this a long standing program? I can't say that I've come across a similar program on a boarding school campus. Nicely done.

  • Yeah it is a longstanding program that I thnk both the GAP Students and our students get a lot out of.

Mr. Cory Awde is the Director of Marketing and Admissions at Venta Preparatory School, in Ottawa, Ontario. Before completing a MA in Communication at the University of Ottawa (MA, 2008), Cory held various roles within the recruitment and liaison office at his Alma Mater, Brock University (BSM, 2005) & Sedbergh College.

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