In this article, we take a look at what makes Thailand a prime destination for your gap year, what you can expect when you arrive, and some top picks for gap year programs.
A Gap Year in Thailand
If you’re one of the thousands of American students who are taking a gap year off before, during, or after college, you’re definitely part of a growing trend. In fact, studies have shownthat gap years abroad help you to discover more about yourself. Whether you are a student or someone in between jobs or careers, spending a gap year abroad is a wonderful way to enhance your life by gaining a new perspective on another culture and the world.
By volunteering abroad, you get to see a side of a culture that many tourists don’t see. Volunteering with the right organization in a structured gap year program provides a host of benefits, namely: translators, hands-on guides to the heart of a city, and a relationship with a meaningful program that is dedicated to having a positive and lasting impact on the culture.
What You Can Expect Upon Arrival
Thailand is one of the world’s most visited destinations. With its exotic culture, intense nightlife, pristine beaches and delicious cuisine, Thailand is always a favorite. But on the other side of paradise is reality: many Thai people still struggle to make ends meet. Few families in distant provinces can afford to send their children to proper schools. Refugees in northern hilltops face many difficulties. The changing environment needs preservation–and so do the rare animal species of Thailand.
You may find, upon arrival in Bangkok, that the language is your first difficulty. Thai people have their own alphabet and unique way of writing. That’s another reason why volunteering with a trusted charity organization is a good idea. You’ll avoid miscommunication when you have a translator.
Expect a tropical, humid climate. It’s warm the whole year in Thailand, like in most Southeast Asian countries. The rainy season is May to October, with some monsoon and rain showers lasting for days. Most volunteers love visiting in January or February, when the air is cooler. April and May are the hottest months.
But Thais do love air conditioning! Malls, restaurants and classrooms in the city will usually have air conditioners. Plus, it’s cheap to buy comfy, loose-fitting clothes from the many street markets available.
In Thailand, you’ll eat flavorful meals every day. You might even pick up some Thai cooking tips with your host family!
Top Programs For A Gap Year In Thailand
Volunteer opportunities in Thailand range from working with ethnic hilltop tribes to raising environmental awareness and teaching English to kids. Below are some top programs available for gap year students:
Nikki Martinez · Guest Writer
Nikki Martinez was born to missionary parents who did full-time volunteer work in the Philippines, India and Thailand. She spent many years working with various charities in the Philippines--in orphanages, hospitals, disaster sites and the country's maximum security prison.