5 Reasons You Need to Shut Up and Take a Gap Year


When I look back at my life, I realize that there were quite a few things on my checklist that I wanted to accomplish during my high school years – but I didn’t due to fear. When I was a junior in high school, I was admitted to a program which would allow me to spend my senior year studying in Germany . Did I do it? Nope. After turning down this experience, I applied to do a gap year after graduation, because I felt ambitious and ready. Did I do it? Nope. I was stunted by this idea of a trajectory that I was destined to follow, which was simply untrue. College isn’t the only “next step” after high school. There are options.

Now these missed opportunities have turned into minor regrets. This said, DON’T be like me. Be like the six brilliant people below who took advantage of that Shut Up and Go mentality and just went for it. Here are five reasons you’ve just got to Shut Up and Take a Gap Year.


Work on projects that you’re actually passionate about.

“During my gap year abroad, I worked with my host mother on a women’s economic empowerment initiative, which was a sewing class for women who hadn’t received traditional forms of education. They would come to the course and learn skills like how to tailor, embroider, and make jam. We hosted a series of workshops and daily courses that were a few months long. After I left Senegal, I continued working on this project with my host mother and was eventually awarded the Davis Project for Peace with it.”

Julia | Senegal 

Take a darn moment to breathe (again).

“One of the things that stood out to me in Ecuador is that there is a ton of nature. When I was younger, I really loved to be outside. But once I got to high school and had a bigger workload, I lost touch with this side of myself. During my time in Ecuador, I got to reconnect with this side of me through hiking and spending time in nature. I learned to appreciate my surroundings, look around,  and truly appreciate the beauty around me.”

Jeffrey | Ecuador

You finally get time to work on YOU. 

“This gap year in India had really been an emotional journey. It helped me to look inward and how that can carry on with the physical manifestation of things and what I want for myself. In Indian culture, one of the values is treating yourself right, and the country had changed me for the better [in that sense].”

Danielle | India 

“During my time in Brazil, I got the opportunity to center myself and to explore all aspects of my personality without the pressure of having to go to my next class or worrying about applying to colleges. I simply just focused on myself and got to be introspective.” 

Deonte | Brazil 

Meet cool people and finally practice that language you’ve been learning, but never had the chance to use.

“I wanted to get really good at speaking the language, so I decided to read the entire Percy Jackson series in Portuguese. Also,  I met a lot of cool people, but I specially loved meeting the vendors who would set up stalls to sell their art work. Two people who really stood out to me were Cris and João who helped me practice Portuguese and told me stories about being nomads and traveling across South America.”

Elise | Brazil



I simply just focused on myself and got to be introspective

In just one year, you’ll get a lifetime of cool moments to reminisce on.

“One of the reasons I decided to go to Senegal to begin with is because I knew of Senegal for something called  ‘teranga.’ This means hospitality… and I found nothing less than that when I went. When I would walk around, I’d be approached by the kindest people, and my camera roll really reflects that from all of the random selfies I have of people I didn’t even get the pleasure of knowing too well.”

Mouna | Senegal


Stop playing games and take the next steps to become a Global Citizen Year Fellow.

Make sure to apply by March 15th to be considered for the special Global Citizen Year X Shut Up and Go scholarship.



Click on the post above, then:
– follow @shutupandgo
– follow @globalcitizenyr
– tag 3 friends (and apply to Global Citizen Year)

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