Saturday, June 03, 2006

The glory of "Gap year"

Today's New York Times had an article on the increased pressure on graduating high school seniors as they prepare for college. Just as pressure on American youth is increasing, so it seems to move in the opposite direction for British and Australian youth. In the 19th century, the wealthy young took "The Grand Tour," during which they traveled around Europe and met people in those countries. During the 20th century, young people who were bound for Oxford or Cambridge, with the Universities' encouragement, worked at a job or travelled around Europe or even the world during a "gap year". Now in the UK and Australia, it has become a rite of passage to, either before any University or after graduating, travel for a year and meet local people. During this year, the young people have the opportunity to gain some maturity and awareness of the world. I believe that by not doing this, Americans miss a lot. Even when Americans spend "a year abroad" it is usually in an organized group, while people from Australia or the UK will travel alone or with one friend. It has become so important that there are even websites devoted to it, such as:

As pressure on people increases in the US, so does it become more manageable in Europe. Europeans are becoming more cosmopitan faster than Americans are.

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