It had been 5 years since I came back from Fontainebleau when I was desperately looking for an opportunity to set foot in Europe again. I was moving jobs in April 2008 and hence took the opportunity to plan my first international vacation from India. It didn’t really feel like a first time because of all the traveling I did when I was in Fontainebleau but there were people who were surprised I was taking an ‘abroad’ vacation! Wasn’t that reserved for the upper class? Don’t ask me what they thought when I went on a girls fortnight out to Eastern Europe with Ms.N, but then I was too happy too care.
One of the things I keep googling about these days is the concept of a gap year. My mind has played the scene umpteen times where I ask my boss for my gap year – I think about it almost every other day, but I am still not sure I will do it! Anyways, what I was saying is there are tons and tons of information, personal experiences and dedicated websites from Europeans and Americans. There are even families that travel and home school their kids. I know, whatay experience for the kids!
But nothing from the Indians, almost nothing from the Asians.
Is this because Indians are still trying to figure out travel?
I have had colleagues who are proud of the fact that they don’t take holidays from work and get bored at home even during the mandatory block leave period and end up coming to office! Whoosh, kill them. One of the things I love about my London office is how everyone takes 2 weeks off in August and December + a ski vacation in Feb!
But the travel bug is beginning to bite people in India – I can see almost all my friends taking time off from work even if it is just for a week. Even it is somewhere near by. Some of them are even venturing abroad.
Well, I do understand that not everyone has the finances to plan a vacation abroad every year. But believe me, at least a trip inside our vast country (outside of the home city) every year is an experience to remember.
I am proud of my friends A&J who have acted on their dream. A has taken a sabbatical and J has quit his work to travel abroad and India for 3 months. They are having the time of their life and have given me belief that this can be done. A gap quarter. This is the closest to a gap year I know in India.
Even if the attitude changes and everyone does take vacations, I think the gap year is still too far for Indians. The biggest fear people have about taking a break from the career, is the career. Will the recruiters look at it as a ‘gap in the career’ or an ‘experience that would add to the resume’?
The other big challenge is the number of visas we need with an Indian passport (that the Europeans and Americans don’t need). Every embassy will ask for a letter from the employer, which is going to be a challenge during the gap year. Especially given one can’t apply for all the visas before embarking on the around the world journey (Most countries require you to apply for the visa within 3 months of the travel date). This is where the British Passport lures me!
As I dream of my gap year and dream of my travel based career, here is to hoping that there are more Indian dreams that want to experience the world and take gap years.
PS: Do leave me a comment with links to any gap year experiences you have written / read. If there are any around the world experiences by an Indian passport holder, I am even more eager to hear / read the story.