Date Posted... Nov 13th 2020

How to take a gap year

One our most recent cohort of school leavers, Maisie Vincent (CO20) joined Mrs Kenward on Teams for a gap year talk as part of the Careers Programme.

This academic year, Maisie jetted off to Bangkok, Thailand to start a year-long working gap year at Shrewsbury International School working mostly as a Teaching Assistant and Outreach Officer, but gets stuck in where she can.

Around this time last year, Maisie started to put out feelers for gap year opportunities, introducing herself through emails, one of which to the school she now works in, before any vacancies were even posted. She advised to ‘be proactive and make the first move’. Her proactiveness was commented on in her interview and was awarded with her being given the job.

Maisie explained: “I have a say ‘yes’ attitude. It’s important to be flexible, and be open to anything because they’re looking for passion and willing to learn.”

Mrs Kenward asked Maisie why she chose the gap year route, and the new Old Truronian said: “I wanted more world experience outside of Cornwall and the UK before I go to uni, and to also network and make connections.”

Having secured her placement, Maisie set about learning the very basics of Thai during the summer lockdown and has continued taking Thai classes now she’s out there.

She said: “A little effort goes a really long way. Local people are really appreciative if you try. I’ve made friends with a group of Thai university students so I practice with them and they practice their English with me.”

But as you can imagine, travelling all that way on her own in the middle of a global pandemic was not easy and she had to face many challenges. Having sorted her visas but with their borders closed, Maisie had to gain special permission from the Thai government to enter. There were no outbound flights except one specially chartered flight for staff working in international schools in the country.

It has now been a couple of months and Maisie is feeling more settled than when she first arrived. Her flatmates work at the same school, and through networking also has friends in other international schools, as well as the group of local university students who she says has ‘helped her to see more of Bangkok off the tourist trail’.

Like here, Maisie has half terms and holidays off, which gives her the chance to see more of Thailand including picture-perfect beaches.
She said: “At first I was a little nervous travelling around but now I wouldn’t think twice. I receive a stipend of roughly £200 a month, which in Thailand is enough to live on so I can afford to book hotels and hostels. I also don’t have any living costs as part of my job so that’s something I’d recommend looking for in a gap year placement.”

We look forward to hearing more from Maisie’s adventures, and for any students who missed it or would like to listen again the talk was recorded and can be found here.