Gap Year = Waste Time? | ZULA ChickChats | Ep 91On February 23, 2020 by Raul Dinwiddie
When I first told my mum that I actually- am thinking about doing Comms right, she was actually, “Huh? Na ge shen mo lai de? (What is that?)” Like she thinks I’m going to be, like, starving artist like that. – Oh no, okay okay okay.
– Starving artist. Hi, I’m Jie. Hi, I’m Caitlin. Hi, I’m Denise. Hi, I’m Leah and this is ZULA ChickChats! Hi guys, welcome to this episode of ChickChats- and in today’s episode, we’ll be talking about- going on a gap year and first of all, I’ll start off by defining what is a gap year la, okay? So, a gap year is a period, typically an academic year, taken by a student as a break between school- and university or college education. Before we start right, why did you guys decide to take a gap year? ‘Cause I always hear stories of like, oh people go uni then end up- – never use their university degree, right?
– Okay. So then I was thinking, if I’m going to spend all this money doing a degree right, I should be doing something that I’m interested in, that I know I can do well in because- you do better in things you enjoy. – I believe la, I believe.
– Yup, right. If I can dabble in the field first, before doing my degree also, I feel more set la like, for after I come out from my degree. I actually enlisted last year. – So, my gap year wasn’t like-
– Oh, wow. wasn’t, like, intended. I just realised it really wasn’t for me. I wanted to be somewhere else where like, I can express creative juices. By the time I left [the force], the [university] intake had already closed, and I hadn’t applied for, like, local Us (universities), I had applied only for overseas Us. I took a gap year because- I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, after I graduated [from] poly like, whether I wanted to work full-time, whether I wanted to go full-time uni, or maybe part-time- part-time uni and work? Okay so, what did you guys do during your gap year actually? I went for, like, spin class, I did, like, online classes. I went to help out in church. So, I was doing a lot of youth ministry, and then, I eventually went on a mission trip. When I came back, I went to work at S.E.A. Aquarium. I was a part-time tour guide there. Erm, led tours for kids and- taught them about the fish and the non-fish. So cute! It was all accumulated in like, December and November. November, December, everything was like- *intense sounds* – like packed inside.
– Oh, wow. Okay nice. This July I’m going to uni. Hopefully, NTU Wee Kim Wee. All the best! I was actually on a two-year gap year. November was the A-Levels, then January I started my internship. But, because I was never like, trained in creative work all this kind of stuff right? So, I think during the two years, I really got to learn a lot in my own time, and then, figure out really whether this is where I want to go la. After I left TSL, I actually went to study at LASALLE. I started with a diploma, ’cause it’s only a five year thing. If I do the accredited- If I get the accredited learning. But then, end up, my parents say, “Eh you don’t waste time with diploma la. Can you, like, faster go do [a] degree?” I tried to switch to a degree programme but then, – that didn’t work out in the end-
– Okay. because of complications like admin stuff in school. I also worked at this cafe last year. I did creative work for them la, – then I managed their social media also.
– Oh, okay. – Then, they paid me $8 per hour,
– Okay? – which is not our industry rate.
– A bit low. I think I got to meet a lot of people,
actually, through that. So, and I think, like, forming connections is something that- – is very important in our industry la.
– Ya. But, I think it was- ’cause my financial situation at home- is not that great la. So, in the end, because of, like, pressure from my parents also, like they were saying, “How come you’re getting paid so little?” – That kind of stuff.
– Ah… Then eventually, I decided like, “Oh, maybe I should look to, like, work elsewhere instead lor.” Then that was coincidentally when- Bryan texted me lor. Then I came back to freelance- and, like, eventually converted. For me, I was 20 when I took my gap year. So, I graduated from poly, I did a very com (computer) design base. So I was doing, like, graphic design, advertising. When I graduated, I [didn’t] really know what to do ’cause- my sister did banking, and then, you know, like, IT was on the rise and all that stuff. So I considered that as well. I spent about a month, like, doing my own thing ’cause- I still had a part-time job at that time. When I spoke to my friend, she actually convinced me that- I should maybe try out applying for TSL- because she knew that I liked videos. And hence, I applied. And then, with twists and turns, here I still am, after two years. So I think the next question right, is- how did you tell your parents that- you wanted to take a gap year? I think my parents thought it was, like, a good thing for me also. Because before this, I actually wanted to take a degree in Psychology. They don’t force me to do anything la but, in terms of, like, Psychology, they were like, “What are you going to do after that?” Ya, so, I guess they were happy about me- taking some time to just really explore. I think they weren’t the most- happy about it ’cause most of my friends, in fact all of my friends, at that time from secondary school- they all went to JC. So, technically, I’m already one year behind. But then, I think they were still okay with it ’cause- it was very evident that- I didn’t know what I wanted to do and- I think they weren’t keen on me, like, just anyhow enrolling also. Like, I enrol, then I do one year, then I quit that kind of thing. Then I’ll just keep going back and forth. When I did the internship, they were at least satisfied with the fact that, I was still at least trying out something. When I first told my mum that I actually- am thinking about doing comms right, she was actually, “Huh? Na ge shen mo lai de? (What is that?)” Like she think I’m going to be, like, starving artist like that. – Oh no, okay okay okay.
– Starving artist. She already wasn’t very happy, which is also why I ended up going to- like, still applying for LASALLE, even though I did internship and- I much rather prefer to be, like, working la. But then, because I come from A-Levels, so is like- A-Levels versus diploma. Diploma can go and work already, – A-Levels is like-
– Very hard. Ya. That’s why I went to LASALLE, but then in the end, I dropped out. So, it was kind of like, she cannot help it. How did, like, people around you react? Like your friends, relatives- – Was it positive, negative? Oh, seems very negative.
– Ya. Erm, wah…. – What happened? Oh my God. Damn.
– Chinese New Year. When I talked to my relatives, they’re like, “Huh? Gap year ah?” and you know like, – gap year always comes with this negative connotation.
– Right, yes. “You cannot get into uni is it?” “Stop wasting time la honestly, go do something with your life.” I will just say like, “I did this, I did this.” They like, “Oh, okay, you did a lot of stuff!” – Paiseh, paiseh.
– Ya. Give you ang bao (red packet). They’re actually very curious after that like, – “At your job, what do you do?” Ya.
– Oh, okay. Nice. I have this friend right, since the time that I left (my previous job), every time when we talk about, like, our lives, she will always, like, subtly say things like, “Oh… Ya la, you’re different la you know? We’re, like, on different tiers.” Ya, so like, I feel it? But, I know that- maybe it’s not intentional ’cause it’s very, very subtle. So, going through this gap year experience right, what was, kind of like, the biggest lesson- that you all learnt from it? Learn to adult sia. I immediately started working already. It really was a lot of like, learning to manage my own finances. I’ve been working right, I save up all this money and then I go part-time uni right, I’m paying my own uni, – I don’t need to loan from bank also.
– Yesssss. And I think I really value being able to be in school now. I think, like, the biggest takeaway for me is that- it’s really okay to do a gap year. Like, ignore the stigmas, ignore, like, you being behind- ’cause, like, one thing that really affected me was- seeing all my friends, like what you said like, going ahead with their lives, you know? Like some days, during your gap year, you’re really just- you don’t know what to do. I was very lost. But then, looking back at it, it’s really so important- that I did it to grow and to explore- and, like, have fun also la. When you do a gap year, you really must plan. Like, don’t just jump into a gap year because- we say that it’s good and we say, like, you will grow. Really plan what you want to do so that- you can really make the most out of your gap year. I think the biggest lesson for me was- I think self-growth also. ‘Cause when I got the full-time job, it was like, doing things that I never really did, for example like, taking a more, like, management, leadership kind of position. I think the second biggest thing was- learning how to manage my own time. It was trying to manage work and- also doing things outside of that- making sure that my life was not just- work, work, work, work, work. Okay, so you shared a bit about, like, what you enjoyed most about it right? So, what do you dislike about it? I think for me, it was probably the- being very worried, like unsure, because of my A-Levels. Like you have [a] diploma to fall back on that kind, then- I’m constantly stressed that I need a degree, I need a degree, I need a degree. Plus my parents also. I think the first part of the gap year when- still trying to figure out what I want to do, I really, really hated that part. I dreaded waking up to nothing. Okay, so moving on to the next part right, I actually posted on the ZULA IG, as well as like my own IG right, to ask people, like, if they have any questions about- taking a gap year. The first question is, “How long should you take a gap year- before returning to school?” I feel like, – one or two years is, like, a good time.
– Mmm, okay. For me, I wouldn’t- I wouldn’t want to drag it out too long because- I want to finish my degree also, and then just get on with life. I think, like, a very practical thing to note also- is, like, the uni cycle. Don’t let your gap year eat into uni cycle, then you end up having to take- another year just for that. The next question right, that a lot of people ask is, “Is it easy to bounce back into studying?” I feel like it depends on the course you take as well- ’cause for me, during poly I was very used to assignment-based [work]. And then, even working itself, it’s- I would say it’s project-based as well. And then when I got back into uni, which are assignment-based essentially. So, to get back to that- didn’t feel very hard. I think it was more of- coming to the realisation that, a lot of things you have to do outside of class time. So you have to read, like, the lecture slides, the lecture notes, that kind of stuff. For uni I think right at the start right, they give you all the deadlines, all everything already. So, I think that really helps in terms of, like, planning out your time. Because I know nine to six, I’m going to be working. Then I have to be setting aside time lor. So I think it’s really, like, self-discipline. Like especially because I go back from work, I can be like, “Wah, today damn shag, maybe I do tomorrow instead.” But then, I think that would like, make my work start piling up la. Especially now, I take my gap year, so I really know that this is what I’m interested in, is what I want to do right, when I go back to school, it’s a lot easier also ’cause I’m much more interested- in the things that I’m learning. Another question that was asked is like, “How much importance do unis give to, like, gap years?” So, for example, will your application be considered different- if you take a gap year? – It’s not, like, a declaration thing but like,
– Okay. they will ask you la like, – “So, in [the] past year, like, what have you been doing?”
– Oh! “Why did you not come straight to uni?” That kind of thing. I think they don’t really care that, oh, you actually went to take [a] gap year but they went- What they’re thinking is, did this person make good use of their time. If my course, like, the application requires me to send like- my resume or my portfolio, I would imagine that, like, the additional stuff that I have done- would give me a, like, much more solid portfolio, compared to those who just come out from like, A-Levels. So I think regarding applications to uni right, maybe if you do an internship, or maybe- honestly even if you work a part-time job, you can ask your managers, ask your supervisors for recommendation letters, which I think would help like, – substantiate your application la.
– It helps a lot. Someone asked, “Should you prioritise travelling- or should you prioritise doing a part-time job?” Gap year is not just like, one month, two month. – It’s quite a significant amount of time.
– Ya. I wouldn’t say, like, prioritising would be the right word, but more of, making sure that you do both. So maybe, if you don’t have enough funds, you work first, maybe a few months? And then when you have the funds, – you go and travel.
– Ya. I think maybe if t’is like, you’re coming straight out of school, then maybe take some to travel, rest. On the holiday, you can mentally plan like, “Oh, I want to do this, I want to do that,” or like- you see things overseas that- maybe might interest you also. I have this friend actually. She’s also on her gap year. You see her Instagram right, – she’s, like, constantly travelling.
– Okay. But then, you realise that actually, she’s doing very, very meaningful things. So recently, she went overseas to do some- underwater conservation thing. I think even if like, you want to travel all the way, and maybe you’re interested in something like- photography or videography, and then, while you’re travelling, you take those photos, – that builds your portfolio as well la.
– That’s true, that’s true. Okay actually, the last question, “Is it good to take a gap year- if I’m not sure of where I should be going after O-Levels?” I think you should talk to your parents. – Yes, talk to your parents. You’re 16.
– Have a discussion. Alternatively, if like, you’re not comfortable sharing with your parents, I think you can still go back- to your secondary school teachers. – Someone that you’re comfortable with.
– And a lot of schools now also have- career guidance counsellors. What my advice would be, even though I never did it right, would be that- you try either JC or poly first. So, the one that you’re most inclined to go to right, you try it for maybe one, two months. You can always drop out of that, and then, like, maybe swap to poly if you’re not sure. I have seen so many people do this change right, and there’s not as much negative consequence to it. The only thing would probably be- if you’re behind your friends if you took JC for one year. But, at the same time, I see a lot of people become much happier- after they find something they really like. I think, like, one thing that I realise now, is really right, it doesn’t matter. Like people back then might have thought like, “Eh, I like- My results not good that’s why I never go to school.” that kind of stuff. But then, now is like, “Oh, I’m earning money eh.” You know? Like I’m working. I’m where I want to be in life. You can always be successful in your own route, – don’t have to follow the traditional route-
– Ya, correct. to be successful. Okay, so with that said, we’ve come to the end of today’s episode. – So, ya. So, that’s great.
– Yay. Today we talked about like, going through a gap year, like the pros and cons, like their experience and you know, answering some of your questions and giving erm- – hopefully beneficial advice.
– Hopefully. Ya. So, if you guys want to see any more like, school related topics, or erm, any topics that you are interested in, please leave a comment down below. And also don’t forget to like share and subscribe. Bye bye!