Ways to educate yourself during a gap year

Not ready to start university, but still want to learn? Contiki offer five tips on how you can educate yourself, while enjoying yourself, before starting on your formal tertiary education.

With more young people opting to take a gap year before university, Contiki noted that young people are taking a more value focused approach to higher education. Some are choosing to learn about the world independently, and arrive at university “more mature, worldly and ready to learn.”

Contiki has created the No Regrets List, the results of two months of global surveys with the aim of better understanding millennials. The list illustrates the travel preferences for millennial and Gen Z about life, travel, education, friendships and more.

A highlight of the research was that one fifth of young people would prefer to travel prior to starting university or college. To help out those who are hungry for life and knowledge but not quite ready for further their formal education, Contiki has some suggestions to help you broaden your mind on your own time and in your own way.

  1. Independent learning

While you may not want to dive straight into university and start your formal studies, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to learn. The survey by Contiki revealed that many young people understand the importance of broadening and enriching their mind.

There are a number of websites that offer online learning, with courses ranging from a few weeks to a few months on a variety of topics. Contiki suggested Coursera, an online learning platform that has partnered with more than 145 institutions of higher learning from around the world including John Hopkins University and the University of London. The course fees are in dollars, and vary depending on the selected course, with courses starting from $29 (R405.56), and specialisations starting at $250 (R3, 496.24).

There are a range of other local and international learning resources available. In South Africa GetSmarter offers a range of courses which run for about eight to ten weeks. They have partnered with several tertiary partners, including the University of Cape Town, and the University of the Witwatersrand. Course vary in price, starting from about R9,500.

“This form of independent learning can be a great way to get a flavour for a college course without actually committing to it, or just learning something new for the heck of it,” said Contiki.

  1. Learn to cook

Not only is it a valuable life skill, but learning to cook and also give you a sense of accomplishment and can help you relax when you are stressed.

“An appreciation for food and the importance of a varied, balanced diet is something that millennials value more than their parents did at a similar age. Learning to cook, whether it’s a gastro basics class or deep dive into a specific national cuisine, can be a hugely rewarding experience and something you’ll maintain for years to come,” stated Contiki.

The Contiki survey found that almost 60% of young people view food and culinary experiences as important, and one of the most important type of experiences to them.

While there are a number of professional and full-time cooking and chef schools around South Africa, for those wanting to dabble, there are options for you too. Cook @ Home offers courses in both Gauteng and the Western Cape, Yuppiechef offers online cooking classes, and the Pick n Pay Good Food Studios are based in Cape Town and Johannesburg and offer classes with a range of themes or types of cuisine.

  1. Read

For some this is a passion and a hobby, however, it is also a wonderful way to learn new things and expand your mind. There are books available on almost any topic available, and the best part is you can pick and choose what you want to read.

Contiki revealed: “In recent years the swathes of E-Readers available to us have prompted resurgence in reading’s cool kudos, with many more of us reading books in the tens than in the noughties. This is mirrored in the results of Contiki’s survey, in which almost 50% of young people claimed that ‘actually reading books’ is a defining feature of their generation.”

If you don’t want to visit the bookshop yourself, there are a range of shopping websites that stock thousands of books. Takealot.com offers an array of books covering multiple topics, Loot.co.za also sells an assortment of titles, both fiction and non-fiction. If you want to stick with old-fashioned bookstores, Exclusive Books also has a website.

Not sure what book to read or if the book you’re considering is any good? Good Reads allows you to share your book recommendations and make recommendations of your own. There is also always Google.

  1. Learn to code:

It is no secret that society is becoming ever more focused on technology, with it playing an increasingly important role in our everyday lives. Contiki noted that with the prevalence of computer devices and software in society, a “basic understanding of how lines of code create the digital worlds we inhabit every day is becoming a fundamental digital understanding.”

While coding can be a complex and involved process, and takes years to master and understand (you are essentially learning a new language, and there are several to choose from), there are courses that can teach you the basics.

Among the many places that offer courses in coding are: Codecademy, locally based We Think Code_, and Code School.

  1. Travel:

Travelling is a way to immerse yourself in a new culture, and see and experience amazing things.

“Travelling instils an understanding of other cultures and people, grasp of foreign languages, appreciation for foreign food and last but not least a better understanding of oneself. The life experience and growth that can be gained from travelling when young is invaluable, so there’s really no surprise that a fifth of young people surveyed by Contiki would prefer to travel before embarking on their higher level/college education,” revealed Contiki.

However, foreign travel can be expensive, even if you do opt for the cheaper options. Why not start off travelling around your own country?

South Africa has many beautiful places to see and visit, from the Golden Gate Highlands Park in the Free State, to Cape Town and its surrounds. With the diverse culture of South Africa, you can also take your taste buds on a world tour of flavour in your own backyard, with restaurants catering to every taste and palette.

For some tips on things to do in Cape Town for under R50, click here.


Pop down to your local KFC and score on a crunch burger, 1 piece chicken, chips and a cooldrink for only R49.90.

Swing by one of the best fisheries in Cape Town and enjoy a portion of fresh calamari, a medium chips and ab 500ml coke for R69.90.

Come and enjoy 2 x pulled pork burgers and a pitcher of mojito or Village craft lager for R120. As well as, an 800g biltong spice encrusted T-bone steak to share and a bottle of the Village Idiot Chenin or Shiraz for R250.

star Get six munchkins when you buy iced coffee at Dunkin' Donuts. You can choose from any of these flavours; caramel, hazelnut and vanilla. Price starts at R22 and the offer is valid for a limited time.  Visit their store in Cape Town for more information. T&Cs apply. 

On Tuesday guests can take advantage of the Copper Club Eatery's all day half price burger special. Where they can choose from a yummy selection of gourmet burgers and pay only half the price.

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