The Long Gap Before Uni

Friday 20 December 2019, International students

by Coral Kim

The Long Gap Before Uni

Coral Kim

The following blog may or may not apply to you, depending on which country you’re from and what your school’s term dates are. But if you’re like me, and your last high school year has
already ended, you may be wondering what to do with all your free time during these long, unnamed months before University.

I’m from Korea, so that means my high school graduation was back in March. It also means that I’ve already achieved the grades I need for my uni offers (although this, of course, may not be the
case for every Korean). So what do I do with all my seven(!) months before I finally catch that Heathrow-bound plane?

I’ve had highs and lows. I’ve spent entire productive days studying a new language and mealprepping; I’ve stayed all day in my room, listening to Pet Shop Boys and cuddling with my dolls. Mostly, though, I’ve been trying to make the best of all the opportunities and resources that this sort-of-gap year (I still can’t think of a good name for it) offers.

One of them is Shakespeare. After hours of online research, I’ve managed to get a stage management position at a local Shakespeare company. I’m confident in saying that this is probably the best opportunity I’ve ever taken: I’m a huge fan of Shakespeare, and working as a literary manager at a theatre is one of my dream professions, so this is an amazing experience, let alone a great way to spend my time meaningfully.

Taking online classes also has proven to be a good idea. There’s a countless number of them, free or charged, on the internet — I took a long time deciding between a course on Milton’s Paradise. Lost and another on Modern poetry (both taught by renowned academics), and finally went for the latter. So when I’m not going to King Lear rehearsals, I’m sitting inside a café watching lectures on Eliot and Pound. I’m hoping they’ll help me ease back into academics once I go to uni later on, after taking such a long break from school.

Last but not least: the glorious teenage solo trip. It was almost completely on a whim — I thought to myself, “I need to get out of town,” realized how Japan was so close to Korea, then found myself booking a plane ticket and a hostel room in Kyoto, where I would stay for a bit less than a week. The trip cost me half of my modest pocket money savings, but it was worth it. I took a two hour morning walk in a mountain damaged by a recent typhoon (not a soul could be seen — scary, but fascinating); I shamelessly splurged on a fancy nine-course meal my family would never eat; I had a nice conversation with an American tourist couple while partaking in a tea ceremony class.

So if you’re in a similar situation, my advice is that you should start looking for opportunities— there almost certainly will be something for you. I, for one, never thought I could find activities related to my course (English) in Korea. And I never thought I would have so much fun being alone in Kyoto. But here I am, having a great, useful time I’m going to remember long after university!

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