While I was traveling around Italy and Australia, I kept running into people who were on their year off between high school and college or college and the real world.  They were mostly European but also from the commonwealth and, at least in Britain, they all said that employers liked seeing that they’d taken their time and “gotten it out of their system.”  I must say, I kind of liked the idea that it would be a positive thing to have a year or two of fun.  These kids weren’t rich or had lots of money from their parents but they generally had a little saved up and traveled frugally, occasionally getting a job from a youth hostel or a bar, like some of the people in Cairns, Australia (near the great barrier reef and all that).  Some people just traveled until they found a place that they liked and got an apartment there, like one guy I met in Montpellier.  They occasionally had job interviews while they traveled and some turned into jobs but mainly they did that stuff after deciding to stick in a place.  It looked like fun, but fun that had a fairly clear expiration date.

Thinking about it from an American perspective, I’m not sure if they’d treat the year off in the same way.  We tend to party our way through college, almost like a year (or 4 or 5) off and then immediately get jobs.  Some people do the peace corps or teaching language abroad options, some travel in the summer that they usually have between college and the next step, but otherwise we seem to go straight to work.  I know the main reason I didn’t do this was because I was afraid that future employers would see gaps in my past and it would be a negative mark on me.  But what do you all think?  Am I totally off-base or is this really a non-American mentality?

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