At the age of 18 I had to make many important decisions, all in the space of the first few months of Year 13. Was I going to go to university? If so, what five universities would I apply to? Was I going to leave the comfort of my own home in East London, or move miles away? And of course, what university course would I pick?
After the stress that is summer exams and university and apprenticeship applications, most students think of taking a break or a ‘gap year’. Some decide to go on a long holiday with friends or family and some even take part in a ‘voluntourism’ trip abroad, but I knew that neither of these options were long enough to fulfil my urge to travel and expand my horizons. For me, a year full of both personal and professional development seemed like the perfect thing to do straight after Year 13.
So in November 2016, alongside applying to university and preparing for my A-Levels, I began planning a gap year that I knew would be life changing. I was fortunate to have the support of my form tutor and the Head of Sixth Form at my state-school in East London, as well as the advice of my mentors on the two mentoring programmes I was involved with, Career Ready and the Social Mobility Foundation. But the adults in my family were not convinced and tried to deter me from taking a year out.