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A gap year is not just for fun-loving uni students

Wow, 4,822 of you have read this.

Mention the term gender gap and salary figures come to mind. Mention the term gap year and no doubt thoughts of young, intelligent, fun-loving university students taking time out to gain experience in some far-flung corner of the real world spring to mind. That’s the stereotypical image. Unless, of course, you’ve read the article by travel industry expert and Careers for Travel website founder Neil Maxwell-Keys, which appeared in the Huffington Post a couple of years back.

The article notes at the time the media’s growing interest in the mid-life gap year and then advises how women over 40 can get a job on a cruise ship, allowing them “to experience the world, and at the same time enjoy a comfortable and safe trip.”

As well as the benefits of travel and new experiences, writes Maxwell-Keys, the best career opportunities aboard ship are the jobs that entitle the crew member to have their own cabin, have flexible hours and have officer status – meaning even more benefits.

Cruise industry insight

He goes on to outline a range of jobs most people will likely never have heard of before, such as future cruise sales manager, on-board loyalty manager, port and shopping presenter and port or enrichment lecturer.

And he adds, “There are plenty of entry level jobs on cruise ships that mature women may also be qualified for such as guest relations, gift shop associate, casino dealer, spa receptionist, photographer, and youth counsellor. But, you may want to consider that those types of cruise jobs require you to share a cabin with another crew member.”

The article, which is highly recommended, provides a fascinating insight into an industry many of us experience only as a cruise-ship passenger bound for some exotic corner of the globe.

Gulf culture

And talking of exotic, many of the aforementioned stereotypical gap-year students often find themselves exchanging university life in London, Newcastle or Edinburgh for the worthy academic institutions found in the sunnier climes of the Middle East, often through the auspices of organisations such as the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE).

Top destinations include the American University of Sharjah (AUS) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which plays host to thousands of students from some 80 other nations. This highly respected cutting-edge university combines traditional Gulf culture with a US-style education.

Innovative courses

Students not only get the chance to improve or to acquire Arabic language skills while exploring the UAE’s role as a global hub for trade, business, and cultural exchange, they can also take innovative courses in social sciences, humanities, natural sciences, business, engineering, architecture and Middle Eastern studies. Students will also be able to explore the UAE through CIEE excursions to Dubai, Al-Ain and Abu Dhabi, and participate in various student clubs and organizations.

The CIEE says, “What’s it like to visit the tallest man-made structure on the planet? You’ll find out with CIEE in the United Arab Emirates. Home to incredible engineering feats like the Burj Khalifa and Palm Jumeirah, a man-made, palm tree-shaped archipelago, the UAE is the perfect place to learn about engineering, the Arab world, and the global economy. Plus, you’ll hone your Arabic language skills, and witness the daily intersection of traditional values and modern realities.”

Perhaps more than a gap year is beckoning? Find out more about the work of the CIEE here, or check out the Huffington Post article here.

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