Jess, Schools Assistant, UK


Jess’s UK Experience 2014

I guess what made me decide to go on a Gap year in 2014 was the fact that I have always wanted to travel, and live in another country. Plus, if I’m completely honest, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, so I thought that taking a year out and working, not just travelling would be the best idea for me.

Deciding to go through Lattitude was probably the best decision I could have made. From the very beginning when I applied, right through my placement and up until I came back home, they were there to support me if I ever needed anything. Of course they weren’t overbearing, and left you to carry on with your work and travel in the country you were in. But knowing that they were there if anything ever went wrong, was probably the biggest thing that kept both myself and my parents mind at ease.

I was placed in Queen Elizabeth’s Community College in Crediton, Devon, England. This is a co-education day school and International Boarding School, home to around 55 Boarders aged from 11-18 years old, ranging from around the UK, to Germany, Spain, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Czech Republic and Austria. I did a variety of jobs, mainly in the Boarding house/s, but also working a day occasionally in the school. My days consisted of working in the Boarding office during school hours and then night shifts would be spent working between the boys and girls houses helping them with homework, cooking, food tech, laundry and also getting them to bed on time, along with extra jobs I was given to do.

I have to admit, this was a very full on and hectic job. Myself and the two other Australian girls on the placement with me were relied on heavily, and at times we would be very exhausted. However, there is nothing I would have changed about the experiences I have had and the people I have met. I think unlike a lot of other boarding schools in England, QE was very informal, and very much like a huge family! I was able to become so very close with the whole staffing team, as well as the boarders and for that I am so very grateful. Ultimately, these people are what have made my experience the best it could have possibly been, and not many people can say that they can walk in the door to work everyday and be lovingly greeted by 55 brothers and sisters.

This Gap year travelling and at my placement has taught me a lot of things about life, and about myself. I am no longer scared to try new things, and have learnt that you have to give everything a go. Amongst my travels and working with the staff and Boarders at QE, I have grown more confident in myself, in return growing as a person and becoming more of an adult, in both a workplace environment and in order to give help and support to those who needed it. I have had to learn to work on a budget from the allowance that we were given each month and because of that, plan my travel strategically!

My eyes are now wide open, and I cannot recommend this experience more to anyone! I am now motivated to keep having experiences that continue to change my life in the way that my experience in the UK and working with everyone at Queen Elizabeth’s has given me. The support from Lattitude and the friends I have made throughout my time whilst in the UK has been vital to me, and I know that one day I will be going back over there, whether it be to work, or visit my second family.

Applying for a Gap Year with Lattitude may be daunting. But if you don’t push yourself out of your comfort zone, then you will never know what experiences are out there for you to have. I was probably one of the shyest people before I left for a year and had to live and work with people I had never met before. But these are the things that shape your life and help you to grow and become a better person, not just for yourself, but also for those around you.