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Go Beyond a Gap Year: 5 Reasons to Move Overseas after College

Posted on Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Paul Van Der Werf

Is the season after college a good time to take a Gap Year?  Kinda but not exactly.  Instead, consider going beyond a gap year in your first step after college.

The concept of taking a Gap Year after high school to travel, serve and learn by experience is normalized in several parts of Europe.  In the last decade or so, it’s jumped the pond, and students and parents alike have warmed to the idea here in the US.

Now, a new trend is emerging where it’s becoming more commonplace to do something similar after college because in the years right after college, it's a unique opportunity to travel, to serve, and to focus on personal growth.  

However, instead of a Gap Year, GoCorps is leading the way in enabling recent grads to use their degree overseas as their first step.  These two year placements specialize in opportunities where Christian recent grads can invest and grow professionally as well as in their faith. 

Doing GoCorps helps put you on the map toward a fulfilling life, faith and career.  

Here are 5 reasons that living and serving overseas after college through a two-year placement makes a lot of sense no matter what your long-term plans are:


Reason #1: Your Most Mobile Years!

The season right after college is the most mobile season of your life. Think about it.  You now have your college degree. But you have no kids, no mortgage, and you’re not in the middle of your career. These are the three things in life that affect your mobility and flexibility the most. Therefore, it only makes sense to seriously look into travel and living in a new place during this season. 

And guess what, the corporate world or grad school isn’t going anywhere. They’ll be options for you after your gap year, except you’ll have a whole new layer of life and experience to bring to the table. And while it’s never impossible to take a gap year in any decade of your life, it simply almost never happens in your 30s, 40s or 50s because of life’s complexities and commitments. Your 20s is a unique season and the opportunity for mobility should not be missed!


Reason #2: Be Global

We have a global God and we live in a globalized economy, so it’s important for all of us to aspire to be global in our faith, in our worldview, and in our living. In other words, to be relevant and to be salt and light in our generation, we should all aspire to be global Christians and global citizens. Global Christians have a global understanding, context and hope for their faith. They have a growing understanding and involvement in God’s work, his world and his Word.

We have a global God and we live in a globalized economy, so it’s important for all of us to aspire to be global in our faith, in our worldview, and in our living. 

The primary skill set of global citizens is their cultural intelligence. IQ measures knowledge and aptitude. EQ measures emotional intelligence. CQ measures cultural intelligence. CQ is a skill-set that can best be learned experientially, by being in cross-cultural settings and ongoing cross-cultural relationships. Doing a post college global gap year, living in another culture, and learning another language is the best way to accelerate your growth in being a global Christian and in growing your global citizen CQ.


Reason #3: Be Mentored in Being on Mission

God is on a mission. His mission is to reconcile people from every culture into a right relationship with himself. His method of doing this? Sending his followers into the world. Therefore, as followers of Christ, all of us have a part in God’s mission. 

As you begin your career and transition from college to the professional world, knowing how to live your faith in secular environments is super tricky. Without specific training and mentoring on how to communicate and live our faith, many of us end up feeling and experiencing failure as it relates to being missional in non-Christian environments.

Doing your post-college gap year through an organization like GoCorps that is designed, not only for your professional development but also in discipling you in how to live your faith in a real and relevant way in your career will do wonders for you. Doing it right after college will set you up for the rest of your life, wherever your career takes you!


Reason #4: Your Career isn't a Ladder, It's a Jungle Gym

The way most of us have been taught to think about our careers is that it’s like climbing a ladder (aka the corporate ladder). That analogy makes us think it goes in one direction (up!) and that it’s a straight line. The problem is, that’s no longer true. In fact, it couldn't be farther from the truth and experience of today’s leaders. (read more about this in Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In)

A better way to think about your career is like a jungle gym. When kids go to a jungle gym, they start on the monkey bars, then decide to climb the tower and go down the slide a few times, and then to the next fun playground activity. Your 20s and early thirties should look a bit like that as it relates to the variety of experiences and growth opportunities. When you think of your career in this way, it’s a no-brainer to get a year or two or three of overseas experience as a part of your early career development. 


Reason #5: Set Your Trajectory

One of the most important parts of the decade of your twenties is about developing your worldview and setting a trajectory. The habits, priorities and foundations of how to live your life and how you will invest your God given time, talent and treasure are so important because it’s going to determine your life destination.

Think about it, when a plane takes off from New York City for a cross country trip, a small adjustment in the trajectory either to the North or to the South, will determine whether the plane arrives in Los Angeles or in Canada later in the trip! 

A post-college gap year is a time where you can be intentional in evaluating your values and how they will find a way to be expressed in your day to day living. Doing this in your early twenties will help you set a life trajectory that will allow you to live without regrets.


From Gap Year to Map Years

Map Years start by putting your yes on the table and then letting God put it on the map. 

Instead of taking one year after college and doing a Gap Year, I’d like to introduce you to a new way of considering how to invest your first years after college.  I invite you to look at your first years after college as Map Years.  

Map Years start by putting your yes on the table and then letting God put it on the map.  It means you make the most of your mobility by investing two or more years using your degree overseas for God’s glory.

Map Years means that you don’t limit your next step to a couple familiar or respected zip codes.  Instead, you lift your eyes to the harvest, and you open yourself up to the whole map.  You put your major and your college degree on the table. You give God the beginning of your career. And you trust God to put your next season on the map.  

Go beyond a gap year after college.  Make your first years after college Map Years, joining your global God on the front lines of his global work.   

Our passion is to help people like you find where on the map God is leading!  Doing GoCorps helps put you on the map toward a fulfilling life, faith and career.  Check out the two year placements that GoCorps offers and set up a time to talk to one of our mission coaches.  

Free ebook now available! We've created an ebook that outlines the 10 Map Years essentials.  This ebook comes from everything we've learned in the last 10 years of helping hundreds of recent grads find and live globally for their Map Years. Get your FREE ebook here.

Paul Van Der Werf

Paul Van Der Werf is the founder and executive director of GoCorps. Paul spent four years after college living overseas and serving through a Dutch NGO doing ministry in Amsterdam’s Red Light District and doing community development and ministry among overlooked communities in Mexico along the Texas border. His firm belief is that God’s mission is too important to be left just to the missionaries, and so he’s made it his life’s work to help ordinary Christians find their place in God’s global work.

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