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Gap Year

Semesters after high school

A gap year is anything but a year off. Deciding to defer university for a semester or a year is often the most important educational decision a student makes, and is supported by top colleges and universities. Gap years are formative experiences that encourage personal growth while helping students determine how they want to spend the next four years and beyond.

Rustic Pathways Gap Year programs each last for one semester and are designed to provide different opportunities for travel, cultural immersion, service and non-cognitive skills development. Among the many possibilities, students can immerse themselves in Latin American culture, learn marine conservation in the South Pacific, or intern with a partner organisation.

What does a gap year with Rustic look like?

Service and Adventure

Spend time exploring, learning, and volunteering in the South Pacific, Africa, or Southeast Asia. Intentionally designed to provide adventurous, well-rounded, and team-oriented experiences, these students learn valuable skills by contributing to community-driven service projects, immersing themselves in local culture, and embarking on outdoor adventures.

Spanish Language Immersion

Discover the stunning natural wonders, friendly people, and rich cultures of Latin America while studying Spanish and engaging in meaningful community-driven service projects in Costa Rica, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. Personal Spanish language classes, homestays with local families, and service projects will offer you endless opportunities to practice and learn Spanish.

Internship Semester

For independent students and those seeking career-development opportunities, this program offers internships in Rustic Pathways’ destination countries. Varying by country, internships are offered with local NGOs and trusted partners in diverse fields, from marine conservation to secondary education. The program culminates in a group reflection session that allows students to evaluate their work abroad and confidently prepare for university life.

Gap Year Scholarships

We offer scholarships to outstanding students from all over the world who demonstrate commitment to success on our gap year programs. These scholarships are awarded to qualified students based on a combination of merit and financial need. They may cover up to 100 percent of the program cost of a gap semester. Visit for more information.

Cass Salazar
“My Gap Year was life changing and truly unforgettable. I learnt so many invaluable life lessons while having a tremendous amount of fun and experiencing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I am forever grateful that I was able to learn the difference between travelling as a tourist and immersing myself in the real culture of the country. I am going to take this perspective with me throughout all my travels in the future so I can truly understand the lives of others, particularly by embracing the community vibes and incorporating the lifestyles and values I learn into my own life. The leaders were sincerely genuine and got me excited for the future by inspiring and supporting me. If I had not gone on this trip I would not be where I am today, with a fresh new outlook on life and a hunger to discover more. I will be forever appreciative of my unique journey and will reminisce year after year.”

Cass Salazar
Rustic Pathways Gap Year Student
Tom Steinemann
“After traveling with Rustic, I’m convinced that seeing new parts of the world, meeting new people, and immersing oneself in new cultures is a unique and highly valuable sort of education, maybe the best there is. I saw eight countries in six months and learned that there is no better way of getting to know a culture than by talking to locals – be it in a fancy cafe in the capital or in a little village with a farmer in his field. The people traveling with me and the relationships I formed were really important – so was an open-minded attitude towards new experiences and people. Sharing emotions with them and being open about everything was a great experience that helped me mature and grow. My new friends helped me through hard times and made the good ones even better. It sounds like a cliché but it really held true: on day one we were a group of strangers, and in the end we called ourselves ‘la familia.’”

Tom Steinemann
Rustic Pathways Gap Year Student