Our programs are a leader in gap year because they are designed to meet the unique needs of gap year students by providing:
- Authentic Engagement, not just "experiential learning"
- New Family, not just "cultural immersion"
- Meaningful Exploration, not just "adventure travel"
Our gap year programs are about more than just travel and service. They combine deep cultural immersion, fieldwork with experts, and engaging readings and discussions to create an incredible learning environment. There are no grades, no tests, and no essays. Our Program Leaders are there to support and challenge you in becoming who you want to be.
Global Gap Year - Sustainable & Healthy Planet
This unparalleled 7-month gap year program includes:
- Cultural immersion through multiple homestays in Guatemala, Thailand, and India
- Meaningful field-based learning backed by an exciting curriculum
- Language learning through daily instruction and/or immersion
- Adventure with independent travel and group exploration of world heritage sites
Latin America Gap Semester - Empowerment & Sustainability
This 13-week gap semester program includes:
- Daily Spanish Language Classes & Immersion
- Living with host families in Guatemala and Costa Rica
- Fieldwork with local experts
- Academic study
- Volcano trek in Nicaragua
Asia Gap Semester - Food Security & Public Health
This 13-week gap semester program includes:
- Living with host families in Thailand and India
- Fieldwork with local experts
- Academic study
- Language Learning
- Explore Angkor Wat & Phnom Penh
10 Participant ReviewsWrite a Review
I'm not exaggerating when I say the Thinking Beyond Borders Global Gap year changed my life. I have matured into a global, aware citizen. Embarking on this trip prior to college not only changed me into the person I am today, but motivated me to reach my full potential academically in college. To me, one or two months between high school graduation and the beginning of college is not a healthy transition. After being burnt out by 4 years of high school, it can be extremely difficult to jump right back into another intense academic setting. This trip gives students the chance to continue learning outside the traditional classroom. Now, as a college student, I can relate to my classes with real-world experiences. TBB can and will be both a physical and mental challenge, but each and every student comes out of it with a new outlook on life and the world as we live it. Cliche, maybe, but I can't communicate in words how true it is. The experiences you will have on TBB are extraordinary and thrilling. I miss it and my fellow students (family) every day.
I took the Global Gap Year program in 2013 and still think about how tremendous of an experience it was for me. After 12 years of schooling I was not ready to jump into another stressful 4 years (or more) at college, TBB gave me the opportunity to continue studying and learning, but in a completely different way. Thinking Beyond Borders taught me things far greater than how to pass "ACTs" or "Midterms"...it taught me about what was going on in the world around me, and actually made me want to become an agent of change in the world today. Throughout the adventure of a lifetime I learned more about myself and challenged myself in ways I never thought I would have. Thinking Beyond Borders provided me with purpose, resources, and an out of the ordinary learning experience that I will carry with me on my journey through life. I am so grateful for the people I met, things I learned, and everything I saw in the unforgettable year with TBB.
If you are considering a gap year with TBB, I envy the amount of possibilities and experiences that are going to come your way! Seven months with sixteen of the greatest people I have ever met changed my life. How cliche, you must be thinking, but its the honest truth. TBB pushed me to broaden my understanding and to widen my perspective. I see the world through an entirely different lens now, and the best part is that the world has become so much more beautiful. Humanity taught me how to love myself and those around me. I would not be the passionate, understanding, outgoing, individual I am today without TBB. So, TAKE A GAP YEAR. Greatest decision you will ever make, promise.
Hello potential future TBBers! I did the Global Gap Year, and I have to say that Thinking Beyond Borders is more than just a gap year program; it is a gateway. I didn't realize when I applied, but in choosing TBB I chose to look at life a different way. When TBB says it is "a gap year with a purpose" it isn't just administrative jargon or a snappy slogan. And the amazing thing about this "purpose" is that it extends beyond the 7 months abroad; you'll take it home with you, the experience doesn't end when you stop travelling. I entered TBB feeling lost; I had so many questions about myself and the world, but couldn't fathom how to begin asking them. Until TBB, all my learning had been regulated to an inside-of-the-classroom experience, and I had little idea of who I was outside of that setting. Through TBB, I grew in my understanding of myself, and came to feel truly alive. If you crave an incredible community, a year of immense growth, and the discovery of direction, I highly recommend Thinking Beyond Borders.
Last year I embarked on a journey that became one of the most amazing things I have done as a human being. Thinking Beyond Borders is so special not just because you're traveling(which in itself is awesome), but because of the way you travel and what you learn through the adventure. It's a year of personal discoveries as well as outward ones. I learned how to communicate with people beyond language and while making these discoveries about cross-cultural communication I also started to look deeper into my own culture and self. TBB taught me that the inward journey can be just as important as the outside ones. The academic structure of TBB I believe is what sets it apart from other gap year programs. The learning is both guided and self directed and because there are no grades you are ultimately the one in charge of your studies. This was huge for me especially now in college because I feel more motivated them I ever did in high school. I believe that not just what I learned on TBB, but also how I learned to think sets me apart from my peers and offers me a huge advantage. I thank TBB everyday for how it has shaped me and it truly is an adventure that will impact me for the rest of my life.
I attended the Thinking Beyond Borders Global Gap Year 2013-2014, and can not even fully express how much I learned, the relationships I developed across the globe, and how much more I grew into my true self during those seven months. I came into TBB as someone who thought I knew quite a bit about myself and the world, only to realize my pure ignorance. I came out as a very analytical, independent woman with a much stronger understanding of the complexities of global issues, as well as a better understanding of who I was and who I strive to be. To say that I learned an immense amount is an understatement. I cannot realize how my life would have gone without having my TBB experience, and there is not a day that goes by where I don't think about that opportunity and am grateful for it. I am someone who is usually pretty careful when it comes to expressing absolutes, but I can say with absolutely 100% certainty that taking a global gap year with Thinking Beyond Borders was the best decision I have ever made. What's more - my mom agrees!
I went with TBB on the Global Gap year in 2013-2014, and honestly, it was far and away my most definitive year of personal growth. I think I matured more during the 7 months with Thinking Beyond Borders than I did during all four years of high school. That's not taking anything away from standard education; it's just that TBB's entire premise is to invoke a lot of self-reflection. It's academically engaging, but the purpose of it isn't to test you, it's added to help you really immerse yourself in the countries and issues you'll be seeing in the flesh. But look, if you're on the fence, let me tell you this: if traveling the world for a year sounds remotely interesting to you (and it must, you're on this page) I guarantee TBB will be an absolute dream, and will deliver an experience beyond your wildest expectations.
As I ended my first semester in college, I was extremely excited. Not because finals were over or because I would be able to sleep in my own bed for a month, but because six of my best friends in the entire world, six girls from Thinking Beyond Borders, would be visiting me in the upcoming weeks. TBB has overwhelmingly changed my life. It has changed the way I think and the way I learn. It has expanded my understanding of the world. I have seen and experienced things unimaginable to most other college students. However, most importantly, TBB has surrounded me with a beautiful and caring community that is extremely hard to come by. When I set off on my global gap year, I was nervous--nervous for the unknown. I wish I could tell the girl I was a year ago that TBB would be the best decision she has made thus far in her life.
TBB enriched my college experience in more ways than I could ever express. I am no longer a passive learner – TBB gave me the skills to take ownership of my educational experience. The curriculum opened my eyes to global issues and forced me to challenge the assumptions I held about the world and my place in it. In every course I’ve taken in college I have been able to relate abstract ideas and statistics to individuals and concrete experiences I encountered on my gap year. I can't say enough good things about TBB!
Response from Thinking Beyond Borders - Global Gap Year and Gap Semester Programs:
Rachel has followed up on her gap year abroad with Thinking Beyond Borders and done some incredible things. During college, she's spent two summers working in Rwanda to support women and public health initiatives, worked with a leading public health agency in the US, and received a TBB Alumni Fellowship to attend the Social Capital Markets Conference in San Francisco (a leading social change event) with two other TBB alumni and TBB's founder. She is a great example of the types of incredible work that alumni in the Thinking Beyond Borders community do to improve our world.
My experience with Thinking Beyond Border was truly life-changing. Not only did I develop intellectually and expand my academic interests, but I learned an incredible amount about myself. TBB taught me how to reflect and question critical issues around the world. I can use these techniques in my daily life as well. This is a great program that allows participants to travel to beautiful and interesting places, learn, and grow.
How often do students who strive to think globally get to debate environmental issues by day and continue the conversation by night with their Ecuadorian host father who’s struggling to make his farm more sustainable?
Emily came home questioning many assumptions she’d had, with memories of faces of people she met who made abstract statistics a reality.
After TBB, Lucy went on to her freshman year of college and took classes that were meaningful to her, not just classes that filled a requirement. She finished the year with all A’s and more importantly, she was more engaged with her college classroom experience because of the time spent traveling with TBB. Ultimately, her college experience is more valuable as a result of the gap year with TBB.
The people I met while on TBB had a strong impact on me. Our host-families and care-takers are people who I think about almost daily. Also I have made amazing friends who are basically family.
Alexandra came home with a beautiful sense of competence and independence, and the concrete skills to match.
Zander’s time with TBB helped focus want he wants to study in college and perhaps beyond school. It increased his curiosity about the world and its issues. He questions things more now. We also notice tremendous maturity.
Had I not taken a gap-year, I feel that my life would have been created for me, not by me.