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Frequently Asked Questions

If you cannot find the answer to your question here please call us or email.  See out Contact Us page for details.

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Who are Irish Gap Year for?

Our programs are for students who want to build their independence, resilience and travel while learning more about themselves and the world we live in.

The majority of our students are 18 years old, however some participants may be as old as 22. We do accept 17 year olds on our Irish programs.

Our students are all our programs by choice and nobody is one our programs against their will.

Will the program have 24-hour emergency crisis support from full-time resident staff?

Yes. All of our programs have a designated staff member available 24/7 for participants to use in order to contact family, parents or guardians. Equally, family or friends in the US will be given a contact number for emergencies.

Do you provide airport transfers?
Yes. Irish Gap Year program leaders provide airport transfers on the day of arrival and departure for all of our students. We also provide private transport during the time of your program should students need to return home for unforeseen reasons.
Do I need a passport or visa?

Yes, you do need a passport to travel to Ireland. Your passport must be valid for 6 months BEYOND the date you return to the United States. For detailed passport instructions, U.S. citizens should check the State Department’s Travel Site.
Irish Gap Year will also provide you with a letter to state your intent whilst in Ireland and that you do not intend on staying in the country past your 90-day visa. This should ensure a smooth transition upon arrival.

Can I pay for my program with my 529 Savings Fund?

Yes. Any of our semester-length programs can be 100% paid for using your 529 fund.
This requires students to complete a minimum of one course with Portland State University. Irish Gap Year is accredited by the Gap Year Association and affiliated with PSU.
You can learn more about using your 529 fund to pay for your Irish Gap Year program here.

What about meals and accommodation?

Meals are provided on all Irish Gap Year programs. The majority of the time students will prepare their own breakfast and lunch using food in the student housing. We keep the student housing stocked with all of your favourites with a shopping list that is updated daily by our students.

Dinners will be a combination of home-cooked meals provided by Irish Gap Year at our students housing and meals out in restaurants, pubs and cafes. We also regularly teach students to cook on our student-led meal evenings.

You can learn more about student housing on our student housing page.

Do the programs offer laundry facilities?
Yes, laundry facilities are provided on all of our programs. Program Leaders will work with students not familiar with laundry to teach them how to correctly wash their clothes (without shrinking everything!)
How much should I pack?

Irish Programs
You can pack as much as you like for our Irish programs. You’ll have your own home with plenty of storage for your clothes and personal items. Many students bring one large (occasionally massive) roller-bag or duffel-bag and a smaller day-pack.
Be sure to read through your programs ‘Recommended Packing List’ in your orientation materials for more information on what to pack to be prepared for your program.

European Programs
You will be travelling throughout Europe by train, ferry and boat so it is essential that all of your belongings fit inside of one large backpack and a day pack. As such, you will have to be selective about what you choose to bring along for your program and may have to forgo certain items.

Be sure to read through your programs ‘Recommended Packing List’ in your orientation materials for more information on what to pack to be prepared for your program.

Is there a language requirement for Irish Gap Year Programs?
No.
English is spoken in Ireland and throughout Europe. Our local guides will help us in certain countries, but there is no requirement to speak a second language for any of our programs.
Will there be a Wi-Fi connection?
Yes, Wi-Fi is provided in all of our student housing on all programs. We do encourage students to put down the phones and but bust out the cards and board games or have a conversation and strictly no mobiles during meal times.
Can I Use my Phone?

Yes, you are welcome to use your smart phone. We encourage responsible use of smart phones and do occasionally require that devices are left behind for time in nature to reflect.

Do I need any special skills?
All you need is enthusiasm, a sense of curiosity and a willingness to work in a team and learn.
I’m worried about travelling alone. Will I meet people?

Don’t worry!
Everyone is in the same boat and eager to make friends. Nearly all of our students will be arriving to the program on their own.

Orientation week is designed for students to get to know each other, and we’ll be throwing you in the deep end with all types of team building games.

What are the other Gappers like?

Irish Gap Year students all have one thing in common: They REALLY want to be on their program and see the value in gap time. Other than that expect to meet all types of people from various walks of life.

Irish Gap Year programs tend to run close to a 50/50 male/female split. Students tend to mostly be 18 and 19 years old and most students come from North America.

Will I meet the other students before my program starts?
Yes. We will host an on-line meetup a few weeks before your program starts for students to meet one another and their program leaders.
Can I choose when I start a Program?
There are designated start dates for all of our programs. You will find each program’s start date on the program page on our website.
What’s not included on the Irish Gap Year Programs?
Program tuitions do not include international flights, travel insurance or personal expenses. There are no ‘hidden fees’ or other major expenses.
How much money do you recommend for spending money?

We recommend €50 to €60 per week. This is really just for snacks, souvenirs and the occasional meal out at a café’.

What if I have problems during my trip?

The first person to speak to is the Program Leader, who will try to help you with your problem and refer the matter to our management team if necessary. You can also contact our management team directly at our office contact numbers. We will cover all of this thoroughly in orientation.

What if I don’t like the program and want to leave?
We expect students to show a basic level of commitment to your programs. We understand being away from home can be daunting but remember it will always take a few days to settle in so try not to make a snap decision. Our team will help you resolve any problems and if you really do wish to leave early we will help you return home safely.
Is there any free time on Irish Gap Year Programs?
Yes, there is free time on all of our programs.
On our Irish programs there will be free time most evenings after dinner (about 7.30pm) and on Sundays.
On our European programs there is typically a half-day of free time in each major city for students to have the own adventures and get out and explore. There is also free time most evenings after dinner with a curfew that will be established by Irish Gap Year Program Leaders.
During your free time students may come and go from student housing, we require that students ‘sign-out’ notifying us of where they are going, whom they are going with and when they expect to return.
Can my family and friends come visit while I’m with Irish Gap Year?

Yes! Family and friends are welcome. However, we require visits to be scheduled with Irish Gap Year staff to ensure that our program maintains its momentum and students don’t miss important dates. We request that family and friends wishing to visit during gap year programs get in contact with us early on in the planning process.

Is Ireland safe?
Ireland is widely regarded as one of the top 20 safest countries in the world to live in. Students will be living in a small sea-side community with a very low crime rate. However, basic care and vigilance is always recommended but nothing over and above the norm. Ireland’s government departments including our healthcare is of the standard found in Western Europe.

There is a medical centre in Bundoran town where students on our signature programs – Adventure & Leadership Gap Year Program and Transition Adventure program – will be based for a number of days/weeks. There are major hospitals and medical centres throughout the country. Travelling in Ireland is generally very safe, we have a reliable national public transportation network of buses and trains, and a community-oriented police force.

Is Europe safe?
For the most part, yes. However, like in all big cities there are sections of the cities that we visit on our European programs where students should avoid. Your program leaders will cover these areas with you and establish the boundaries for where you can go during free time.
Will my phone work in Europe?
Some international phones will work in Ireland; however rates can be quite expensive. We suggest that students on programs purchase calling cards to use on their home-mobile phones, or download a free-call Application such as Viber/Skype/WhatsApp to contact home while away.

During your program orientation students will have the option of purchasing a European SIM card that can be used in your smart phone. We will also provide our own mobile for any emergency calls.

What are typical group sizes and participant/leader ratios?
Our programs are capped at 14 students maximum per program. Each program has two full-time program leaders and several part time leaders that join for certain activities.
What are our group leaders like?

Recruiting and training Program Leaders is a key priority at Irish Gap Year. A good Program Leader can make a good program amazing. All our Program Leaders are experienced, responsible and friendly people with a variety of skills and lots of experience in outdoor education.
You can meet our Program Leaders here.

How do I Apply?

Please see the apply tab on our homepage to get started on your application process.

Outdoor Adventure Activities

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Do I need to have prior experience in outdoor activities?
You do not need to have ever put on a wetsuit or a pair of hiking boots. That is why you are here on one of our programs! All we need is your enthusiasm and willingness to try something new. Our outdoor adventure instructors are very experienced in teaching absolute beginners how to surf, kayak, SUP or bringing them on a hike.

All you need is a basic level of fitness and a sense of adventure. The most important ingredient is the desire to learn and a good attitude.

Are the activity providers properly qualified?
The activity providers we use are all fully certified and insured activity providers. We do not use any activity provider that cannot produce a copy of their insurance and up to date certification with the relevant governing body i.e. the Irish Surfing Association.
Does it really rain in Ireland all the time?

Irish weather isn’t as bad as most people seem to think. Although it can be unpredictable. The advice is to bring clothes for rain and for sunshine. The main ingredient to enjoying time outdoors in Ireland is a positive attitude and the right outdoor clothing.

What will the weather be like on the European Expedition program in autumn? Will I be cold camping in Norway?
Autumn in Europe is a wonderful time of year to travel and is usually a warm month. As the European Expedition Program progresses we move further south into Europe. By the time we reach Southern Europe in late October and early November it will be in the 60’s and 70’s on average.

You won’t be cold camping in Norway, we will be using excellent camping gear and September is a wonderful and warm(ish) month in Norway with temperatures averaging in the 50’s and 60’s.

Will I be cold doing the water based activities?
No, most definitely not! All participants are supplied with 5mm, thermos-lined winter wetsuits, boots, gloves and hoods – depending on the conditions. These suits are suitable for the coldest winter days, so you can rest assured we’ve got you covered!
Do I need to bring any equipment for activities?

All equipment necessary for the water activities is provided. All you need is a swimsuit and towel. You will need a good pair of walking/hiking boots and a good raincoat for our hiking and walking activities.

Is this program appropriate for a student that requires regular therapy?
Irish Gap Year is not a therapeutic program, therefore it is not an appropriate program for students requiring regular therapy sessions. Regular therapy is defined as ongoing weekly professional, in-field therapy. If in doubt please contact our admissions team to discuss further.