Europeans have gap years which is, in essence, breaks people take to vacation and/or travel before they embark on schooling or their career. They are what Americans would refer to as siestas or sabbaticals. For Americans there exist no such thing and the closest our culture has to this would be a mid-life crisis or the classic family road trips which is dying in popularity. Even when Americans find time in their busy schedule to travel they rarely leave the United States and if so it will just be delegated to a cruise that lasts too short and costs too much.
Many people envision backpacking across Europe or visiting the United Kingdom where the English language always sounds educated. These fantasies usually remain just that and said people may go their whole lives without acting out on such plans, all the while, running into Europeans who do so on numerous occasions.
I refuse to be one of these statistics. Next year, I hope to have my own gap year: destination Scandinavia. Granted, it won't be an actual year but just a few months if that. As I embark on the planning and execution of it, I would like to further educate Americans on how to initiate a gap year of their own be it for 2 weeks or 2 months. So follow me on this journey as we adopt yet another European lifestyle with some Uncle Sam flair thrown in.
Below are some books that can help teach you more about Gap Years. For everything else there is Wikipedia.