Studying abroad is probably one of the coolest things you can experience in high school or college.
There are endless opportunities to push you out of your comfort zone, visit exciting new cities, meet new people, and try delicious new foods. What could be better, right? If you loved your study abroad experience and are looking for ways to incorporate travel into life after graduation, explore job opportunities abroad. Working abroad in a foreign country has many similarities to studying abroad… but is even better! Here are a few reasons why working abroad is like Study Abroad Version 2.0!
1. International friends are the best, so make some more!
Everyone has a different study abroad experience, and depending on your program, you may or may not have had classes with local students. Some programs are integrated with nearby universities and mix local students with international students; other programs are a bit more isolated from the community. While your study abroad program may have aided or hindered your opportunities to meet locals, working in a foreign country is a sure way to make awesome international friends. Depending on the field you are working in, you may meet a lot of local folks or fellow travelers such as yourself! If you are working in an office or business oriented setting, there is a good chance your coworkers will be from nearby areas. If you are working a seasonal job, such as at a ski resort or a farm, you may have a more international mix of coworkers, which is always fun! Studying abroad offers ample chances to meet people in your host country- working abroad allows for even more opportunities to make local friends! Depending on your living situation abroad, you may have roommates from your host country. Living with people who are born and raised in your adopted home is a great way to dive into life abroad. Native roomies are also great resources- pick their brains to find out the best places to eat, grab a cup of coffee, and where to travel on your days off! And of course, we all know the best part of having friends from all over the world is always having a place to crash when you go visit!
2. Eat more food
Really, I feel like I shouldn’t even have to explain this one. Hopefully you ate lots of yummy, foreign, delicious new foods while you studied abroad. Working abroad is just another (hopefully longer!) opportunity to keep eating new, mouthwatering cuisine. It’s a no brainer. Maybe you’ll even learn to cook a few of those amazing meals for yourself! Or better yet, ask your new friends to teach you how to cook their favorite native meal!
3. Take advantage of abundant travel possibilities
Depending on where you studied abroad, your opportunities to travel outside of class time will have differed. Many students, however, seem to make a genuine effort to travel for weekend trips and semester breaks. Students that study abroad in Europe, where it is incredibly easy and cheap to bop around from one country to the next, have ample opportunities to travel. If you studied in far-away Australia, maybe you took advantage of the chance to travel all over Oz! No matter what your study abroad set up was like, I think we can all agree travel opportunities are a huge plus. When you’re working in a foreign country, all those same travel opportunities reappear! For some reason, many of us don’t really feel the need to travel every weekend if we are living and working at home. Once you are living and working in a new place, however, the appeal to get to know your new city or host country emerges. Spend your weekends or days off work traveling in your new country, learning about the culture and really getting a great feel for your new home. I think we can also all agree that the majority of students studying abroad are on a budget. The best part about traveling while you’re working, rather than studying, is having a bit of extra cash to spend on your travels! No more ballin’ on a budget for you! Ok, so you’ll probably still have a budget, but still, hopefully you won’t be as poor as you were as a student.
4. Make the most of different and unique traveling opportunities
For many students, some of your traveling may have been with your school. Many programs plan field trips for their students, whether it be a day trip to a nearby city or site, or a weekend getaway filled with museums, tours, and visiting local attractions. Traveling with your university is brilliant, as they typically take care of all the planning- all you have to do is show up. It’s great to have a tour guide, or a professor, show you around and point out things of interest. When you’re working abroad, you probably won’t have the same kinds of travel opportunities you had with your university. But, you will an array of other awesome travel opportunities which you should take advantage of! Maybe you have to travel for work, and can explore a new city or the countryside on your own with coworkers. You may have to do the planning yourself, but you’ll have more control over where you’re staying and your schedule. You may not have a tour guide hold your hand and show you around your new destination, but you can still learn all the same fun facts by talking to locals! It’s easy, I promise! A few friendly words can go a long way, and it will probably be a more memorable experience learning about how a city was founded by Vikings from the cute, old man in the pub rather than a tour guide.
5. Don’t be scared to step outside your comfort zone…travel solo!
During your study abroad experience, if you did any traveling outside of school, odds are you went with a group of friends. While traveling with friends can be an incredible experience, traveling alone is equally as exciting. Maybe a few of you daredevils went for a solo trip while studying abroad, and kudos to you! When you are working abroad in a foreign country, traveling opportunities are abundant, but traveling buddies may not be. Sure, you will always be able to find a friend who is up for a weekend getaway somewhere, and that’s great. Odds are, however, that you won’t be able to find someone to hit the road with every time you want to go somewhere- and that’s ok! Remember, studying abroad is kind of like living in a foreign bubble- you’re living and traveling with a group of students, all of similar age and nationality, who have no real responsibilities for the semester other than classwork. Post graduation, life won’t be quite as carefree, unfortunately. Friends may have work on the weekends, doctors’ appointments, soccer games or other real-life things acalling. Don’t ever let a lack of travel companions hold you back from taking a trip you are excited about. Take advantage of this awesome situation and put your big kid boots on. Take all those things you learned from your study abroad travels and apply them to your solo trip- trust me, if you just relax and go with the flow, you’ll have a great time! In my experience, you may technically be traveling alone, but you’ll only stay on your own if you choose to be. Typically, it’s easier to meet locals or make friends in a hostel when you’re riding solo- one person is a lot less intimidating to new friends than a huge group!
6. Pump up your resume!
Studying abroad looks great on your resume. Really, it does! Potential employers are interested in your life outside of work and school, and having some travel experience under your belt is a great way to show that you have a certain skill set, without having to spell it out. Study abroad is also a great conversation starter during interviews! Now imagine you studied abroad in college, worked abroad post-grad, and are now applying for a new job. Having international work experience is going to make you stand out, and that’s a good thing. These days, jobs and internships are so competitive, it’s hard to truly make an impression when you’re only allowed to submit a cover letter and a resume. Having international work experience (in addition to your study abroad experience!) will make you jump off the page and stand out. I may be jumping to conclusions here, but I think it’s safe to say that if you’ve worked abroad you are independent, confident, adaptable, have strong communication and negotiation skills, and are good at budgeting and planning. These are all qualities that any employer would be happy to have in an employee, so don’t be modest! Put your travel experience on your resume, and emphasize all the skills you learned while working abroad, in and out off the office!
Studying abroad is an incredible learning experience for students. If you had a blast while studying abroad and are looking for your next adventure post-grad, seriously consider looking for work abroad. Not only will you be able to have many similar experiences to your study abroad trip, but the opportunities to do and see more are endless! Working abroad will be like your study abroad, version 2.0!
About the Author
Sarah Morgan is a twenty-something, recent graduate of the University of Delaware. During her time at UD she studied abroad three times in Puerto Rico, Greece, and England, among other travels. Sarah is a self-diagnosed travel junkie and will be moving to Ireland in August with a Working Holiday Visa. Keep up with her on Twitter @SarahMorgan65.