“You’ve just finished a year studying abroad and have returned home with a fresh, international perspective on life, but you’re wondering what to do next.
You’ve had an in-depth cross-cultural experience and been left feeling a little glum at the thought of returning home and losing out on the opportunity to use all this new found knowledge. But there are plenty of opportunities out there where your international learning and perspective will be appreciated, as will your experience of living abroad and integrating with foreign cultures. Volunteering abroad can aid you in continuing to act as an engaged global citizen, and help others with the skills you’ve learnt from living and studying abroad.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) abroad can be an excellent way to travel and continue learning from other culture at the same time as making a real difference in the lives of the people you meet. Your experiences of breaking down language barriers during your year abroad will put you in a good position when working in a classroom. Not only will teaching abroad give you the opportunity to develop and utilise your year out skills, but there’s also the opportunity to gain a TEFL certificate or qualification with your volunteering project that can help you continue to build a dynamic résumé.
Wildlife Conservation Abroad
As with many volunteering projects, wildlife conservation or animal care projects are often almost solely reliant on the support of volunteers to keep running. Volunteers provide a vital resource to conservation projects that work closely with local communities to ensure that results are long-term and sustainable. Your cross-cultural experience from living abroad will help you build lasting relationships between your project and locals that creates mutually beneficial effects. Wildlife conservation projects also give you the opportunity to learn more about the world around you and the fantastic array of flora and fauna that exists. Whether you’re interested in making conservation a career or joining a project to escape and see remote parts of the world, a volunteering project abroad can open a whole new world of possibilities.
Marine Conservation Abroad
The ocean covers over 70 per cent of the earth’s surface and is the most valuable life source of water, oxygen and food for our planet. Our dependence on the ocean means that marine conservation projects that are working to protect its fragile ecosystems and marine biodiversity are vital in safeguarding the future. Taking part in a marine project means learning a whole set of new skills including becoming a qualified PADI diver and discovering an exotic underwater world. Volunteering projects abroad provide the opportunity to continue learning, both about the world around you and about yourself. By volunteering you are playing your part as an active global citizen and developing the skills and knowledge you gained from studying abroad.
If studying abroad has left you as eager to continue building your career experience as it has to travel and explore the world, you may want to consider an internship abroad. If you want to add to your résumé, an internship abroad can give you the chance to gain experience that wouldn’t otherwise be possible at home. That you’ve taken on the challenge of work experience in a foreign county is sure to impress potential employees and help you stand out from a competitive crowd, but having practiced at studying abroad this challenge will seem like no challenge at all. Internships abroad are a way of continuing your study abroad experience at a professional level, and you will benefit from the transferable skills you learned on your year out. Adapting to new cultures and integrating into a new society are all a key part of any volunteering experience, and you’ll draw heavily from your time studying abroad to propel you to success in your internship. With opportunities in medicine and healthcare, journalism, art and design, conservation and human rights there are plenty of projects to suit any career interest that can also make your travel and time abroad more meaningful.
To conclude, there a whole range of opportunities for volunteering abroad which means all that remains is finding the right project for you. Just as with your study abroad experience, a volunteer project abroad can open up many new possibilities, from discovering a new passion to potentially landing you a job. Volunteering abroad can change your life as well as the lives of the people you meet, it can help to protect our planet and endangered species for the future, and it might even see you turn your passion into a future career. Whether you’re looking to gain direct experience in your future career field or to make a contribution to the global community, there are projects, people and places out there waiting to be a part of your next adventure.
Author Maria Sowter is the Online Content Editor at Frontier, an international non-profit volunteering NGO that runs over 300 conservation, community, and adventure projects in 57 countries across the globe. She can be found blogging on Frontier’s Gap Year Blog or posting on the Frontier Official Facebook page. Tweet us your thoughts @FrontierGap.