Studying abroad while in school is a fantastic option for students and for good reason, too. Going abroad offers ample opportunity to firsthandedly learn and experience the cultures of other parts of the world and to go outside of one’s comfort zone to broaden horizons. These reasons only begin to scratch the surface into the benefits of traveling overseas. Though studying abroad is an opportunity that I think every student should seize, it is often perceived as the only way a young adult will have the opportunity to see the world. Teaching and volunteering abroad is another option for those who wish to get more experiences out of the world.
For me, transferring schools and changing majors was a huge setback in my own ability to go abroad during school, especially since I wanted to graduate within a reasonable amount of time. The added pressures of networking and creating contacts in the area for a job post-graduation played a role in the decision-making process of studying abroad, too. What I see now is that it would have been a great way for me to attain global experience. Luckily though, it is not too late. For those who never got a chance to go to Europe, Asia, Latin America or many other destinations in the world while completing their degrees, teaching and volunteering abroad is a viable option that presents similar experiences.
In this current economy, the uncertainty of finding a job is high, and many intend to discover ways to set themselves apart in the job market. Many default in going to graduate school or in moving back home with their parents while deciding a career path. Taking time after graduation to sort out your life is fine, but it is what you do with that time between school and working that matters. Teaching and volunteering abroad is a great use of time while figuring out one’s career. Taking six months, a year or even more time after graduation to teach or volunteer abroad strengthens communication skills, shows a great amount of initiative and provides global experience. These benefits can develop your understanding of the professional world, which can then be used when interviewing for jobs and creating a life for oneself here at home.
A great thing about teaching abroad is that there are a number of programs that can provide an organized and structured certification process. This process teaches one to become an internationally recognized individual who is capable of teaching English as a foreign language. There are a number of online certification programs, which are handy when juggling part-time jobs and school. Other options that some of these programs offer include classroom and on-site training in a host country. These allow more time to discover and become integrated into the culture before beginning work.
Future international teachers must keep in mind that teaching English as a foreign language in another country usually involves a significant time
commitment. Some programs require at least seven or eight months be dedicated to living in the host country. Deciding to spend this length of time away from home, family and friends is not trivial for some. The programs do not usually pay for travel expenses, and vacation time is generally limited, too. That being said, a practical option is to volunteer abroad. Volunteering abroad can still result in the same benefits and skill-building opportunities as working abroad, but the added flexibility in the length of time spent abroad is more feasible.
Teaching and volunteering abroad provides a wonderful opportunity for post grads to travel, experience different cultures and to develop accredited skills. These skills and experiences will benefit young adults in their careers upon returning from their post-graduation adventure abroad.
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UMN students have traveled to Florida colleges to collaborate with students on various projects.
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