Over the past week, I’ve had several people ask how I was able to travel abroad without spending thousands of dollars. Many of you are interested in international experience but aren’t sure where to begin. I’ve compiled a few simple ideas to get you started.
1. Study Abroad
If you are a student (I can’t stress this enough), look into your university’s study abroad programs. They are more affordable than you think. For my undergraduate degree I was able to spend the same amount on a semester in Costa Rica and Nicaragua as I would’ve spent on my campus in Texas. I got all the credits I needed for a Spanish minor in one semester, living with native Spanish speakers and travelling to volcanoes on the weekends.
Research what opportunities your university has available to you. If they don’t have the program you want, look for outside programs and speak to your adviser about getting credit.
Worried about paying? Scholarships and financial aid usually still apply, and the benefits of study abroad will last you the rest of your academic and professional life. This is money you will never regret spending.
- Try these helpful sites for study abroad
- Intern Abroad
A great way to see the world is through an internship, but finding a paid one can be tricky. You can fundraise through crowdfunding sites like fundmytravel or trevolta, but remember those sites will take a small percentage of your earnings.
My internship was through an organization called Student.Go with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. They have great international positions for high school, college and graduate students in countries like Indonesia and Uganda. These programs come with $1000 stipend and paid living and travel expenses although you usually have to raise money for the flight. However, the organization is very helpful with fundraising and even ended up paying for my flight to Slovakia. These internships are great opportunities to serve, and you are forced to go beyond your cultural perceptions and comfort zone while engaging with communities in their context.
A few helpful websites for finding and funding internships:
Goverseas.com offers great resources for funding your next internship abroad.
Transitions Abroad has a multitude of articles written by real travelers dedicated to helping you find the right program.
Finding the right internship
Look for positions that fit your dream skill set or career goals
Think about what you love to do, what skills you already have and what skills you would like to have. Consider if you could get academic credit and use scholarships through your university.
Don’t think you have to be 100% qualified
I bought my first DSLR camera a few weeks before beginning my photojournalism internship. Remember, you’re there to learn.
Reach out to your available contacts. Do you volunteer with an organization that has international positions? Do you know of a business in your community that has corporations or warehouses overseas? Two students from my hometown worked at a local bakery that imports pineapples from Costa Rica. One summer, they visited the company’s plantation and helped harvest pineapples while exploring the country on their weekends off. They even got paid.
Don’t give up. If you can’t go this summer, start saving for next summer. If you’ve just graduated, remember most organizations offer semester or year-long positions as well.
Don’t be afraid to share: You can use your experiences to travel, connect and offer helpful advice to other students and travelers through blogging and social media sites like studentsgoneglobal or interpals.net.