One of the main points that we always touch when considering the pros and cons of working or volunteering abroad is the idea of culture shock. Imagine that you are in a new country where you:
* Don’t speak the language
* Don’t have access to a network of friends or family
* Can’t get home to see your family frequently
This means, you are likely going to run into some odd situations. For example, in Chile (and other South American countries) you have to weigh and pay for your food and bread at different sections around the supermarket, before you checkout. This might seem like a minor detail, but imagine that you are new in town and just want to get some groceries, and when you go to pay, everyone is yelling and pointing…this can be disheartening to say the least. This is culture shock.
The continent of Africa is one of the most diverse in the world, with more than XX countries making up the the giant land mass. The region also has a strong relationship with the United States in the form of missions and relief – the ongoing rebellions and fighting in many countries in Africa have left millions of its citizens in refugee camps, a large number of which are controlled by the United Nations or large relief groups.
If you’ve neen reading this blog, hopefully you’ve gotten some really useful information about volunteering abroad. We’ve covered visas, organizations, resume tips…and of course there is more to come! There will always be some little things, little pieces of advice, that doesn’t necessarily fall into any category or section. That’s what this post is for! I’ve spoken to some of my veteran volunteer friends to come up with the top 5 things that people always forget to tell you before you volunteer abroad. These are the unlikely, random and interesting pieces of advice that you can only really get from someone who has volunteered abroad in the past. I hope that you find it useful!
Today I’m going to briefly highlight one of the “big dogs” of overseas volunteering, Cross Cultural Solutions. This large volunteer placement organization is going to pop up again and again through any search for “overseas volunteering” or “volunteer abroad” that you might type into your search engine. They cover five continents (North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Europe) and for the past 15 years, more than 25,000 volunteers have participated in their programs.
Just like our last post spotlighting free and low cost volunteering opportunities in Latin America, this week we will focus on volunteering in Asia. Many of the work and volunteer study abroad experiences in the Far East focus on teaching and tutoring English, but there are many other ways that you can lend a hand to local organizations. This post will focus on opportunities working with children, but keep an eye out for subsequent post about the environment, human rights, and much more.
Inspired by a recent New York Times article “Advice on Using Your Credit Card While Traveling Abroad”, I thought I’d take a break from volunteer abroad or work abroad-specific posts and focus on some things about living abroad that are a little more general – like how to make sure your credit cards don’t get frozen.
Let’s say you’ve had a great volunteer abroad experience, helping people, cleaning up communities and encouraging development. The experience is no doubt formative, and worthwhile in and of itself. You’re back in the States and ready to tackle the job market with your new skill set and passion. How do you translate your volunteer abroad [...]
It’s probably not a surprise that I have some mixed feelings about paying to volunteer. On the one hand, most organizations abroad who really, desperately need volunteers simply can’t afford to pay for things like airline tickets and room and board. Paying to volunteer in these situations is simply a part of the reality of working with small non-profit organizations.