Volunteering Abroad – A “Travel Bug” Cure!
Imagine what it would be like to travel the world when you finish high school. Just think of walking along the Great Wall of China, seeing the ancient tombs and Pyramids of Egypt, or exploring the Coliseum in Rome. If you have the “travel bug” you might find the idea exciting. Unfortunately, travelling to see these places can also be very expensive and could cost much more than you can afford. However, you might still be able to see the places you want without using up all of your money. One of the best ways of doing this is through going abroad for short-term or long-term volunteer assignments.
Depending on what you want from travel, a volunteer assignment could be an ideal way of seeing the world. Tourists tend to stay in hotels and to visit the standard tourist sites like historic buildings, museums and monuments. They frequently avoid eating much of the local food in case it makes them sick. Usually they have very little contact with the people of the country, other than tour guides or staff in hotels and restaurants. For some tourists, getting away is not much different from being at home.
Volunteers, on the other hand, usually get to know about everyday life in the places they visit. They frequently work together with the local people on projects directly related to the people living in the region. They might help build schools, work with orphans, study the habits of animals, or even help dig up ancient monuments. They might teach English or help with the children at the local school. Special skills might be necessary for some assignments, but strength and the ability to work hard in the sun might be all that’s needed for others.
Some volunteer assignments might last for a few weeks or be part of an ongoing service to the local people. Many volunteer organizations offer both short-term assignments that last a few weeks and long-term assignments that can last several months or even a few years. A short assignment might fit well during summer holidays, while others might need to wait until you can take a year off to go somewhere for a longer period of time. If you’re thinking of volunteering abroad, it’s a good idea to check with several different organizations to see which one is the best fit for you.
Another question to consider is the cost. Most short-term overseas volunteer programs involve some payment to cover the costs of expenses such as housing and food. There are often additional costs such as airfare to and from the assignment. In exchange you’ll get far more help and support than you would ever get while travelling alone. The costs might even be lower than for other kinds of travel. If you like the idea of seeing the world but want the safety and comfort of having help from other people, volunteering abroad might be the right choice.
Does volunteering abroad sound good to you? If so, it’s never too early to start finding out about the possibilities you can consider!