Studying abroad is a life-changing experience with plenty of opportunities to see new places and meet new people away from home. It’s a great idea to really immerse yourself in the culture around you, as you will come away with so many memories and friends, as well as learning about the country and region which you are studying in. One of the best ways to do this is by volunteering abroad, which you can do alongside your full time study. There are a lot of options available for students, so it’s worth taking all of these into consideration.
Benefits of Volunteering whilst Studying Abroad
Studying abroad will enable you to really engage with the local community. See what’s out there and if anything really grabs your attention, then go for it! You will learn a lot about the world around you, as well as gaining some valuable experience. There are all kinds of options available, such as working at a school or a local business, contributing to a public event, or giving your time to a not-for-profit organisation.
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When you volunteer abroad, you will find that you start to build a network of contacts that may stick with you as you develop your education and career. You will have the chance to get to know people who you may not normally have encountered in your daily life, and this can be really rewarding. You may also have the opportunity to visit new places – it’s a great chance to explore as well as helping the world around you.
Volunteering while abroad will really help to enhance the overall experience of your visit to a new country. You can fit it in with your studies and build important skills that may help you along in your future career. Perhaps you could volunteer somewhere that is related to the course you are studying? If you’re a marketing student you could volunteer for a local business or charity and donate your time and experience to help their cause. If you’re a business studies student with a flair for retail, you could volunteer at a local charity shop. This will give you first-hand experience that will really make you stand out from others and be one more thing to add to your CV/resume.
Some universities such as the University of Windsor in Canada and the University of Derby in the UK offer volunteer programmes in which you can lead a small project and develop your managerial skills. These are also excellent opportunities, and are sometimes accredited by the university on your final degree manuscript so be sure to speak with your chosen universities about the positions and projects that are available.
Obviously you need to find the right balance of work, life and studying, but most volunteer programmes can be flexible to your needs. Many of them will work alongside your university, so you can meet with a representative for all the information you need and find the programme that’s right for you!
Drawbacks to Volunteering Abroad whilst you’re studying
There may be a few drawbacks to volunteering abroad, which you should always take into consideration when trying to decide where to do your volunteering activities. The time spent volunteering is time spent away from learning, reading and university life, which is ultimately what you have spent your money on and time planning for. Make sure you have the time to do everything. You need to ensure your studies will not suffer, and you also need to allocate time for yourself to relax and rest!
Volunteering opportunities can be just as competitive as paid work-experience, as students see it as a way to stand out in front of employers and of course, it isn’t paid either. Take note of your financial situation and ensure you have enough funds to pay for your tuition and living costs. Keep in mind however that the experiences you gain while volunteering will pay you differently – you will gain skills, memories and knowledge of the culture that surrounds you, so outweigh the pros and cons and don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone!
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