Volunteering abroad can be an extremely rewarding experience. It's also a great way of adding to your CV. There are a number of things to keep in mind to make sure that your trip works properly, however.
Firstly, it is crucial to pick the right destination. This may seem obvious, but it requires careful thought to ensure that you don't end up in a place where nothing suits and you are entirely miserable. Do not choose placements and destinations that involve voluntary work abroad with animals if you have allergies, for example. Don't choose placements that involve heavy manual work if you have never done it before. You are likely to be spending at least several weeks in another country; it needs to be the right place as there is often no easy way home.
Choosing the Right Destination
Choosing the right destination must be combined, of course, with choosing the right activities. Whilst working in Africa may appeal to you, working with animals might not. In that case, seek out something that suits the skills that you have. If you are interested in education, think about teaching. There are also plenty of opportunities for students with practical and scientific skills that will come in very handy. Volunteering abroad for students should always be about finding something relevant and appropriate to how you see your personal development taking shape. Try to select an experience that is in harmony with your personality, hobbies and preferences.
It is also vital that you check on the kind of accommodation and food provision that you will receive. Some people who are carrying out voluntary placements abroad are paid a small amount as a maintenance cost for meals, but others are not. So make sure all the details are sorted out and clear in your mind before you travel. Volunteering abroad for students is rarely a uniform experience across the world. Sometimes, your placement accommodation might be with a local family, which is another issue to consider, especially if you are interested in learning some deeper truths about local life and conditions.
Not All About Fun
It also pays to check just how much free time you will have and what the leisure facilities in the area are. Many people who do voluntary work abroad with animals can be in quite remote areas. This means that leisure facilities in the conventional sense are likely to be limited. If you enjoy exploring remote areas and adventurous activities, that is an advantage. If you prefer to spend your weekends in a nightclub somewhere, it might be a problem.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly, you must head into this adventure with the right attitude. Overcoming adversity is often what makes a trip like this so rewarding. Embrace any obstacles and mishaps and learn to enjoy overcoming them. Then you can grow and gain as much as possible from what should be one of the most important experiences of your life.
Peter Smith was born in Dundee and has lived in Scotland ever since. He has successfully organised many volunteering opportunities abroad for young people. He now shares his expertise by writing about a range of travel matters for blogs and websites across the internet.