by Angelica Reciedro, inside columnist
If, during a person’s academic or professional career, there is the time and opportunity to go abroad, one must take it and run. As a student, any kind of international experience – whether it be volunteer service, study abroad or an internship – can enhance a résumé and help one stand out among the sea of job applicants. To help you set-up your ideal experience are “providers” – organizations that you pay to organize whatever trip you want to go on. Here’s some tips on navigating through the world of travel providers.
1. Narrow down a place and time
Are you available for just a week during spring break, or are you looking to give a year of your life to a cause? Before diving into the search, know the duration that you are able to participate. Do you want to be somewhere warm and tropical, or in a metropolitan hub? You may not have the exact city and country pinpointed but at least have a continent or region in mind. Also, be realistic about your language capabilities and how that will apply to your destination of choice.
2. Know how you want to contribute
Do you want to make coffee in Costa Rica, or test for tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa? Be specific in the exact field you want to work and know that the kind of work opportunities available may not be from the comfort of an office.
3. Know your budget
Consider food, housing and program fees. Then add on fees for travelling and sight-seeing. Some programs are all-inclusive, some are free in exchange for service and some offer ways to fund your trip. Know exactly what you’re getting out of it and plan ahead before signing on the dotted line.
4. Do a general Internet search, then through a travel search engine
See what you can find on your own through Google and then try a trusted search engine like www.goabroad.com or www.goinglobal.com (get access through HuskyCareerLink). Everything you need to know about “voluntourism” is right at your fingertips, you just have to collect and sift.
5. Consider providers already partnered with your school
There’s a reason schools partner up with organizations to send students abroad – good experiences came out of it and trusted connections were formed. Consider options that have already been proven to satisfy.
6. Beware of flashy websites and pictures
Be careful of programs that boast more pictures than words, and that seem to promise eternal happiness during this one trip. Know how to look beyond the glitz and attraction of travel and look at what they’re offering with a clear and logical head. Your experience will be much better off for it. A provider must customize your experience, not provide a one-size-fits-all to every traveler.
7. Ensure on-site safety and resources
Are there program staff you will have access to when you arrive? What are the emergency phone numbers you can contact? The provider you choose should be especially thorough with this; you should always feel safe and taken care of. They should be good with the logistics so that you can enjoy yourself, learn a new culture and grow both professionally and personally.
-Angelica Recierdo can be reached at Inside@HuntNewsNU.com.
Photo by Rowena Lindsay