Deciding to go abroad is very exciting — including the thrill of taking out a map and selecting your destination. However, there is more to consider than simply the location. Questions such as “how long do you want to go?” and “what do you want to do or learn?” also need to be considered.

In order to make the most of your time abroad, it’s best to plan out what type of experience you are looking for.

Work abroad

This is a great way to financially offset your experience while adding valuable skills to your resumé. Keep in mind that in order to earn money in another country, you may require a working visa. The visa application process involves an application fee and, in some cases, may take a few weeks to be issued. Working visas often grant you permission to work for up to two years, but every country is different so research is key. Prepare an international resumé and start researching specific companies before you book your plane ticket.

Study abroad
Studying abroad offers a great opportunity to continue your academics and to experience another country and culture. Your school may offer transfer credits and have academic agreements with international institutions, which means you may be granted credit recognition for schooling you have already completed. You may even receive scholarships or financial aid. Consider short-term experiences as well as semesters abroad, exchanges or condensed learning programs.

Volunteer abroad
Planting, painting, child care or construction are just some of the volunteering routes you can take to experience a culture firsthand while giving to a community in need. Volunteer programs often require you to pay or raise the necessary funds to cover program expenses. International volunteer programs range in length from one week to a few months and may have you staying in shared accommodations or with a local host family.

Backpack and travel
Backpacking can take you many places on your own schedule. You can stay in hostels, socialize, see tourist attractions and have full control over your budget and time. There are guide books available to help you learn about your chosen country. There are even group tour packages, which can give you an exciting, adventurous experience as well.

With so many choices it is important to make sure you are taking the path that best fits your personal goals. With some planning, you will be on the road to realizing your international dreams and having the experience of a lifetime.

– Tracy Rogers is the Career Services Co-ordinator for Seneca College, Seneca@York Campus.

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