It could have been when you were still finishing undergraduate studies and one of your classmates in your English thesis class explained to the group how he “found himself” while studying in Florence the semester before. It could have been in your first interview out of college when your future employer asked “What was your most memorable experience in University?” It could have been that conversation you had last weekend with your friend, the one who brought their high school friend to the bar, when you were first introduced to the idea of “going abroad” and everything that came with it. And luckily that interest did not go away when you had those two weeks last June where every single day your former classmate posted pictures about their volunteer mission in Haiti – you know, those pictures where she is the one white girl smiling behind a group of 8 hungry, tired, but still also smiling children – that really turned you off.
But it wasn’t going to go away. The idea, that thought, wasn’t going to be squashed by a two week Facebook blast by your classmates. You had to go abroad. There was no other choice.
But how? The majority of people you knew/saw going abroad did it during undergraduate studies. And that is gone *tear*. Do not fear, however, there are still many ways to go abroad for a significant time after undergraduate studies AND still make money. What I present to you now is a guide to help you decide: What will I do abroad, Where will I go, How long will I go, and How can I do it? But before we get to that, we need to help identify what kind of expat you want to be….
The Four Categories
I’m not ready to take the leap, but I want to see what this is all about. I can do a month, maybe a summer, living in a different country. As long as I know when the “end” is (and it better be quick), I can do it. I am more curious in backpacking then living in one specific country.
Life is a party, I am a party, living abroad is a party. I am looking to live in a different country for at least 6 months, maybe a year. I just want to shake it up a bit and my current sales associate job at Old Navy isn’t cutting it for me. However, I am not interested in making a ton of money — I just want to party, travel, and meet my future love(rs). And take lots of pictures on the beach.
I just need to go abroad for a bit, make some money, and find myself. I want to live abroad for at least a year and I want to make a bit of money while doing it. Traveling and having fun is great, but I also want to experience a new culture and make lifelong friends — maybe even find a passion I never knew about. Sneak peek: this is the majority of us.
Teaching is my passion and/or working in the international sector is what I was made to do. I need a 1-3 year experience teaching/working in different countries and building my resume for future employers. This experience needs to be serious, I need to make serious money, and maybe Fun can stop by every once in a while.
Alright now that we know exactly who we are and what we want …. Yeah we probably don’t know yet. That is okay — this isn’t an easy decision, and my opinion isn’t the opinion — but it might be a good starting point for you. For each category, I will break down the most sensible traveling abroad options regarding the big questions of: What, Where, How, and How long. Stay tuned for a separate post for each category — links and research will be included!