As you prepare to study abroad in college, be sure to make time to volunteer while you’re in another country. Not only will this act help others, but it also has major benefits for you.
From making it easier for you to connect with the community to giving you an advantage during the job search, choosing to volunteer abroad is the gift that keeps on giving.
1. Meet People Abroad
When you study abroad, you can expect to meet lots of other students and professors. But that may be just about it, especially if you live on or near the college campus.
If you want to get out and meet people in the community, consider volunteering. Not only is it a great way to feel more involved and connected to your study abroad community, it’s also a great way to meet new and potentially life long friends.
Making friends abroad can sometimes seem impossible, given the language barrier and cultural differences. But by volunteering for an organization or cause you’re truly passionate about you’ll be working along side like-minded individuals who share you commitment.
For example, if you’re passionate about sustainable living, look for volunteer options at local community gardens. Or, if animal rescue is more your thing, why not volunteer at a shelter? You’ll have an immediate connection to your fellow volunteers and be able to find common ground on which to forge relationships.
In fact, many students who take time to volunteer during their semester or year abroad often make lasting friendships and keep in touch with those they volunteered with long after their stay has ended. So if you’re hoping to make some lifelong friends, this is one way to do it. You’ll be especially glad you did if you decide to visit again or move abroad after college.
2. Get to Know the Language and Culture
If you’re studying abroad in a country where English is not the first language, volunteering abroad will give you a great way to practice your language skills. After all, the more chances you have to hear and speak the language you’re learning with natives in daily life (as opposed to fellow learners in a classroom setting), the better.
Even if the country you choose doesn’t speak another language, your decision to volunteer abroad can help you learn more about the culture, lifestyle, and values of those who live there. By meeting and interacting with so many people each day, you’ll experience for yourself how the culture differs from your own.
This will allow you to broaden your knowledge of the world community as you gain a deeper and fuller understanding of how others see and interact with the world around them.
3. Make Your Resume Stand Out
Putting volunteer work on your resume is helpful, but putting volunteer work from abroad on it is outstanding. Not many job applicants can say they volunteered their time to help in another country while going to school — and global experience is something employers are increasingly coveting.
This is why your future job search is another reason to volunteer abroad. In fact, it benefits your job search in more ways than one. Listing it on your resume may help yours get picked from the pile, but discussing it in-person can help you nail the job interview.
As you can see, the benefits to volunteering abroad are rich and well-worth your time and effect. Even if you can only find an hour or two per week to volunteer, you’ll reap the benefits of helping people when you study in another country.