Fancy doing something different this summer?
The 10 week count down to summer has begun! It’s time for plans to be laid out to make sure this summer delivers a fantastic and life changing experience.
With everyone from careers advisors to the First Lady commenting on the benefits of traveling and studying abroad, the word is out that getting experiences of other cultures, languages and environments can have a positive impact on your life.
Whether you’re preparing for college applications or making sure you stand out in job interviews, experiencing new places through a summer program can add real value to your resume. A unique experience in a foreign country, where you meet local people and learn about their culture, gives you a different perspective that will shape your personal skills for life.
There are, however, a number of legitimate reasons that people think a trip abroad is out of their reach, many of which can be easily overcome. So, what’s preventing young people from taking the leap and how should they address the challenges?
Overcoming barriers to an overseas adventure
1. It’s too expensive to go overseas
It goes without saying that international travel can be expensive. There’s the cost of flights, accommodation, excursions and, of course, insurance; all of which adds up. By planning ahead of time you can make sure that whatever summer trip you invest in is the right one and not a last minute, spontaneous holiday which might be fun but won’t necessarily expose you to new things and give you an immeasurable return on your investment. Overseas summer trips organized by experienced companies can cost as little as $1600 plus flights and there are lots of ways you can raise the money from part time jobs to fundraising events.
2. I need to work over the summer to save for college
Good for you! It’s important to invest in your future and working during the summer months is a necessity for many students financially, as well as building up their resume. However, it is possible to work AND visit another country. In fact, the dangling carrot of an overseas adventure can help motivate you to work even harder, again making you stand out in the workplace. And a trip doesn’t need to take the majority of your potential earning time. Many organizations offer 5-week summer programs, leaving plenty of time to work when you get back.
3. It’s not safe to travel on my own
It’s always sensible to check the government travel lists which clearly state which countries are considered unsafe for tourists. Travelling in a group may seem like a good option, in terms of safety in numbers but your travel plans will be based around decision by committee and you may have to sacrifice some of your own travel desires. If you do decide to travel on your own, it’s recommended to do so through a well established company, with a solid infrastructure in place. That way, if anything unexpected occurs in your destination country, there will be an organization in place to get you home safely.
4. I want to have fun, not be a volunteer
How about a bit of both? Work out what you want to get from your trip. Do you want beaches and relaxation, to play sports or to volunteer on a community project? Many programs offer the opportunity to do a bit of everything. And remember, there is always the option to extend your time at the end to soak up some rays on the beach. We think it’s nice to come home with more than just beach photographs though!
5. I don’t speak the language
Gone are the days of travellers needing to clutch a phrase book with them on their travels. There’s so much fantastic downloadable content available and city guides from well known websites such as TripAdvisor, which can be used offline and provide lots of useful information to help you get by in a new country. If you want to learn a new language, then immersing yourself in the local culture can be the fastest way to pick up words and phrases. Chinese is rapidly becoming a critical business language globally, so why not get a head start by immersing yourself in the local culture? If that’s a bit overwhelming, there are lots of other far away places where English is widely spoken, which can be much less intimidating!
Still sitting on the fence about a summer trip?
There’s no need. Think of your summer as the time to invest in your future. Allow yourself to find out new things, meet new people, visit new places and broaden your understanding of another part of the world.
What’s really stopping you? The countdown to summer is on, so start planning.