For many, living and working abroad for short and extended periods of time becomes the adventure of a lifetime. Many trek off to unknown lands to fill a gap of time in their lives, improve their fluency in a foreign language, meet new and interesting people, and/or build self-reliance. Whatever your case, by traveling to a new land, you'll have the chance to immerse yourself in the culture and meet people on their own terms, rather than experiencing a culture as a tourist would.
Do be prepared, though: landing a job overseas often takes months of preparation. But the hard work you put into preparing for your journey will give you the confidence to find and land a job on any soil.
Where to begin? First, broadcast your intentions to the world. Do you have friends, family, or pen pals who are scattered throughout the world? How about coworkers or colleagues who have worked or lived on foreign soil? The more widely publicized your plans, the better chance you'll pick up a lead or two and learn about what to expect and plan for.
Perhaps you don't have an aunt in Italy or a pen pal in Fiji. So then what? For the person who needs the security of having a job before departure, you'll find that there are plenty of organizations who will provide you with packaged work arrangements. These programs provide you with a job, set up living arrangements, and take care of all the red tape (work permits, visas, health insurance). However, these programs also charge a participation fee, which might not fit into your adventure budget.
An alternative to this packaged deal is to do as much initial legwork as you can at home prior to departure, then begin exploring local job possibilities upon arrival. Besides the leads provided in the Worldwide Short-Term Jobs Directory, there are plenty of other great travel/job guides and websites that provide leads specific to the foreign land you've decided to travel to. You'll also find that the fellow travelers you meet undoubtedly become a gold mine of leads and other great information. Job boards at youth hostels, universities, or cafés, or listings in local newspapers also serve as potential starting points for your search.
Just like job-hunting on your home turf, landing a job becomes easier when you meet your prospective employer face-to-face. You'll find that walking in to a place where you really want to work and asking for a job is by far the most effective method of landing a job overseas. The fact is, most employers don't want to deal with someone who is ten thousand miles away: when you physically make your presence and your passion known, you begin to seem like a real possibility. If there are no openings at the time (and it's financially feasible), ask if you can volunteer. You'll prove your abilities and you'll have an excellent chance of filling a vacancy when one opens.
• Find out as much as you can about the country you'll be traveling to before you leave. Your local bookstore (including our featured work and travel books) as well as Google & Bing are great starting points.
• Talk to others who have worked abroad—the information they share with you will be invaluable.
• University and college towns generally offer more social and employment opportunities for the young and the young-at-heart. Check out these places first.Living Overseas. . .
The living part of your work abroad experience might just be as important as the work itself! Finding the right digs will provide you with a sense of belonging and a positive connection to your new community. Your living arrangements generally fall under these options: living with a host family, living in a College/University dorm, or finding your own pad.
Living with a Host Family
Home Stays Abroad: 15 Ways to be Part of the Family
Living at a College/University Dorm
Finding Your Own Pad
No matter what your reasons are for working and living abroad (or how you do it), you are bound to meet many interesting characters, collect a wealth of tales to bring back home and learn a lot more about yourself. Bon Voyage!
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