Job Adventuring to Another Land

Living, Working & Traveling Abroad

Adventure travel volunteers on assignment!

A mind that has been stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
—Oliver Wendall Homes

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.

Hot Tips

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
For those who really want to immerse themselves into the culture, this is the way to go. You'll learn about the local way of life, new foods, society, politics, the arts—just like moving anywhere for the first time, setting up "shop", and getting connected. Most host families open their door to young adventurers for the pure love of cultural exchange; thus, most include you in their day-to-day activities, family excursions, and the such; all of which provide you with a real sense of belonging. Not only that, you'll also have the opportunity to brush up on your language skills—as you'll find that your entire world now revolves around a language other than English. If you've been practicing the host country's language, you're off to a great start. One thing you can count on: most host families will want you to speak their language. This can be a real brain buster at first; however, within time you'll start thinking more in their language, rather than thinking in English and translating. Your language skills will grow by leaps and bounds by pursuing this option. For those going abroad for the first time living with a host family is truly a very comforting and eye-opening arrangement; and for many, has been the highlight of their entire adventure. Also, with so many cheap mediums of communication, such as online calls, international calling services, Skype, email, MSN/Yahoo Messenger and SMS, it has become very convenient to keep in touch with anyone across the world.

Feature Article: A Day in the LifeHome Stays Abroad: 15 Ways to be Part of the Family
Would you like to experience life in a small Turkish village, see Mt. Fuji when you awake every morning, or hike the northern Spanish mountains with a family as your guide? Greenheart Travel staff members share some of their advice for making your homestay abroad experience a success.

Living at a College/University Dorm
Do you remember living in the dorms in your college years? It's really no different overseas—you generally have a roommate; there's no phone in your small, cramped room; the bathroom is down the hall; you're on a meal plan; and are governed by a Resident Advisor. However, this is one of the best ways to meet other folks from all over the world, who you'll be interacting with on a daily basis. It provides you with instant companionship; many who become friends for life! This options also beefs up your social calendar, as most dorms provide daily social outings, pub crawls, sports leagues, and so forth.

Finding Your Own Pad
This might be the toughest of the living options—and truly for the person who is a real adventurer. When you've arrived to your locale, it's best to set up shop at one of the youth hostels, a real inexpensive way to put a roof over your head. Hostels are also a great place to start spreading the word that you're looking for work and your own place to live. Most have job and housing boards that serve as a great starting point. Many travelers have turned their short stay at a hostel into a three to six month experience, where they are hired to work at the hostel (meeting people from around the world) and are provided with room, board, and some pocket money. Additionally, you'll find that most major cities and college towns have services to help you find temporary housing arrangements, with or without a roommate. Finding a person who has a house and is looking for a roommate might be your best bet, as you won't have to deal with all the messy details, such as phone and utility hook-up, furnishing the place, and so forth. Guidebooks, such as Let's Go, also provide all sorts of creative resources for inexpensive living arrangements.

Hostelling Resources

Hostelling International

On your first day in a foreign country (while dealing with jet-lag and unfamiliar terrain), you might pre-book a bed in a hostel before you leave home (for a small fee) through Hostelling International's IBN reservation network.

Worldwide Hostelling Links
Hostels.com
Backpackers Hostels Canada
Hostel World
Hostelz.com

   

The Hostel Handbook by Jim Williams

The Hostel Handbook
Anyone considering a unique travel adventure throughout North America can't do without The Hostel Handbook. Organized by region, over 500 cheap places to sleep (including Hostelling International hostels, independent hostels, backpackers' places) across North America are listed. In addition to the information being extremely fresh, the guide offers the budget traveler loads of travel tips and resources as well as information on buying a car and using "drive-aways" (and you can't go wrong for $4!). You can purchase the guide directly through the Hostel Handbook website.

   

Hostels USA

From hostels that provide a real family spirit to those you might want to bypass altogether, Hostels USA details more than 300 hostels throughout the country. With a new edition released every other year, this comprehensive and witty guide provides engaging descriptions, stories, and guest comments that will assist everyone from the "serious" hosteler to those who might want a romantic getaway. Author Paul Karr also has an entourage of other hostel guides that will take you beyond North America.

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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