Gap years are a popular idea for many students who are stuck on what they want to do with their future or who just want to explore the world before they get stuck into even more education. Some people take a year out to travel, while others do the same and volunteer abroad to broaden their horizons, get an experience of working and, above all, help out people who need the good will of others. It can be a fantastic experience, but if you go into such an endeavour blind, you could end up regretting it. So here are some top tips on how to go about volunteering abroad during a gap year.
One of the biggest issues surrounding such a potentially life-changing venture is the financial side. Travelling isn’t free and, if you’re a student, the chances are you have a little amount of money to your name – so looking to your bank isn’t going to work. What do you do? You fundraise! It may take time, but if you plan your trip accordingly, you should have plenty of time to raise funds. Remember, you don’t have to act coy and feel shy about asking for money to fund your travels; after all, you’re going to be helping others out in a foreign country!
Share your ideas, your ambitions, and your beliefs. Make sure they understand why you’re doing it and give them some passion. But don’t just leave fundraising to donations from others; take up a part-time job and save, save, save! You have to be dedicated.
Use the web
Search engines are a wonderful thing, especially when you’re trying to find helpful tips and advice about gap years and volunteering. Thousands of people have done it, so there will be hundreds of success stories and testimonials about how people did it and what the experience was like.
Their stories could inspire you further, inspire ideas, and even potentially get you even more excited than you were before!
If fundraising is becoming a struggle, then take up a blog – get yourself out there! Create a Facebook page, a Twitter page, a nice blog and basically get people into your plans! Give them a reason to want to donate money to your cause. By entertaining them with funny stories, articles and content, your pages could be visited hundreds, potentially thousands, of times a day.
It’s all about awareness to get your gap year rolling!
The best way to find out if a gap year abroad could be for you is by hearing your friend’s opinions who have been there and done it. The opinion of a respected friend could make a major difference in your decisions – after all, it is a massive decision for anyone to make!
It’s not all fun and adventures; you will have to work hard and you will definitely feel a culture change no matter where you go!
Do your research
Research, with any big decision in life, is essential, but with a gap year it’s beyond essential. If you don’t research every part of your trip, you could end up either struggling financially or in a situation you don’t want to be in.
Take your time, put the effort in, ask around, build up your funds, and be happy with your final decision. It’s your life, so live it!
Pick a good cause
So, you’ve got enough funds for your trip, but do you know where you’re going to go? Is it Peru, Africa, Asia? Wherever you go, make sure you have everything worked out regarding where you’re going to live and how much it’s going to cost. Oversights are this stage could be costly, so while it may not be exciting it is essential. UNICEF, the International Volunteerism Resource Centre (IVRC) and the International Volunteers Program Association (IVPA) are all out there to help you find the perfect gap year volunteer job, location and cause.
Please, whatever you do, don’t use a resource or company who is not backed by the official sources and organisations. You could end up a seriously sticky situation. Pick a cause which you feel passionate about. Something that you think you can really do well in.
Many thanks to the Cancer Research Jobs team for putting together this informative article.