Today on the GoAbroad Blog, we feature a guest post from researcher and writer, Sarah Rexman. As many of you who have studied abroad, or are currently studying abroad, will know: returning home after your international studies can often be one of the hardest parts of the experience. If you find that you're not quite ready, and are interested in staying longer, Sarah is thrilled to share with GoAbroad readers some of the many ways that this can be accomplished!
Even if you've spent a semester or a whole year in another country, you may not have had an opportunity to explore as much as you would have liked, to get to know the culture or to form solid friendships. The end of your study program doesn't have to mean the end of your time abroad.
There are many ways that you can extend your stay abroad without having to dip into savings or to rely on your parents' largesse. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
There are many organizations that will provide room and board in exchange for your volunteer efforts. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) is one such program that is very well-known. Volunteers are matched with opportunities on farms around the world for short or long terms in exchange for room and board at those farms. Sign up for this or another program to extend your stay in the country where you studied or to travel to someplace new.
You can also explore GoAbroad.com for thousands of other international volunteer opportunities around the world.
There are opportunities in many countries around the world to teach English (and occasionally other subjects). You can sign up for a short assignment -- usually a month to three months as I did -- or something more long-term (a typical contract is for a year). Not only will you receive a salary, but you will also likely receive accommodations or a stipend for housing.
Many families are eager to learn a new language but do not have the money to pay for a private tutor. Instead, they offer room and board in exchange for someone to teach them. Most opportunities last only a few months -- ideal for students looking to travel a bit more before the school year begins again or they start looking for work back home.
If you aren't able to find this room-for-tutoring agreement, then you can certainly tutor for pay as a way to finance your extended stay. Just be sure your current visa doesn't prohibit you from this type of work.
As a college student, you should be used to go old-fashioned mooching. Why not participate in some sanctioned mooching to extend your travels? CouchSurfing.org is a site that connects people who have an extra room or a couch they don't mind loaning out for the night with travelers from around the world. You get a free night (or maybe a couple of nights) in someone's home, and you agree to cook a meal or offer some other token gesture in exchange.
With the right planning, you could conceivably extend your stay for as long as you like by staying on the couches of different host families. You just have to plan ahead since arranging your stay requires chatting with the host and working out all the details to the satisfaction of both parties.
You don't have to be independently wealthy or the recipient of a trust fund in order to travel the world. If your study abroad program has ended but you want to continue to travel, you can extend your stay by volunteering, teaching or tutoring, or finding a willing family to let you borrow their couch for a night (or two).
What other ways have you been able to extend your travel time after your study abroad has ended? Tell us your ideas in the comments!
Sarah Rexman is the main researcher and writer for bedbugs.org. Her most recent accomplishment includes graduating from Florida State, with a degree in environmental science. Her current focus for the site involves researching how to get rid of bed bugs with tools such as bed bug insecticide.