The first time you begin to plan a move abroad, you quickly realize there are some big questions to consider. How long do I want to work abroad? What types of work can I do abroad? And what should I know before I go?
But, don’t stress! We’ve got you covered. We put together a few things to keep in mind before you leave, a quick look at the pros and cons of one, three, and six months working abroad, as well as a few awesome short term work abroad programs.
Essential to-do's before you leave for short term work abroad
Moving abroad is as exciting as it is hectic. With the swirling emotions of goodbyes, planes to catch, and a looming new life to start, it can be easy to make silly mistakes. To help keep your transition as carefree as possible, here are a few things to add to your checklist:
Get the Proper Visa
Don’t get stuck at your gate without the proper visa for your final destination! Scrambling to contact a visa agency, trying to pay over the phone, and battling language barriers as your plan is pulling away from the gate is a horrible experience.
Before you leave, double and triple check the latest visa information for your destination country. People, especially those travelling internationally the first time, are unaware that in many countries visa laws can change quickly with the local and regional politics. Contacting a US Embassy or a reputable local visa company are good ways to make sure you don’t get stranded.
Get Setup with a Wi-Fi Messenger
Vibr, Whatsapp, and WeChat are all wifi chat apps that allow you to send texts, make video calls and send voice messages to anyone in the world over wifi for free. I suggest downloading your chosen messenger app before leaving; no one wants their first experience in their new home to be spent frantically trying to download an app or finding a local SIM card. These apps will quickly become your lifeline both locally at to loved ones back one, so knock this one off your to-do list before you leave.
Setup a Method for Sending Money Back Home
Trying to conduct banking from abroad is a total pain. Assuming you are planning on bringing some money back home when you are done working, make sure you have a way to legally transfer your paycheck either directly into your US account or that a wire transfer is possible. Don’t be forced to leave money behind due to poor planning.
Figure Out How Long You're Going to Stay
This seems like an obvious question, but it often catches people by surprise. The types of locations, programs, and job opportunities available to you can greatly differ based on how long you are interested in working abroad. Not to mention your experience abroad will be totally different between staying one month and six months.
Which is for you? Below are some of the pros and cons of working one month, three months and six months abroad.
Work abroad for a month
What if you want to give living overseas a try, but you aren’t ready to make a long-term commitment just yet? For this, we suggest you work abroad for a month. These programs are fantastic for dipping a toe in the working-abroad waters without the fear of having made a big gamble on a long-term commitment.
- Great Test Run: Finding work abroad for a month is a great way to try working abroad without the pressure of a year long commitment.
- Minimal Life Disruption: No need for tearful goodbyes, you will be coming back to friends and family in no time! 4
- Enjoy the Honeymoon Phase: With only a month, there is not enough time for homesickness, it is all just fun, fun, fun!
- Not a Full Experience: Living abroad for only a month means you are packing up to leave before you are forced to overcome some of the challenges that come with living abroad long-term.
- Cultural Integration: A month is not enough time to really integrate with local culture, learn the language or make local friends
- Job Quality: Because you won’t be there for long, you will only be able to work in short term paid work abroad.
Recommended one month work abroad programs
- Working Holidays in Dublin with Stint Ireland | Visit Their Site
- Work and Travel in New Zealand with Smaller Earth | Visit Their Site
Work abroad for 3 months
My dad would call this a “tweener.” Not the flash in the pan of a a month stint abroad, but not the all-in risk of six months, three months has some of the pros (and cons) of both working 1 month and 6 months abroad. Three months may mean better work opportunities outside of short term paid work abroad and a more immersive cultural experience, but without weightt life choices that can come with leaving for 6 months.
- Greater Sense of Being “Gone”: Finding work abroad for 3 months gives a much greater sense of really leaving home, rather than just going for an extended vacation
- Time to Settle: 3 months is just enough time to begin to get comfortable in your new city.
- More Immersive: You could learn a fair amount if the local language, experience several local holidays, and make true friends in 3 months.
- Leaving Just as You Get Settled: After you work abroad for 3 months, you will likely be settling in nicely, adapting to the local cultural, and beginning to feel that you belong. And it is right at that time that you will be preparing to leave.
- Should I Stay or Should I Go?: You won’t be back too soon, but you also won’t be gone that long. Thinking especially about romantic relationships, this can be an awkward amount of time to navigate.
Recommended 3 months work abroad programs
- We Are Sno Ski Instructor Training Course and Paid Job | Visit Their Site
- Medicine & Healthcare in Tanzania with Projects Abroad | Visit Their Site
Working abroad for 6 months
Work overseas for 6 months, wow! That is a good chunk of time. In contrast to just a month, working abroad for six months will be more like really living abroad. You will experience more of the ebbs and flows of working abroad, more of the challenges, more independence (and loneliness) and more personal growth opportunities that one to three months. Here are some pros and cons of 6 month jobs abroad:
- Wider Range of Experiences: Working abroad for six months will give you more time to more deeply experience the local culture, make local friends, etc
- Greater Networking: If you end up wanting to stay longer, you will have had more time to make local professional connections and possibly turn six-months into...as long as you want!
- Learn the Language: Taking work overseas for 6 months is plenty of time to learn the local language which potentially holds a lot of professional value.
- Life Disruption: Preparing for a 6-month job abroad can mean quitting current jobs, ending romantic relationships and selling possessions. Working abroad for six months abroad will definitely change life back home.
- Miss Out Back Home: During a 6-month job abroad, babies are born, people get married, and people pass away. Taking opportunities to live and work abroad may mean missing some big life events back home.
- Home May Not Be the Same: Life keeps moving back home after you leave. By the time you return from working overseas for 6 months, people and places may not feel the same as they did when you get back
Recommended 6 months work abroad programs:
- Move to Berlin - Berliner Kickstarter | Visit Their Site
- Get Paid to Teach English Abroad with ITA | Visit Their Site
Next steps to short term work abroad
“Okay, I want to work abroad for a few months!” you say. That is great! If you are excited about the idea of working abroad and itching for the next steps to find opportunities to live and work abroad, you will find some awesome GoAbroad resource to check out below:
- Need some one-on-one time with an expert? Have a chat with one of our online advisors
- Compare programs and keep track of the ones you like with MyGoAbroad
- Check out our article Why Work Abroad? 9 Legit Reasons
- Check out our article 6 Bad@%$ Work Abroad Programs for Grown-@%$ Adults
As you begin your research, don’t forget to take things one step at a time. The process can feel a bit overwhelming, but keeping in mind that it is just a long series of baby steps can help things in perspective. It should be exciting after all!
I bet you thought we’d make a Rihanna joke right here
Opportunities to live and work abroad are abundant. With the right preparation and good advice, your time abroad (no matter how long) can be incredibly exciting and rewarding. But such a big move deserves your respect; putting in the right thought and effort before leaving can be the difference between oodles of fun and a bit of a trainwreck.