GoAbroad Interview

Elisabeth Gustavsson - Content & Marketing Manager

Elisabeth Gustavsson - Content & Marketing Manager

Elisabeth has a background in media production, but through her travels, she met the founder of Global Nomadic and the direction of her career shifted. Through her role as content manager, Elisabeth writes inspiring blog posts about Global Nomadic’s projects across the world and enjoys raising awareness about meaningful causes. And of course, she doesn’t mind getting the chance to visit each one in person too.

You are originally from Sweden but you dedicated your life to travel back in 2010. How did you become involved with Global Nomadic?

I was at the end of a six month trip around the world when I met Jeremy Freedman in the Cook Islands, where he was traveling to visit one of our project partners. My long trip had changed me at my core and when an opportunity arose at Global Nomadic, I finally found a way to combine my love of travel with a desire to do something truly worthwhile with my time.

A group of volunteers in Thailand
Meeting with volunteers on site in Thailand

What sets Global Nomadic apart from other international program providers?

For me, it’s reason why I took this job. All of us who work with Global Nomadic share a common belief that the world can be made a better place, starting at a grass roots level. By connecting people and projects with this same idea, a vital exchange is made not just of hands-on experiences, but also of ideas of how this world could be built. What sets Global Nomadic apart is the ease of making this happen, by opening up a direct line between people seeking meaningful international internship experiences and small organisations doing very important work. The key here is that the word meaningful applies to both the individual career and the development of our global society, on a much larger, long-term scale.

Why would you choose Global Nomadic if you were looking for an opportunity to go abroad?

For the same reasons as mentioned earlier, but also because I would know the project I am working with is genuine. Having traveled around the world to visit our project partners, I know how rare this is and it’s something I believe is very important to anyone regardless of whether they are looking for an internship or a volunteer placement. This industry is unfortunately riddled with many shady organisations, which make very light of abusing genuine altruism in the name of money-making. As an individual, it can be very hard to distinguish these from those organisation truly making a difference and I would value the certainty a placement through Global Nomadic could give me.

A laptop and a coconut with a view of the ocean
Outdoor offices are the best!

What does a typical day of work look like for you?

Being chained to my laptop, haha! But in all seriousness, my days vary a lot, depending on if I’m traveling or not. Since most of what I do revolves around writing, I do spend quite a lot of time pounding the keyboard. I’m also very lucky that I get to keep my finger on the pulse of news relevant to the many fields with which we work, meaning I get to learn a lot about so many different things, whether this is tagging along on a seagrass survey on a remote Cambodian island or interviewing a research fellow about their career choices here in London.

How does the Global Nomadic team help participants prepare for life abroad?

We offer a full pre-departure support package, this is especially valuable if you haven’t traveled abroad before. We’ve all been there and know it can be a very daunting experience. If you choose to, we can help you with basically everything, from finding an affordable flight to recommendations about vaccinations, things to pack, and of course, cultural guides to your project destination.

Traveling isn’t just about seeing a new place, it’s about participating in a new culture and that is a privilege. Learning about that new culture and how to respect it is vital, and also teaches you to offer the same for visitors to your own country.
A woman on top of a mountain
Working from the road has its perks!

What is the most important thing participants bring home with them from their time abroad with Global Nomadic?

I think what most people don’t expect to bring back is new knowledge about themselves. One of our participants on the journalism project in Buenos Aires put it quite simply: “I came to Argentina, and I learned about me.” Realising your true potential, your role in the world, and all the opportunities that lie in it is an incredible lesson that is very difficult to learn if you never leave home.

If you could participate in a Global Nomadic program, which program would you choose and why?

Oh, such a difficult choice!! There are so many incredible projects and some I have already been lucky enough to visit, but one of my new absolute favourites has to be the Rewilding Environmental Development Internship in Namibia. It’s centered on transforming a vast area of land long used for livestock farming back into a wildlife reserve. While on the project you get to go on horseback expeditions into the bush and learn incredible skills from wildlife trackers. Everyone dreams of being a cowgirl in the African desert, right?

A woman holding a cup of tea
When in a tea plantation...you drink tea.

Why do you love working for Global Nomadic?

I love being able to feel that what I do actually makes a difference to the way we as humans treat our planet and each other. It’s not that I think I change the world single-handedly, but it’s an incredible feeling when someone comes back from a project and tells about everything they’ve done, seen, and been inspired to do in the future. And of course, being able to travel and be inspired myself!