How can you make volunteer abroad experience rewarding?
Now that you have selected your volunteer abroad program, you must be all excited and nervous about embarking on this exciting journey! As much as you may have prepared for this trip, we’re sure you will have uncertainties and questions when it comes to making the best out of your volunteer abroad experience. In this article, we have some tips and guidance to help you have the most rewarding volunteer abroad experience!
How to make your volunteer abroad experience rewarding
Before beginning your trip, you should be well-informed on your roles and responsibilities at the project site, any safety concerns at the host country, logistical arrangements and your host family’s background. This would help make your transition and volunteer abroad experience a lot better!
Learn the local language
While at least basic English would be spoken at most volunteer abroad project sites, it is always useful to know the local language. You don’t even need to be fluent, just learn a few words and try talking to the community! They will appreciate your efforts and open up to you!
Communicate with your program coordinator
In any circumstances, please do not keep any problems that you are facing to yourself. The program coordinators are there to help you through any issues that arise during your stay, so do communicate with them and ask for help when needed.
Do not expect luxury/comfort
In order to have the most rewarding volunteer abroad experience, you should refrain yourself from expecting First World luxuries at the project site. Be prepared to live without Western toilets, hot showers, widespread Wifi, and even 24/7 electricity at your project site!
Support and show passion in your cause and project
Please choose to assist with a cause that you are passionate about. There is no point in signing up for an animal conservation project, for example, if you do not like animals and are not comfortable with the responsibilities expected of you. Without passion, you will get bored very quickly at the host country and will not enjoy your stay or make significant contributions to the cause at stake.
Do not expect to make a big difference immediately
A lot of beginners to volunteering think that the only way to have the most rewarding volunteer abroad experience is to make a significant difference immediately upon arrival. Keep in mind that in a lot of projects, the impact of your assistance will only be seen after a long time, when you are no longer at the project site. Do keep in touch with your program coordinator to be kept updated on the progress!
Try to enjoy local culture, country, food
Some volunteers embark on their volunteer abroad experience by refusing to try any of the local culture and food. They end up staying in their comfort zone and never learning the wonderful things that this new country has to offer. Do not make this mistake! Be open to try new things and immerse yourself in the local traditions.
Be positive and cheerful
As is true with any work, you will definitely come across days that are difficult and challenges that just seem impossible to overcome. Do not let these minor problems deter you from pursuing your goals. Keep a positive attitude and try to contribute to the project as best as you can. Nobody is perfect, so it is alright to make mistakes.
We hope that this article has helped you realize that having a rewarding volunteer abroad experience is not that difficult. Give yourself ample time to prepare prior to the trip and embark on this journey with an optimistic attitude. Be open to try new things and always ask for help if needed. You will surely have an adventure of a lifetime by volunteering abroad!