by Ruth Kennedy
Doing some travelling around the world is becoming a rite of passage for more and more young people in the UK and North America; usually just before or after heading to university and ultimately settling into a career of some kind. The pre-university travelling – the gap year trip – is often about romping from place to place, taking in the sights and seeing the world as a footloose nomad for a few months. Although many people take on some volunteering while they are on a gap year, the focus is generally on getting out there and seeing the world before getting your nose to the grindstone.
Those who choose to go abroad after their studies are often looking for a unique experience but one that will also contribute to building a future and maybe even a career. Getting valuable experience, qualifications and holding down a job become the focus and a new way to experience travelling the world.
In this short guide we provide advice on some of the key considerations including studying for a TEFL qualification, how to find a work placement, how to arrange accommodation and how to prepare for going away.
A popular and really solid approach to moving abroad for some time is to study for a TEFL qualification (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), which will open up teaching jobs across the globe. TEFL courses are hard work and a really strong qualification to have under your belt. This is particularly the case if you are interested in teaching as a long term career, but even if you plan on heading down a different career path teaching English abroad can help you develop skills that will be really useful no matter what you end up doing.
There are a few different TEFL courses available, of varying lengths and intensity. To open up lots of opportunities it’s a good idea to take one of the month long intensive courses. At the end of this you will be qualified for English teaching jobs all over the world and your course provider may also provide you with a list of current opportunities to help you find your first job. Asia is a top choice as well as the warmer areas of Europe, for example, Spain.
Finding a Job
As mentioned above, it’s often the case that upon completing a TEFL course you’ll be given access to a list of potential job opportunities in different countries. If you want to look beyond this list there are some other websites that can be really helpful. Sites such as Go Overseas and Footprints Recruiting list jobs and offer lots of helpful information so you can quickly find your feet with a job in the country you want to live.
Some work placements abroad include a place to stay – accommodation can be part of the payment for your services, whereas other placements have their own accommodation which you must pay to rent. This allows you to formulate a reliable plan for where you’ll live, and it can be particularly good for meeting people when you arrive and creating a network of friends who are doing a similar job to you while you’re abroad.
If you aren’t getting accommodation through your placement you can either arrange a place to stay before you head out or you could organise temporary accommodation at a hostel for the beginning of your stay. This gives you a chance to visit places once you arrive to find a place where you’ll be happy and secure while you’re there. Host families, private apartments and hostel accommodation are all options, and it really just depends on the kind of lifestyle you want to have and how much cash you’ll have to spend on living costs.
Beyond the obvious things like finding a job and somewhere to stay, there are a few other bits that you’ll need to sort out as part of your move. One is international health insurance, which may need to be specific to place where you go. Aetna International (more info) offers information about moving abroad and will help you find the most suitable policy to cover you for your stay.
You may also need to open a bank account in the country you are heading to, and you should also let your current bank know that you are leaving the country for the time being. You may even be able to set up an international current account with your home bank rather than open an account separately abroad – although being able to go into a branch when you need to could be a real advantage while you’re away.
The best thing you can do is speak to other people who have taken a similar trip and find out what worked for them. Once you get the logistics sorted you can head out on the adventure of a lifetime and come back with a range of skills and aptitudes that will stand you in great stead as you enter the world of work back home.