Nowadays, I find that more and more of younger generations want to find new experiences and adventures, to be educated beyond the limitation of a classroom and one of the ways to do it is through traveling. There is lots of money that needs to be
spent invested for traveling and since you will have to invest on it, don’t you want a more authentic and meaningful kind of travel? Fellow millennials, you are in luck! There are many organizations out there offering exciting programs that allows you to have a more local experience.
AIESEC Global Volunteer
Suitable if you are around 18-26 and want to work and improve local communities, so not only do you travel but you also get to do some volunteering in your host country, such as teaching, health, etc. First, you should find and apply to your local AIESEC. Once accepted, there are many projects in different countries so find one that interests you and follow the interview process. You are usually given free accommodation (dorm or host family) and sometimes lunch, but you should ask about the details in the interview since every project differs.
I did the Global Volunteer program 2 years ago to Czech Republic and I must say it was a really good experience and I cannot recommend it enough. My project was called EDISON and I taught in schools about Indonesian culture, I felt that I became more confident in public speaking and became more adaptable. On the weekend, my friends and I were able to travel around Czech Republic and neighboring countries. That being said, each AIESEC local committee has different quality and I was lucky to be hosted by a really organized AIESEC local committee. Don’t let this deter you though, ask questions in your interview to get a feel about the local committee’s quality. One of my friends went to the Philippines after a typhoon through AIESEC and he helped to rebuild local schools and taught disabled people, how awesome is that!
Lions Club International
Lions Club International Youth Exchange offers great mix of camp where you can meet other youths and host family exchange, where you can experience living with locals and it usually runs in the summer. The age limit depends on the local host, but some starts as young as 15 to 22 years old in some projects. Try to find your local Lions Club and ask how you can participate as Youth Exchange. I went with Lions Club International twice, once to Colorado, USA and another to Finland. The first one to Colorado was my first time away for so long from home and I enjoyed it. However it has a different feel to what AIESEC offers in the way that you don’t have a project that you are responsible for and it is great for younger crowd to experience a cultural exchange and you can be certain that you will be taken care of very well. Find out more about the program here.
Short for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, WWOOF is a network of opportunities for you to work on organic farms around the world where in return you get free food and accommodation, it can be a few days to a few months depending on the project. With WWOOF you need to pay certain fee to the local national WWOOF before you can contact the host. Pay attention to do’s and don’ts on WWOOF-ing and find awesome projects that you like, such as working in vineyards, olive farm, beekeeping, and many more. With extensive offering of projects, WWOOF is a unique alternative for volunteering, but keep in mind that you need to establish clear communication with your host so you know what to expect and plan and apply in advance.
Look no further than your own school/university! Some schools have study abroad or student exchange program, so ask around. The plus and minus side of this type of traveling is the studying involved, you get to experience other country’s education system but probably not that much time of traveling around although it depends on the program itself. If you’re ready for the leap, you should apply to AFS, Rotary International, Youth For Understanding, and other international organizations that offers high school students to study abroad for longer period, usually a semester or a year. This means you can explore and learn more about the country, the culture, and the language. Not only that, but living away from your family and friends, basically your comfort zone at such age instills more independency and adaptability.In this case, you usually live with a host family for few months and go to a local school. Some changes host family after a few months but some stays with the same one for the duration of the exchange.
Have you travelled with any of these organizations or one that is not on this list? Share on the comment below!
Until next time,