Foreign Exchange Programs for Adults
Spending extended time abroad on a gap year or a working vacation can be seen as "kid stuff," reserved for lucky, fresh-faced graduates who haven't yet entered the workforce or obtained on real responsibilities. But that perspective is shortsighted: Even a brief stint overseas in an exchange program could completely change your view and benefit your career at any given stage of the game. It's easy to make excuses, but definitely going abroad has never been easier — the problem is narrowing down your choices. To choose an adult-friendly exchange program, consider how you'd love to devote your time overseas and what the encounter's key takeaways needs to be. Many people's plans will match inside these 3 categories: cultural or language immersion, working vacations or volunteering.
Language or Cultural Immersion Programs
A language immersion program will probably be right up your street. Many applications will match you with a host family, which will allow you to comprehend cultural customs in a way that just is not possible for those who live alone or together with other foreigners. If you would like an intensive approach, programs such as Language Holiday (languagevacation.com
) let you live with a private tutor. Based on the structure you select, you might have the ability to concentrate on taking courses, or you could be set in a hands-on surroundings doing volunteer work with native speakers — a surefire way to enhance your abilities and find out local slang. Programs such as Education First (ef.edu
) may connect you with language colleges in 40 different destinations, while programs like United Earth (unitedplanet.org
) can set you into Central or South American orphanages, hospitals or construction websites, allowing you to build your Spanish skills and add to the community. Quest International offers alternatives that combine a bit of everything, such as conventional "trade" opportunities and the unique opportunity for teachers and their students to exchange places with a course abroad.
Working holidays are a popular way to see more of the world without draining your wallet. Through programs such as Workaway (workaway.info
) or Help Exchange (helpx.net
), you can find farmers, hotel proprietors, gardeners and countless other organizations or individuals searching for help. Figuring out the obstacles and immigration laws involved could be tough, but so consult with program staff and consular government about how to move. If this sounds too cluttered to your liking, then look into more competitive, government-backed programs like the various Fulbright fellowships. Younger adults may use to work as native Language teaching assistants, while people of all ages may be eligible for study fellowships. Special exchange opportunities are also available for journalists, educators and other professionals.
Whether you are hoping to make a difference in a struggling community, pad your resume with an international experience or just have fun working on a meaningful job, doing volunteer work overseas won't disappoint. "Volun-tourism" is a popular phenomenon and also a great way to return to the local culture that you are living in. It can also be a fantastic way to build your language skills, even if that's not the attention of your stay. Programs such as Cross Cultural Solutions (crossculturalsolutions.org
) offer opportunities especially designed to boost your career or help you identify whether you want to follow a new professional track. Travellers Worldwide also offers opportunities tailored to mature volunteers, individuals taking breaks in their typical 9-to-5 responsibilities and retirees.
Whether you're going overseas
through a government-sponsored schedule or just coordinating with a friendly couch organizers, exploring visa requirements for your stay is essential. Many programs will assist with organizing any necessary paperwork to you, but you might have to provide documents such as bank statements or health insurance cards. For United States citizens, rules vary greatly based on mutual arrangements and a number of different factors. For instance, U.S. passport holders who intend to stay in some of the 26 countries in the Schengen area of Europe for up to 90 days don't have to submit an application for any kind of visa, but even a brief trip to India needs a tourist visa. Prerequisites may also vary depending upon your age and whether you plan to study, work or travel in numerous nations. It is best to check directly with all the embassies or consular government for the states you're considering seeing.