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How to Extend Your Study Abroad Experience Beyond School

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As a student spending time abroad, you’re in the midst of a unique opportunity you should make the most of. Studying in another country exposes you to an entirely new world — but a semester away isn’t your only avenue of exploring a foreign territory.

Whether you’re planning your global adventure, in the middle of your study abroad experience or watching it wind to a close, you have multiple options to extend your studies and make more of your time overseas. Here are a few ways to continue your learning trajectory as you travel.

1. Participating in an International Internship

Ample opportunities exist for both paid and unpaid internships abroad. These do take time to apply for and work toward, but they’re well worth it if you’re sincere about your goals. You can apply for an internship in your field of study, or you can apply for a shorter stint in a region you’ve always wanted to explore. Always dreamed of working for a particular organization? You can focus there, too. Talk to your academic advisor about possibilities, or check out internship lists online for ideas.

2. Becoming an Au Pair

Love kids and other cultures? Extend your exploration by becoming an au pair abroad. An au pair is similar to a nanny, but can also act as a tutor, perform light housekeeping help and prep family meals. Both during work and in your free time, you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in another country and another lifestyle. The experience is a lot like having a host family while studying abroad, and it’s so positive that 93 percent of au pairs recommend it to others.

The qualifications and duties of an au pair vary from country to country. Some nations require a visa and basic language skills if English is not the native tongue. Certain host families require you to achieve a certain level of education. Others have no such restrictions, but having completed your bachelor’s degree gives you a distinct advantage.

3. Enrolling at a Foreign Language School Abroad

Enrolling in a foreign language school is another way to extend your studies abroad. Because you reside in the foreign land already, you’re able to fully immerse yourself in your learning. You’ll practice your skills both in the classroom and in your everyday life, strengthening both your fluency and your cultural exposure. In an increasingly global community, mastering a foreign language opens a host of career opportunities. Additionally, learning a foreign language gives you greater fluency in your native tongue, as learning different syntax rules helps you better understand grammatical concepts.

4. Going to Grad School/Undergrad School Abroad

Have you considered getting a second undergraduate degree in a different field or extending your learning beyond your bachelor’s degree? Why not continue studying abroad for your next higher educational experience? Your academic advisor is the best place to start when exploring your options. Even if you don’t end up enrolling at the same institution where you got your original degree, they can provide information about general scholarships and financial aid.

5. Doing a Student Exchange

Another way you can extend your studies abroad is by participating in a student exchange. In this sort of arrangement, you enroll in a participating college state-side, and then enlist in the program. When selecting a student exchange, ask your advisor about how the process may delay your graduation. Make sure the program you select adheres to all academic requirements for your degree.

6. Conducting Field Research Abroad

You can extend your study time with permission from your university by participating in a field research project. Unlike traditional classroom learning, in field research, you develop your hypothesis and methodology for testing. While you’ll need special permission to perform any research using human subjects, the approval process for other types of an investigation proves easier.
Field research allows you to follow your true passion. It also unites the theories you learned in the classroom with real-world applications. You might even make a name for yourself as a pioneer in your field — a great stepping stone on any career path.

7. Teaching English Abroad

Even if you’re not a certified English teacher, you can earn your teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) certification. Doing so takes less time than you think — and then the world is your oyster. The best part about teaching English overseas? You get paid, often quite well, and sometimes receive generous stipends for living arrangements. Many people choose to teach abroad for 2-3 years, save up considerable money due to lower costs of living, then return home with their additional savings.

8. Volunteering/Service Learning Abroad

Service learning enables you to take the knowledge you’ve gained and apply it in a practical sense to aid local humanitarian organizations in their efforts. Many people think of service learning as applying only to impoverished regions. While you certainly can tackle projects in third-world nations, opportunities exist in developed countries as well. This is an important consideration if you have concerns about safety.

9. Become a Hostel Worker

Have you ever dreamed of backpacking through Europe but lack the requisite funding to make doing so affordable? Why not take on work in a hostel in exchange for lodging?
Everything in Europe is relatively close together, so you can stay in one location and travel by train to other destinations over long weekends. Or you can work as you rove, taking new positions in exchange for a place to stay. If you have basic household or hospitality skills, you can finance your journey.

Extending Your Studies Abroad

Studying abroad offers so much room to explore — but you have so many more options than taking classes overseas. Extend your stay or enrich your study abroad experience with a supplemental adventure — and see what you learn along the way.

About the Author

Alyssa Abel is a student life and education blogger who loves all things study abroad. Keep up with her original content on Syllabusy for more insights into study skills, student opportunities and taking on college life.

For more great college content, check out the other blogs on College Basics.