Easy Ways to Explore the World While Not Losing Out
As a recent college graduate who thought that her study abroad time in Germany was one of the best experiences of her life… I’m feeling the urge to explore the world. I’m not tied down yet with too many burdens, like a well-paying career or a family. The only thing holding me back is probably the biggest thing of all – money. I don’t have much, and the stuff that I do belongs to the government (who will surely hunt me down if I expatriate without returning their high interest loans). So, I offer to you… the five best ways to escape the country and navigate the world on a low budget.
1. Work on a farm – The bad part about leaving America is that you just can’t go to another country and get a job. There’s the whole work visa thing to figure out, and most countries won’t give you one because they want to save jobs for their own citizens. Enter solution number one: volunteer work on a farm. At first you might be thinking, why the heck would I scoop up cow poop all day for free? Well, consider the benefits. First of all, farmers provide all housing and meals for the duration of your work. Second, you get to be in a foreign country. That’s pretty much all you need. Sure, you won’t be making money, but it will give you the chance to experience the real culture of a community through the eyes of a hard-working family without the touristy gimmicks.
Sites to check out: http://wwoof.org/
2. Teach English – Maybe the pigs and the horses aren’t for you. Maybe you are more of a people person, and want to use your native skills to help others. Teaching English is a great option for anyone who knows how to speak it fluently, which as the current state of America shows, isn’t very many. However, if you are one of the lucky few who can actually string together a sentence without “u” or “wat”, then you are perfect for this gig. Some schools require that you have a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA degree, but these are easy enough to get as there are tons of websites that offer online courses. There are a plethora of openings in all Asian countries, like China, Japan, and Thailand. Even Russia and Eastern Europe have some openings. Unfortunately, most countries in Europe itself will not hire Americans because of the aforementioned work visa dilemma. The best part of this option is that you will actually make money! Most salaries are pretty decent in the country’s currency, but if you try to convert it back to US dollars, it becomes a paltry amount. So for those who aren’t looking to save, but rather want to live a comfortable life abroad, this is a great option. Warning: There are a lot of Teaching Abroad sites out there. I’m done a fair bit of research into this, but I can’t guarantee these sites are any good. Still, here are my top picks.
Sites to check out: http://www.eslemployment.com/
3. Become a nanny or governess – Believe it or not, the 19th century European phenomenon still lives! I was ecstatic when I heard about this, because I thought I could be like Jane Eyre and find a sexy, brooding, rich man to marry. While I’m sure you could find these opportunities on your own if you had the right connections, the best way to do it is to attend a school that gives you certification and an instant hook-up upon graduating. The school in particular I know about is only three months long, and certifies you in all the goodies – first aid, CPR, lifesaving, etc. It also teaches you a lot of valuable things about childcare and psychology, so you will always be prepared when that brat you watch starts whining. When you graduate, I have heard salaries can be in the $50,000 range, which is quite a hefty tag for just watching children all day and taking them fun places like the zoo. Plus, naturally, you get free room and board, since you have to live in and babysit.
Sites to check out: http://www.nanny-governess.com/
4. Go to college/grad school – While this may sound like an expensive option, think again. Many countries offer drastically reduced price compared to America universities. College for European students is free, actually. There are some countries that even let Americans in on this deal, like Sweden. In addition, graduate programs are typically half the length of an American graduate program. So even if it is slightly more expensive, it will turn out to actually be less expensive in the long run. Students have a visa that pretty much lets them do whatever they want while they are studying, so you can roam anywhere in Europe until your heart is content. If you have ever thought about getting your master’s degree in anything, or are doing the whole college search thing, definitely check it out.
Sites to check out: Really, it depends on where you want to go, but… http://www.gradschoolsabroad.com
5. Couch Surf your way to the moon – Ultimately, this is the most versatile option. For those of you who haven’t heard, CouchSurfing.com is an online community that offers a “couch” to world travelers for free. Yes, free. Theoretically, this couch may actually be a bed or a sleeping bag on the floor, but still, it is a roof over your head. They may also provide you with free sustenance, transportation, and fun. It all just depends on who you meet. You can literally travel from country to country, bumming around like a homeless person without the fear of getting bitten by a rat on the street while you sleep. CouchSurfing lets you see the reputation of every member of the site, so you can spy who is a rapist and who is not. While it may sound risky to some, it is definitely the best and most cost effective way for the freest of spirits to travel without cumbersome schedules or work duties.
Sites to check out: http://www.couchsurfing.com