How do you make life as a graduate even more of an adventure? You move to another country.
It’s hard to give advice on how to move abroad, because there are so many places you may want to go and so many reasons to go there (pursuing a job as a foreign correspondent, or following an Italian lover you met during study abroad?). Rather than list over-generalized steps for you to follow, here are some thoughts from Tiffany Harrison, the partnership and outreach manager for GoAbroad.com, a database of organizations providing study abroad, volunteer, internship and job programs plus financial aid resources. Harrison is a recent grad who studied abroad in Stirling, Scotland, for a year and served as an international mentor and peer adviser for the CSU Chico study abroad office.
What are the benefits of moving abroad?
Honestly, you could say that there are limitless benefits. There’s definitely that cultural and educational enrichment that you’re not going to get from your home country. Also, working abroad in general is going to improve your capacity for global awareness.
In regards to career, if you’re going over there to work for a while and then maybe move back, it’s really going to be an awesome boost to your resume, because it’s going to showcase that international experience and will definitely make you stand out from the crowd.
Apart from loving a certain culture or having a passion for travel, why are people looking abroad?
One of the things that we notice is that a lot of recent grads are looking for opportunities beyond their own home country because, with the recession, you have to get really creative with the opportunities that you’re pursuing. Looking for employment overseas — whether it’s a job, a paid internship or a volunteer experience — allows you to gain those skill sets and jump into entry-level jobs that might not necessarily be available in the U.S. because of the economy.
“With so many graduates, even when you have your degree, you don’t know for sure exactly what you want to do. A lot of these programs are for a shorter amount of time, so you get that taste, you get that experience, you get those skills that you need, and you can take that and apply it to something else or settle into a career.”
How expensive is it to up and move to another country?
It really does depend on the type of travel that you’re doing, and it’s different for each person. You’re going to have your flight costs, your visa and your vaccinations. GoAbroad.com has a scholarship directory with fellowships, grants and scholarships for all different types of programs. People think it’s just for study abroad programs, but there are different types of opportunities to fund your travels.
Cost is one of the biggest drawbacks that people associate with going overseas. I would recommend looking at a third-party program provider like those listed on GoAbroad. When going abroad with those program providers, so many of those costs–tuition, in-country costs and any extra costs associated with you being there — are going to be covered by what you’re paying for the program, so that can really help cut costs.
It seems like these programs could also help people looking to start their career in another country even though they don’t have any contacts there yet.
With so many graduates, even when you have your degree, you don’t know for sure exactly what you want to do. A lot of these programs -– it depends on which kind you’re looking into –- are for a shorter amount of time, so you get that taste, you get that experience, you get those skills that you need, and you can take that and apply it to something else or settle into a career. Once you’re in a country, you’re going to be establishing those connections and networking, and that opens so many doors.
Also from the recent-graduate perspective, how do you go about convincing your parents that this is a good idea?
I think it definitely comes down to keeping them involved and doing the research and having that communication established from the beginning. When you know what you’re talking about and have all your bases covered, and you can share that information with them, it’s going to make a big difference.
Sit down with them and ask them what questions and concerns they have. You can then take those to alumni who have done the program you might be interested in or to people who are still in-country, and their answers can give your parents some of the peace of mind they are looking for.
Also, make it clear to them what a boost this is to your resume. That’s a big thing -– when you’re graduating and your parents are worried about what you’re going to do next and how you’re going to make a living, showcasing to them the transferable job skills that you’re going to get out of this will help.
What advice would you give to someone moving abroad?
In general, I would say to be open-minded to every experience, whether it’s good or bad. When you’re traveling abroad -– especially when you’re going to work and you’re situating yourself in this new culture with these new people — you’re going to learn so much about everything around you. If you’re going into it with the right mindset, you’re going to get the most out of the experience that you can.