Scrolling through your Instagram feed is getting predictable. All of your friends are out on cliché vacations it seems, doing the usual backpacking trope.
Selfies in front of the Eiffel tower: check.
Someone’s back, overlooking a mountain range with extreme Lo-Fi filter: check.
A pair of feet dug into a sandy beach with hashtag #dreamlife: double and triple check.
You know you want to travel, but you want to do something different. But what? Even if backpacking isn’t for you, travel can open up so many opportunities, so it’s time to get out there and start living your #dreamlife. Outside of learning about yourself and meeting some amazing people, many companies are going global and being able to assimilate to new cultures is impressive to employers. It’s a win-win-win situation! There are so many choices in travel now though, it can be overwhelming to decide where to put your hard earned cash where you’ll get the most return. Not every travel experience is created equal, so let’s find what fits best for you.
1. Doing a Working Holiday
Perfect for: recent graduates who have stress dreams about long term commitments; anyone 18-35 who is stuck in a rut and needs to shake things up
You are itching to get out and see the world, but pressure from every family function has you sweating when you’re asked for the 100th time, “So, what are you going to do now that you’ve graduated?” Working abroad makes everyone happy; your family knows you’ll be getting into the work force, yet you still get to travel and have time to figure out what you want out of this thing called life. No matter what kind of work you do, whether it’s flexible enough to allow you to beach hop, or whether you find something on your chosen career path, working abroad lets you experience a country the way only a local can. Instead of hopping off a bus, snapping a few pics, and being on your way, you’ll get to immerse yourself in the culture and lifestyle of another country for up to 2 years.
2. Interning in the USA
Perfect for: laser-focused students and grads in Business, Engineering, Architecture, Finance, Law, or the Arts
If your future career is your number one focus, doing an internship in the US is the program that will work best for you. America is a booming force in terms of its economic power, and being trained in your field means you stand out in the sea of other graduates. You’ll get to experience a new country without a huge culture shock, and you come home to Canada with a polished resume and newly gained skills to set off on your career path. Working in the US can be a bit more complex compared to an open working holiday permit, but don’t worry – going through a J1 sponsored organization like SWAP makes your visa application a breeze.
3. Teaching English Abroad
Perfect for education and teaching graduates or first time teachers who want to add international experience to their resumes (and have the comfort of a paid job lined up waiting for them abroad)
Teaching English is another great option if your goal is to gain experience in your field. It’s easy to get accustomed to a new culture such as life in Thailand or Vietnam when you have a teaching placement and accommodation already set up for you. Not only will you gain international experience, but you will grow and be challenged to immerse yourself in an entirely new culture. Semesters are only five months long, so you can earn money abroad without long term commitment, with the bonus of staying longer if you end up loving it (spoiler alert: you will!)
Perfect for students with limited time off on holidays or on summer break; anyone who wants to give back and get involved in some amazing causes while still seeing the sights on vacation
Working holidays, teaching, and interning sound great, but they are also long term travel options. If you’re still in school and may only have time to travel during the summer or on holidays, consider volunteering. SWAP has options for volunteering in India and South Africa (um, playing with baby lion cubs, anyone? That is literally the job description for the Lion program). You can go anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks, meaning you can spend your holidays wisely by giving back to those in need, seeing some beautiful parts of the world, and spark a lifelong passion for volunteering.
5. Learn a new Language
Perfect for students or recent grads who want to spend their summer break romancing a new language (and perhaps romance a native speaker of said language?)
If all you can say is “Hello” and “Sorry, I don’t understand” in languages outside of English and French, immersing yourself in a language course abroad is right up your alley. For students who love learning and thrive in a classroom, you may worry what you’ll do with yourself after graduating. Fear not; learning a new language is the perfect solution to continue your studying and gain a valuable skill for your resume, which opens many doors for work in international affairs, governments, and global companies. The best way to learn a new language is to jump right in and force yourself to keep up with native speakers. The best way to find the beach in a small town in Costa Rica? Ask in Spanish! Looking for the robot restaurant in Tokyo? Impress the locals by asking in Japanese. Best of all, even just by going for a few weeks you can nail down conversational skills, but the longer you stay abroad, the more fluent you become.
Whether you have two weeks, two months, or two years to travel, and whatever your future plans are now, travel is the answer to getting yourself off to the best start possible. The world is becoming smaller and more connected now more than ever before, and to keep up, go get yourself out there, and turn your #dreamlife into your #reallife. Have you discovered your perfect fit and want to get the adventure started? Check out www.swap.ca!