Becoming an expat volunteer is more than just living overseas

Becoming an expat volunteer is more than just living overseas

Becoming an expat volunteer is more than just living overseas

Choosing to volunteer as an expat rather than taking a formal job in another country is becoming more popular with millennials wanting to experience many different cultures before settling for one as a career base.

There are many good reasons for taking time out to volunteer overseas, ranging from the need to do something worthwhile through the chance to learn new skills, experience a new community, enhance your CV, learn another language hands on or simply get to know the world as it is. There are now endless opportunities for volunteering to suit varied interests and budgets, with commitments varying from short to long term and providers in all sectors from international voluntary organisations to small groups in specific locations.

The first step is to decide where you’d like to go and which type of project you’d be happiest in. Many organisations offer programmes designed for specific groups of volunteers including expats in general, professionals such as medical and veterinary staff, retirees, students and even families wanting to volunteer as a group. You’ll need to decide which sector to go for, either based on your interests and experience or on your wish to find something new.

Favourites include working with animals, ecological and environmental projects and teaching in rural areas where formal schools are few. You’ll have a choice between contributing financially, finding a free programme or even a tax-deductible programme, will all options open for consideration. Making the choice involves matching your passions, deciding which will improve you as an individual and which has the time frame you’d prefer. Some expat volunteers only have a few weeks or months to spare; others are able to give several years.

Programme requirements range from relevant qualifications through practical experience, special skills and languages, or even just a wish to be useful and get involved. Checking as to whether specific volunteer visas are required, as well as costs is necessary, as many countries don’t just allow volunteers to arrive on a tourist visa and get on with it. Bureaucracy is boring, but so is being forced to leave because you don’t have the right paperwork or even a work permit.

Volunteering can become addictive, with some expats moving from country to country as and when they’re needed. One of the best things about becoming a volunteer is that you get to know and help real people in real situations rather than just being a tourist flitting from country to country on a whim.

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