Volunteering during your year abroad can be a great way to combine practicing your language skills whilst contributing to fantastic teaching or conservation projects all over the world. There are so many different opportunities out there that, on first inspection, planning this kind of year abroad can seem like quite a daunting task, so we've put together some case studies and organisations to show you how easy it is to work for a good cause on your year abroad.
Hilary volunteered with APARE, a European youth organisation based in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in the heart of the Mediterranean, in her summer holidays. Here she explains what's involved and the benefits of volunteering in the south of France on your year abroad.
Poppy Bending Beckett warns about a few cultural differences you'll encounter if you're off to Nepal...
1. Transport and the driving code
Cows standing in the middle of incredibly busy streets are normal. In theory, cars drive on the right hand side of the road – however in practice, it’s essentially a free for all. Also, as a pedestrian in Nepal – you are essentially a target. Don’t expect a driver to stop if you get in their way – you’re lucky if they even slow down! In Nepal – cars don’t have reverse lights – but reverse music... Each vehicle has its own individual tune. The novelty takes a long time to wear off! Buses: just because there isn’t a bus stop – this doesn’t mean the bus won’t stop. Give the driver a wave, and you’ll soon be on board. Don’t be shocked to have a duck sitting next to you, or some other flying animal of sorts.
Hannah Cameron, 21, studied Pharmacology at Leeds University and decided to set up Volunteer Experience Africa after doing volunteer work in Ghana and Kenya. She says, "it was a wonderful experience for me and I wanted to give other people the chance to sample the same. I first volunteered in Ghana when I was in sixth form, where I spent time in a local hospital gaining invaluable work experience (as I was applying to study medicine at university). While I was there I made friends with many of the locals and hospital staff and have returned on two subsequent occasions."