Every country can bring you new and diverse volunteering experiences into your life. Sometimes deciding and planning on where to go and what to do can seem overwhelming, but with a little help, the entire planning process can go down smoothly. Here we have 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Volunteering Abroad.
Here are three considerations to make during your pre-planning process for volunteering abroad:
Language in countries and programs differ worldwide. Many of our volunteers heading to Ecuador are going with the intention of having a full on Spanish-immersion experience. While fluency in Spanish in Ecuador isn't vital, a basic grasp on the language will prove very beneficial. While many Western travelers find Spanish easy to learn, Thai might prove more challenging. This shouldn't deter volunteers from going to Thailand, where its easier to get by on not knowing the language. English teachers will find it beneficial to earn a TEFL certificate, which gives you the knowledge and experience of how to teach English with a communication barrier. Many volunteers choose to combine their volunteering experience with a language immersion course. This is specifically a great budget-friendly option in Nepal, where a two-week language immersion and sight-seeing program gives them a great opportunity understand more about Nepal, its people, culture, and pace of life prior to the volunteer's work placement.
2. Regional Differences
Think about the U.S. and how many different regions we have here. Now think about a single state, like California, and how vastly the landscape changes. These regional differences apply to most countries. While the south of Thailand is filled with tropical beaches, the north of Thailand boasts mountains and jungles. The north of Nepal has the Himalayas, but the southern region in sub-tropical, flat, and filled with rhinos, jungles, and rice paddies. Ecuador boasts four unique regions: the Amazon jungle, the Andes mountains (Sierra region), the Pacific coast, and the Galapagos. Each region has a unique weather climate, as well as a unique local population with cultural traditions and diet unique to their regions.
3. Urban versus Rural
Rural life tends to be slower paced with a lower crime rate and cultural traditions remain intact. Urban life night might be faster-paced, have a better nightlife, music and culture scene, and a better transportation system. While rural placements can be cheaper than urban placement, finding western amenities may not be. Access to hospitals, pharmacies, internet, phone service, and ATM's will differ in rural areas. Volunteers might find they need to prepare themselves a bit more for volunteering in a rural environment versus an urban one. Whether you're looking for the hustle-and-bustle of the city or the calm and rustic environment of a small village, consider what pace of live and access to amenities you are able to live and work in during your volunteer placement.