Life After Study Abroad: Eight Ways to Put your Passport Back to Work
Brie, SAI Rome
January 24, 2018

We caught up with SAI Rome Program Coordinator Brie, who is contributing to our blog this month.  Here, Brie includes some wonderful tips on how to make use of those unused passport pages post-study abroad. 

You’ve just arrived back home from an amazing semester studying abroad; you’ve caught up with friends and family, eaten your weight in Mexican food and IN-N-OUT, and are starting to think about finally unpacking that suitcase that you have been putting off unpacking for a couple weeks. But then it hits. It hits at a random moment, it always does. It may hit you while you are standing in front of the dairy section of your local grocery store. For some it could be walking back onto campus for the first time. For others it hits the moment you happen to unearth a crumpled up receipt in a fold of your wallet from a night out in Barcelona. No matter when or where it hits you, reverse culture shock is real and can hit hard.

Reverse culture shock is a term used to describe the feelings of surprise, disorientation, and confusion experienced when people return to their home country. It is often accompanied by a longing for the country you left behind and a nagging pull to live abroad again. So what is the cure for this ailment that has been afflicting more and more of our country’s youth?  More international experience, of course!

Here are our eight tips for putting your passport back to work after studying abroad!

Image courtesy of Pixabay

  1. Apply for a State Department student internship

For international affairs aficionados, think of applying to either a semester or summer internship with the State Department, giving you a sneak peak at life in the Foreign Service and hands on experience working in a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Though it is a very selective program and the internships are unpaid, it will give a considerable boost to your resume. Find more information here:

Image courtesy of Pixabay

  1. Short (or long) term country breaks with Workaway, HelpX, or Wwoofing

Ever wondered what it would be like to spend a summer harvesting olives on a Greek island, working at a beach hostel in Colombia, or teaching English in a Berber community in Morocco? These websites connect you with volunteer projects across the globe, the deal being a few hours of work a day in exchange for room and board. That means no expense to you except your plane ticket and you will walk away with great memories and maybe even a new skill!

  1. Working holiday visa in Australia or New Zealand

Both Australia and New Zealand offer U.S. citizens between the age of 18 and 30 a one time working holiday visa, enabling you to work and travel for up to one year. Although the visa application can be quite costly (Australia $440, New Zealand $280), work is fairly easy to come by in Australia and the minimum wage is nearly $20 an hour so you will be sure to make up that cost quickly.

  1. North American Language and Culture Assistantships in Spain or France

Put your English to use by teaching at public schools throughout Spain or France. Applying to teach through either of these programs is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to legally work in Europe for an extended period of time. As these are programs funded by the Spanish and French governments respectively, they will land you a coveted visa unlike many other gigs teaching English in Europe. Although you will not be making millions (stipends are about €1,000/month), this is an excellent way to spend a year or two!

  1. Peace Corps

When it comes to volunteer and cross-cultural exchange programs, the Peace Corps is the gold standard. Since its founding in 1961, it has sent over 220,000 volunteers to 141 countries in a program billed as “the toughest job you will ever love”. The Peace Corps is without a doubt a big commitment- 27 months to be exact- but the personal growth, adventures, and lifelong friends you come out of it with are unparalleled.

  1. Critical Language Scholarship

For a shorter stint abroad while still in school, consider this intensive language and cultural immersion program through the US State Department. CLS is a fully funded summer program aiming to expand the number of Americans studying foreign languages that are deemed critical to national security and economic prosperity such as Chinese, Turkish, and Indonesian.

  1. Fulbright

The Fulbright Program offers competitive, fully-funded, merit-based scholarships to study, conduct research, or teach English in over 160 countries. Interested in textile design in Chile? Enthusiastic about grassroots environmental initiatives sprouting up in Thailand? Want to teach English in a village in Southern Italy?  Write a compelling enough pitch for your research or teaching ideas and one of these prestigious scholarships could be yours!

Image courtesy of Pixabay

  1. Get your TEFL/TESOL certificate and teach overseas

When in doubt, fall back on your native fluency in English to get your bags packed and exploring again! Native English speakers, particularly those accredited with a TEFL/TESOL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language/Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate are in hot demand throughout the world and is one of the easiest ways to make a buck (…or peso, euro, baht, or rupiah). Check out the JET Program in Japan or EPIK in Korea or arrange your own experience.,

Know Someone Who Would Be Interested?


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