Alternative travel opportunities for students and graduates

Archaeology volunteers in Peru

Archaeology volunteers in Peru

WHO DOESN’T love travelling? Going on holiday is fun, but there are plenty of other ways to see the world if you’re bored of your usual package deal. From studying to working and volunteering, here are some of the most life-enriching ways of seeing the world.

Study

If you fancy experiencing education in a foreign university then, depending on your apartment, you may have  the opportunity to study for a semester abroad. This gives you the chance to not only get a taster of life at another university, but also of living and being educated in another country. All work done in your partner school is transferred into credits that go towards your degree at Aberystwyth, so don’t worry about having to do extra work! Rhodri Martin, an international politics student, told me about the semester he spent at the University of Tampere, Finland, during his second year:

“I studied six modules that I didn’t have the opportunity to study here, I met lots of interesting people, most of whom weren’t British and it was good to share the experience of being out of my comfort zone in a foreign land with others. On the whole, the experience was very maturing; it’s one thing to be away from home and at university, but It’s another thing altogether to do it in a foreign country, when English isn’t the first language of most of the people you encounter.”

The university has an Erasmus society, which was set up in order to give students the unique experience of studying abroad, whilst strengthening relationships between our partner universities and Aberystwyth. They work with students who have come from abroad to study in Wales, but also help students who want to study further afield to get placed.

Teach English

It is often said that the best way to absorb a country’s culture is by living there. If leaving the UK forever isn’t for you, then there are organisations that offer short-term teaching placements abroad. This is ideal for those who want the experience, but not the commitment. There are jobs available in all sorts of countries: Asia, Europe, South America- all over the place, really!

With English becoming more of a global language, native speakers are in hot demand for teaching. When taking this kind of job abroad, you do not need to be able to speak the local language; in fact, it is recommended that you only speak to the students in English as it helps them pick up the language faster. Of course, it’s always helpful (not to mention polite) to at least learn some of the language before you move abroad. The university has some Lifelong Learning language courses, and there are plenty of websites and books to help you along the way.

Before coming to university I toyed with the idea of teaching English abroad, but decided against it in favour of coming to Aberystwyth. Three years later a conversation with a friend who is planning to teach in China reignited my enthusiasm. It seemed like too good an experience to let pass by, and what better time to do it than when I’ve just graduated and am committed to a job back home? Taking a year out to teach abroad gives you a welcome break from education (at least, being on the receiving end) if you’re thinking of going into post-grad education, and even gives you some time to think if you’re unsure of what to do next when you’ve been released into the big, wide world.

I’m currently preparing to apply for a year-long placement in Japan, which will begin next March. I’ve dreamed of visiting the country for years, but have never had the opportunity, or money, to be able to go. What better way to afford the trip if you’re being paid to be there? Unlike my (lucky) friends who are planning to teach abroad, I’ll be taking the trip solo, and because of this I find myself alternating between giddy excitement and all-out panic. I have no idea what to expect when I arrive – I could instantly make loads of new friends, or find myself in Lost in Translation-style isolation, or somewhere in between. But I suppose that not knowing is all part of the adventure.

Of course, to take a teaching job abroad you need to be qualified. Some jobs require a degree, others don’t – but if you apply through TEFL, they’re probably going to require you to do a TEFL course. Different jobs require a different degree of course. I got in contact with someone by email (they are very helpful and quick t0 respond) who recommended that I do the 120 hour course, which is a weekend course and the rest online. I saved £100 on mine as I got it in the January sale. It covers you for most jobs, so if I catch the travel bug I can get other jobs too. Experiences differ depending on organisation, course and jobs – my friend is doing some of her training in China!

For more information visit www.tefl.org.uk

Camp America

As a Brownie and Girl Guide, going on summer camps was a big part of my childhood. I have great memories of singing songs around the camp fire, eating smores, and playing games in the woods (not to mention being freaked out by my friends’ ghost stories). Unfortunately,  I’m a bit too old to be going on these sort of camps now, but packages like Camp America allow those who are still big kids at heart relive those experiences whilst helping children have a fantastic camp experience.

In American films (except the horrors), stateside summer have always seemed very appealing. It probably rains less, you stay in log cabins, do water sports on clear lakes and have the added excitement of potentially being eaten by a bear- and you don’t have that here in the UK. Also, you’d be in America and would be able to explore the surrounding area (you are given around $700 for your 9-11 week stay, which is sure to help a little bit!)

With Camp America, you can spend up to 11 weeks working at an American summer camp. This can be as a counsellor, who runs the children’s activities, which range from sports to crafts. If you’re not too keen on children you can work behind scenes as part of housekeeping or in the kitchens. Millie Woodrow-Hill, a third year English and Creative Writing Student told me about her experiences last summer:

“I went to Camp Skimino, which is a camp for Girl Scouts in Virginia. I was a camp counsellor, which actually didn’t involve any counselling! Around 3 counsellors would be assigned a group of campers, with one unit manager, and it was our job to manage the girls’ day, taking them to activities and keeping their spirits up, singing songs and playing games. We also led some activities, which were largely organised by the unit manager, but we also had to lead our cookouts and such as well. It was mostly about being happy and letting the campers feed off that energy, ensuring their stay runs smoothly and positively.”

There are many different camps throughout the US, ranging from those that cater to girl scouts, underprivileged children and disabled campers. You are placed according to your preferences and skills, which you place in your online application – you even have the opportunity to make a promotional video to show potential employees your best side.

For more information on recruitment fairs and to order a brochure, visit campamerica.co.uk.

Charity work and volunteering

There are many wonderful opportunities to indulge your love for travel and put your time and effort into helping a worthy cause. If you head to studentadventures.co.uk you will find a wealth of once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you can be sponsored for to raise money for charity, such as trekking the Great Wall of China for Make-A-Wish Foundation, and a Leeds to Amsterdam bike ride for Dementia UK and Action Against Hunger. These experiences often require you to raise the funds for your going, but there are plenty of fun and social ways you can do this.

If you go to projects-abroad.co.uk you will find many experiences that not only help the local community, but also allow you to explore your interests and develop your skills. Experiences include vital building work in underdeveloped parts of countries such as South Africa, medicine and dentistry and archaeology in Peru (which I’m definitely thinking about doing)

So whatever you plan to do during or after the summer, I hope you have an amazing time. Now, go forward and create some brilliant memories!