Open Your Heart and Mind – Volunteer Abroad
Perhaps you’re on a gap year or you’re simply looking for an experience that’ll allow you to see the most wonderful places in the world. Volunteering abroad will no doubt enrich your life, help you become more independent, and give you a feeling of satisfaction while feeding into your yearning of wanderlust and excitement. Naturally, you may feel apprehensive about it, but it’s that vulnerable state that truly makes you feel alive.
While it’s normal for your hometown to make you feel safe, comfortable and happy – after all, family and friends are what makes up feel loved, needed, and appreciative, you’re only allowed a short amount of time on this Earth, why not see any and everything that you possibly can? It’s living outside of your comfort zone, meeting people of different ages, cultures, and countries that’ll give you something that no one can ever take away from you – empathy, understanding, and knowledge that you can’t get from a textbook. The experiences you’ll have and the open-mindedness you’ll acquire is immeasurable. And here’s why…
1. It Will Teach You About Commitment
Of course, there are several other things you could be doing abroad, but when you volunteer – you’re not only giving yourself the opportunity to be selfless, caring, and helpful to those in need, you’re giving yourself the ability to understand, empathise and love something and someone in a way in which you’ve never felt before. It’ll give you the ability to commit to something bigger, and it’ll truly show you what you are made of.
Yes, the journey may be difficult at times – you’ll miss home, you’ll miss certain technologies, food, and maybe the country you’re visiting doesn’t have your favorite face cream or brand of clothing. But what is that in the grander scheme of things when you’ll gain so much more?
2. You Will See The Most Wonderful Places On Earth
By volunteering abroad, you’ll be able to see the most wonderful places on Earth. You’ll try food that you probably can’t even pronounce – and you’ll probably love it. You’ll learn a new language from locals who can’t wait to talk with you, you’ll learn about what it’s like to live in a community – to share, to participate in teamwork, and to contribute towards an extremely worthy cause. You’ll not only gain life experience, but also awesome stuff to fill your resume with.
You’ll have the opportunity to take copious amounts of travel photos, which in turn will give you lifelong memories as well as all the jealousy of your friends and followers on social media. But most importantly, you’ll be improving the quality of life for someone or people who truly deserve it. Whether it’s something as simple as making them smile, or helping gain clean, running water – you’re courageously putting yourself in the position where you’re the reason someone can be happy today.
3. You Will Make Unforgettable Memories And Meet Unforgettable People
Additionally, your time abroad may come to an end after several weeks or months, but the effects thereof will last you forever. You will never forget about the people you met, the things you did, the knowledge you learned, and the experiences you tried. It’ll allow you to be introspective, it will give you confidence going forward with your life because you know that you’re capable of making it on your own, in countries that people dream of visiting – whether it’s one of the most wonderful places on Earth or a country that makes you nervous.
4. Helping Others Strengthens Your Immune System
So why else should you volunteer abroad? Besides the fact that you’re doing a world of difference to people that truly need it, there are other benefits that are more geared towards you. Did you know that by helping others, you are effectively reducing stress? Studies have suggested that by focusing on someone other than yourself, you’re helping break the stress-related patterns that exist in your life. It also makes you healthier, as feeling less stress and more joy strengthens your system.
5. You’re Helping A Developing Country’s Local Development
And how are you helping others? Volunteering helps by cutting down local costs within a country. While you embark on a journey that could essentially cost you nothing, the affected countries are saving money for other resources simply because you are willing to help. How will you be repaid? In smiles, in words of wisdom and appreciation, in sustainable development for those in need, by knowing that you’ve made a difference, and by becoming a stronger and more worldly person.
6. You’ll Gain Irreplaceable Life Experience
When planning your volunteering initiative, it’s important to keep several things in mind: research the company you’re planning to go with! Make sure that they are legitimate and that they have needs, goals, and values that are congruent to yours. If you’re worried about costs, there are initiatives that are free to participate in. Yes, you may break even by not earning money, but it’s impossible to put a price on life experience.
7. You’ll Use (And Gain) Your Skills And Strengths
You should also be considering your own strengths and skills. What can you offer to the initiative that would be useful? Additionally, what do you hope to gain out of the experience? It’s important to keep in mind that, while you’ll be seeing some of the most wonderful places in the world, you’ll also have to be ready to commit, work hard, and be flexible with your time and effort.
8. You’ll Become Empathetic And Knowledgeable About New Cultures
Once you’ve spent time volunteering abroad, you won’t be the same person. You will be appreciative of a comfortable bed, clean running water, fast speed internet, and family and friends, but you’ll also be appreciative of other cultures, different languages, and types of people that you never even knew existed.
At the end of the day, it’s all about being open, positive, and forthcoming when it comes to volunteering abroad.
9. You Might Just Find Your Purpose
Stick around for the long terms projects, make sure to show interest in what you’re doing, check back in with how things are going once you’ve returned home. You never know, you may find your true passion in life, which could ultimately lead to an unexpected employment opportunity.
At the end of the day, the only requirement you need in order to make a success of your time abroad is to have a can-do attitude, a positive outlook, and an open mind.The rest of this incredible experience will surely come to you.
Evans Lily is the founder of SkyWeFly, where I and my associates blog about photographs, stories and travel tips that will help you make a great journey. I hope to bring my passion to more people via SkyWeFly.