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What comes after studying abroad?

For many travel enthusiasts, college years are focused on plans to study abroad. After all, you’re constantly told that you’ll never have an opportunity like it again! So what happens when you fulfill that dream then come back from it, only to find that what you only want is to do it again?

Many people will tell you that your best option is to finish college and then work your butt off at a well-paying job and use your vacation days to take trips that are a week or two long. Sure, this is an option, but for many people – especially those who love independent, long term and/or frequent travel – this feels extremely limiting and frustrating. There has to be a better way – in fact, there are many! 

In September, Babette Travel, a local Madison travel company dedicated to helping place people in international internships, hosted an event featuring speakers who shared their experiences of living and working abroad. Each speaker had a unique experience and perspective, from casual homestays to working a full 9-5 job. This opened up discussion on a big topic: What really comes after you study abroad? What are your options? How can you make it happen? 

The first option is to utilize your college’s study abroad program, like UW’s International Academic Program, as much as you can. If you want, you can pack as much travel as possible into your time at college. Semester- or year-long programs are not your only option: There are occasional Spring Break modules as well as more frequent Winter Intersession and Summer programs offered for those who can’t make semesters abroad work (also known as most people).

Another option is an internship, whether for the summer, in conjunction with (another) study abroad or after graduation. This is a great option if you want to go abroad again but don’t want to commit to living across the pond for more than a few months or a year. Many companies offer help in finding and placing students and travelers in these positions. Babette Travel provides placement services for internships, guides students in creating their own internships and simply helps set up travel plans, housing, employment and visas. While many companies offer inclusive packages (which can get pricy), Babette aids you through your individual plans to make interning and working abroad more affordable. With services like these, you really just have to start looking and you’re sure to find lots of opportunities.

Abroad internships are great starting options to turn into a full-time job. If you’re searching for work straight away, there are companies that specialize in placing people in international work. This is quite similar to study abroad with more independence, and therefore typically caters to people who want to work as well as explore. This can be done through post graduation work programs that essentially allow travelers to live and work on their own, but provide assistance with networking, finding jobs, housing and generally getting established. These programs usually last a year at maximum.

Location-independent or remote work is an option gaining popularity in recent years thanks to the boom in online small businesses and blogging. It’s also possible to do freelance work such as writing, graphic design, blogging and accounting for organizations. Websites like Upwork make finding clients and getting paid easy and secure. This option sounds ideal, but bear in mind that you will have to set aside time to work while traveling and if you freelance, you’ll have to hustle hard for a while before establishing a few clients that assign regular work and pay well.

Whichever option you choose, know that the world of long-term travel isn’t closed to you just because study abroad is over. The adventure is just beginning!

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