Congrats! You've just decided to join the club of adventurers/thrill-seekers/travelers (also known as unemployed college grads) who are crazy-or stupid-enough to hold off on a job and spend the little money they have exploring foreign places. How financially irresponsible and potentially dangerous! All jokes aside, this is BY FAR the best way to start off adulting. You've spent the past 20+ years following a very set path: school-college-graduation-job-etc.; which is all fine and dandy, but what if it's not for you?
For us, study abroad was life changing...like it actually changed our life plans. Caroline ended up switching majors, and I knew the moment I got back from Spain that I couldn't start my career without going back. From the end of our junior year until graduation, we plotted and planned our great European return. And now here we are. While our friends are drowning in hours of law homework, we're touring the walls of Dubrovnik. While they're venting about tough med school assignments, we're downing Prosecco in Italy. Most people tell us, "Wow, I'm so jealous. Hopefully I can travel too." YOU CAN! This is absolutely the best time to take a gap year/semester because there's this wonderful window where nothing is tying you down. But don't let social media fool you, it took a lot of research, planning, and summer slaving to make it all happen, but was 1000% worth it.
Still interested? Check out below to see how we made it back across the pond:
1. Go for it
Since this is the path less traveled for most college grads, you'll be hit with a lot of questions like: How will you afford it? Aren't you scared to go off on your own? Is it smart to put your career on hold? While you might not have the answers to these questions, be confident in your choice. If you feel excited to explore the world, then go for it! It's natural that you might second guess yourself when people seem against you-but they're just curious (because you're about to go off and do something cooler than sit in a stuffy office). Honestly, taking time off to volunteer, teach or do research in a foreign place will only boost your resume. Plus you'll be more ready than ever to buckle down in the job world once you've taken time for yourself.
2. Know what you want
Making a pro/con list like Rory Gilmore is the best way to start your program search. What's great (and also overwhelming) is the variety of options you have. Here are some questions to think on:
Teaching & host family fun
Caroline and I were pretty dead set on what we wanted, which made our program hunt a little easier. Here's roughly what our list looked like:
3. Do your research
Now it's time to pick your program. Thanks to the internet, we have access to sooo many programs that it's easy to get overwhelmed. Plus it's hard to know if that "perfect program" you found searching the web is legit. Here's a few tips that helped us settle on CIEE:
4. Save that money
Even if you pick a program that pays you through the government, you'll be blowing a lot of cash on traveling, souvenirs, and enjoying your new city! While budgeting is extremely important, don't let it make you miss out on awesome experiences. Once you know the logistics of your program, create a mock budget to see what amount you need (and add on a little more because flight prices SUCK). Then slave away doing horrible jobs for three months until your program starts (yay!). You wont even remember the blood, sweat and tears when you're sipping wine at the top of Mt. Vesuvius.
Hopefully this helps you on your start to an amazing post-grad journey! Feel free to reach out to us if you have any other questions :)
Here are some other program options if teaching isn't your thing:
-Fulbright research -Au Pair -Peace Corps
Good luck, safe travels and remember to sip some sangria while you're at it.