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How Volunteering Abroad Changes Your Life

When you’re planning the adventure of a lifetime the way it changes your life is often the last thing on your mind. It’s the thought of travelling somewhere new, basking in the sunshine, and soaking up a new culture that gets many of us caught up in a whirl of excitement.

But when you take a gap year (or break) abroad, and in particular volunteering, it can change your life in more ways than you may initially expect. Not only will you be left with memories that last forever, but with everything from a broadened sense of view and career prospects changed by volunteering abroad you can’t put a value on how it changes your life.

We’ve found out from the experts at Global Medical Projects how volunteering impacts you life.

Language and Communication Skills
Us Brits are rather shamefully lazy when it comes to learning another language, but when you volunteer it’s imperative that you have a grasp of the native tongue or communicating is likely to be a problem – especially in remote areas.

Before you go you may want to start learning key phrases, but putting it into practice when you’re there is one of the best ways to learn and become fluent. As languages vary from country to country, so do the phrases and gestures which are acceptable so keep in mind that what’s okay in one country may be frowned upon in another.
The world we live in is so diverse and many aspects of life often require us to know more than one language. It could be required for a job or used in everyday life and it’s a great skill to have in your back pocket when you need it.

Career Prospects
Many of us choose to volunteer or take time out abroad purely for the travel experience it can bring to our lives, but it can also help to improve your career prospects too – something which many of us may not have initially considered when we first embark on our travels abroad.

You may be volunteering purely because you want to help those less fortunate in another country or it may be to further your studies as part of a university course, your reasons don’t matter as it’s what you get out of it that will count to employers.

Working abroad is a completely different experience to that of your home country and volunteering in a country where the language, culture and environment is completely new can help to show an employer you’re adaptable and unafraid of a big task or new challenge.

Cultural Experiences
The most incredible part of travel is the diversity and cultural experiences it opens our eyes up to. Immersing ourselves in a different way of life is truly one of the best things in the world and can often have a profound effect on the rest of our lives.

When we go on holiday we often aren’t as exposed to the local way of life as much as we may think, especially if you’re in an all-inclusive hotel the need and desire to explore is often reduced. The best way to truly become accustomed with a new country is to live your life as if you were a local – and that involves the daily routines of working, socialising and day to day duties that just don’t arise when you’re simply on holiday.
We are fortunate here in the UK to live an extremely privileged lifestyle and it’s all too easy to become wrapped up in everyday frustrations that are extremely insignificant when compared to the suffering that goes on in the world around us. Taking time to help those who need it most and experience a completely different way of life can leave you with an experience that can change how you view life back home in an instant.

Working in a team is something that is usually instilled in us from a small age at school, be it through a team sport or academic group project, but as we grow up the practice of team work often becomes less a part of our lives. However, the ‘everyman for themselves’ attitude is not only unappealing, but doesn’t hold up very well in modern life. Keeping up the team spirit is imperative as you become older.
When you’re presented with the unknown the best way to overcome the initial fear and nerves is to work as a team, and volunteering requires you to work as one to get the job done. There should only ever be team victories, and volunteering abroad can help you to work on the teamwork skills you’ll need in later life.
Volunteering is an incredible way to show your charitable spirit and to work with others you’ve never met before, two things which many admire and find valuable. Teamwork is a hard skill to master, and throw into the mix a new culture, language and environment and it becomes an even harder task. However, once you’ve conquered this challenge teamwork will become a skill you’ve mastered for life.

Volunteering is all about giving back to another community, but as these lessons prove it also rewards you too