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Volunteering while studying abroad

Looking to combine service with learning? Planning to be in another country on a study abroad program or to attend a language school? These are all ideal opportunities to also do some international volunteering.

There are two primary options for studying and volunteering abroad:

  1. Study or learn abroad with a program that offers a service component. Study abroad and immersion language schools and programs—whether affiliated with a particular university or independently run—are increasingly offering opportunities for participants to get involved in host communities. If volunteering while studying abroad is important to you, seek out these opportunities by talking to on-campus study abroad staff and/or doing some online research to identify language schools and study abroad programs that incorporate volunteer activities for their students.
  2. Study or learn abroad, then volunteer abroad. Another option is to complete your study or language program abroad and then stay on to volunteer. This can be an especially valuable experience following a language program as it gives you a concrete opportunity to immediately put your new skills to good use. Check out our suggestions for international volunteers going solo for some tips on independently locating organizations and opportunities to volunteer. Also, be sure to check out on-campus resources for international students and talk to study abroad and language program staff (as well as others you've met during your time abroad); they may have great suggestions of places to go and organizations to connect with. And if you're staying in the community where you studied, you've already got a network in place to help you find great volunteer opportunities in town.

Finally, there is a hybrid option—independently volunteering while engaged in a study abroad program. To learn more about finding volunteer opportunities once you're already abroad, click here.

For more information on volunteering while studying abroad, you might also want to read some of the volunteering while studying abroad articles on TransitionsAbroad.com.

How else can I decide if a study and volunteer abroad program is right for me?

See our suggested list of questions!