With the advent of social networking and the rise of online-based businesses, the opportunities for people to find careers around the world has greatly increased. Foreign language classes are commonly available for children as young as elementary school age, and it’s not out of the ordinary for high-schoolers to want to spend up to a year as a study abroad student. The choices that face young people today are astoundingly diverse and exciting.
Transitions Abroad is both a print magazine, as well as an online portal that provides in-depth information on issues related to studying, living, and working abroad. In their surveys of American foreign exchange students, the following traits have been reported in significant percentages:
- Increased self-confidence
- Increased maturity
- Lasting impact on world view
- Enhanced interest in academic study
- Influenced subsequent educational experiences
- Reinforced commitment to foreign language study
- Helped foster a better understand cultural values and biases
- Influenced a desire to seek out a greater diversity of friends
- Continues to influence interactions with people from different cultures
- Acquired skill sets that influenced career path
- Ignited an interest in a career direction pursued after the experience
With these kind of life-changing properties, it is no wonder that so many young people want to spend time studying in a foreign country. However, such an experience can be very costly, and financial aid can be difficult to find. This presents a problem for many would-be adventurers.
Is It Really In You?
Before venturing down this path too far, however, the student needs to be sure he or she is ready to totally commit to this process. A two to three week program overseas can cost up to $6,000 itself, so the student needs to realize this is serious business. It is going to take hard work and great sacrifice to make this opportunity possible.
It is also important for a student to decide what kind of program will best serve his or her interests. While study programs have great value, perhaps a volunteer work program is a better fit. Or, maybe a church-oriented mission program would be appealing. Not everything has to be academically based. In fact, if you pick a non-academic type of program, you might find alternate means of funding. So, please do thorough research not only on where you want to go, but also what you want to accomplish. It could help you focus your efforts.
Step 1- Personal Commitment or “Digging in your Own Pockets”
I think that there are some preliminary steps that should be accomplished early in this process that will reveal just how serious the student is about making sacrifices for this adventure. If any of these suggestions turn the student off, I would question the decision to move forward.
Control Spending Habits
The first thing a student must do is look at his or her own spending habits. If a weekly movie, music downloads, clothes shopping, and other incidentals are a higher priority than the study abroad trip, saving thousands of dollars is going to be difficult. Therefore, the student will have to create a strict budget and slash those expenditures that will keep him or her from reaching the goal.
Sell Your Stuff
Secondly, it would be wise for a student to assess what items he or she could sell to earn money for the experience. eBay and other online auction houses are a great way to unload un-used or unnecessary items and earn pretty good cash for them.
A garage sale, held at the right time of year, can also be lucrative. You might even get your parents to “donate” all the proceeds to your study abroad fund. Perhaps friends and relatives would also be willing to give you their belongings to sell and keep the money.
Trade Your Stuff Up
Next, I know this may sound like an unusual suggestion, but in this age of email and cell phones, it might actually prove very profitable. I think the student should embark on a “Red Paperclip” project. I wrote a blog post about this on Top School Fundraisers. In essence, the student would choose an inexpensive item of his or her own and attempt to trade it to friends, families, co-workers, fellow students, or anyone willing to trade something of slightly higher value for it. Once the first trade is made, the student will immediately try to trade the second item for something of yet a higher value still. And so on. Eventually, once the student has traded for a significantly valuable item, he or she can sell it for cash and put that toward the trip.
I lead a class of adults once that undertook this experiment, and one woman ended up making a trade for an old car that had the original chrome on it. She took the chrome off, polished it, and sold it on eBay for $1,300! All this money-making opportunity takes is a cheap item to start with and the courage to ask people to trade. Who knows how far you could take this?
Blog Your Way to RichesAnother way to generate some revenue is to learn how to blog for money. There are a number of websites that will instruct you how to “monetize” your blog. You may not get rich from doing this, but incomes of $50 to $60 per month are pretty easy to set up and don’t require a lot of hard work. Just a little creativity and attention should get the job done. I would suggest looking at the websites called Problogger or Shoemoney for ideas.
Get a J-O-B
Ok, this is a boring one: find a job. Committing to a part-time job, if you haven’t done this before, can be a major step. It can intrude upon your studies and your personal life. But, if you want this overseas experience badly enough, you might be willing to work a few hours per week. If you make $7 per hour and work 15 hours per week for 36 weeks (an average school year) you could earn $3,780.
In the summer, you could even earn more. If you plan far enough ahead, you could really take a chunk out of the total bill this way. You won’t be doing anything glamorous for $7 per hour, but remember your goal. Of course, you can’t spend any of this income. Put it right in the ol’ savings account.