volunteers posing together

If you are wondering whether or not you should volunteer abroad, this article will introduce some factors for you to consider as you make your decision. It's important to understand that volunteering abroad is a commitment to spend your time and energy helping people in need. While you will be living in another country and will have the opportunity to travel, it shouldn't be thought of as just a vacation. Your main focus should be on having as much of a positive impact on your surroundings as you can.

Making the decision to volunteer abroad is becoming increasingly popular, so it's not surprising that you are also considering this option. Perhaps you have a friend that has volunteered abroad and has told you countless stories about the people he/she has met and the gratifying work he/she has done. The truth is, there are hundreds of different volunteer organizations with hundreds of different projects to choose from. Some people have amazing experiences, while others realize it wasn't the best choice. The majority of people who volunteer abroad, however, have life changing experiences, and there are thousands of online reviews you can read to prove that.

It's important to do as much research as you can before you make your decision, but before you do that, consider the points below to help you determine if volunteering abroad is the right choice for you.

Are you open minded?

Choosing to volunteer abroad means choosing to plant yourself in a world that is totally different from the one you are used to. You’ll be exposed to different lifestyles, different laws, and different mentalities. You won’t always agree with what you hear or see. It’s important that judgment is not your initial reaction. If you respond to differences with understanding and empathy, then you are probably open minded enough to volunteer abroad.

Are you flexible?

Living in a foreign country means putting yourself in unfamiliar situations on a daily basis. Things won’t always go your way, and you’ll face many barriers. You may have difficulty communicating if you don’t know the local language, or you might have trouble finding your way in a new city. The key is to remain flexible and calm, no matter what kind of situation you’re thrown into.

Do you want to grow as a person?

Most likely, who you were before volunteering abroad is not going to be the same person as who you are after volunteering. Most people return to their home countries claiming that they have grown as a person. They are filled with new experiences and life lessons that make them a more well-rounded person. They have met people who have expanded their worldview and made them rethink their own ideas. If you are interested in growing as a person, volunteering abroad may be the right choice for you.

Do you want to help others?

Volunteering abroad is all about being selfless and committing to helping those in need. If you have a desire to use your skills and talents for bettering a community or environment, it’s a great opportunity to do so. Helping others makes you feel fulfilled and you can oftentimes see the positive change happening in front of your eyes.

Do you want to improve your skills?

Whether you are volunteering in a field where you already have some experience, or working in a totally new area, volunteering abroad will help you improve your existing skills and equip you with new ones. The skills you gain will be valuable in all other areas of life, so take advantage of every opportunity to learn something new.

Do you want to meet new people?

During your time abroad, you will be meeting new people every day. They could be other volunteers, locals, or fellow travelers. You should be open to meeting as many people as possible while abroad, because each of them will teach you something. Volunteering is not just for extraverted people – many introverts find volunteering abroad just as worthwhile. The key is finding a balance that is right for you and your personality. It’s ok to be shy – just don’t let it stop you from meeting wonderful people while abroad.

Are you passionate about a specific field?

If you are passionate about teaching, volunteering to teach English at a Buddhist Monastery may be a great choice for volunteering abroad. Whatever you are passionate about, there is a good chance there is an appropriate volunteer project for you. Volunteering abroad is a great opportunity to explore a field you are passionate about, or a field that you’ve always wanted to find out more about. Being in a new environment can also serve as great inspiration for fostering your passions.