“If Donald Trump gets elected, I’m leaving the country”. This is a sentiment that spread across America throughout the tumultuous, mind-boggling, and utterly nasty campaign over the course of the last year. Well, shit: that just happened. Most professed their intentions to flee to Canada, who will undoubtedly be receiving an unusually high spike in work visa applications in the coming months. While this is one route to go, there are plenty of other options for those who are serious in their claims to go abroad.
Before I go on, I want to make something clear: while my political and social views are fairly obvious, this is not a political post and it is 100% not a forum for arguments between parties or hate-filled nonsense of any kind. I have been encouraging people to travel in order to leave their bubbles, expand their minds, and gain true insight and understanding of the world around them since I started this site four years ago.
I will say this: I am terrified for the environment, heartbroken for my friends and various groups that will be very negatively effected by this result, and angry with the fact that this election has reaffirmed, in many people’s eyes, that Americans are loud, greedy, arrogant, irresponsible bullies. If you feel this way, too, and want an escape from it all to show the people of the world that this is not who YOU are, you’ve got quite a few options to kickstart your life abroad. You have the chance to be an ambassador for the United States and show the people of the world the best of your country.
My first trip to Europe was for a volunteer gig in Poland. I met someone, quit my job, and spent the next four years traveling. Needless to say, volunteerships can turn into fairy tales. Ok, maybe that was just a one-off occurrence, but volunteering is a great way to experience a new country. Make sure you do your research, though, as many companies are now charging exorbitant fees for volunteers. Put the time in and you can find cheaper (or better yet, free!) opportunities to make a difference abroad.
As long as you can accurately assess your priorities, going on a backpacking trip is easy. (Note: it’s not as easy when you kids or pets). Save up some money, sell the possessions you don’t need, and plan for a trip on a budget. What you’d spend in a month while living at home could last several on the road, as long as you play your cards right. Eat cheap, stay in hostels or freecamp, go off the beaten path. You’ll learn more about yourself and the world than you could ever dream of.
3) Teach English Abroad
Got a college degree and a passport from an English-speaking country? You’re basically all set. I have pages on teaching English abroad that contain country-specific info, so head there to learn more. Teaching abroad was one of the best things I ever did, and I can’t recommend the experience enough.
4) Get A Working Holiday Visa
Australia and New Zealand give foreigners the opportunity to live, work, and travel in the country for a year (two years for non-Americans/Commonwealth countries). All you have to do is apply, pay the fee (roughly $400), and hop on a plane. You must apply before the age of 30 and use it before you turn 31, meaning this option is unfortunately not available to everyone. However, I loved my year of casual work and travel in Australia and my time in New Zealand. The money is great, there’s so much to do, and both countries are full of other young people doing the same things as you. I made some great friends and unforgettable memories, all while making more than enough to travel comfortably and save.
5) Join the Peace Corps
The Peace Corps is the most famous of American volunteer programs. Started under President Kennedy, the programs sends volunteers to places in need, primarily for two-year contracts. Peace Corps volunteers work in education, health, community development, youth, environment and agriculture, and many other types of fields. This program is not for everyone, though. Although you can list preferences, you don’t get to choose where you go: you’re sent where your skills are most needed. This can be particularly challenging if you have dietary restrictions or if you are with a partner, as it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be placed together. There is also a certain degree of safety risks that you need to understand before going. Joining the Peace Corps is truly a commitment, and as such, you should research it properly before applying. That being said, everyone that I know who has served in the Peace Corps remembers it fondly and felt that it was a great way to represent their country and build a better planet.
6) Study Abroad
This isn’t the easiest option for everyone – admittedly, I wasn’t able to do it when I was in university. However, it’s definitely something to consider. If you’re a student already, look into your school’s study abroad options. For those of you who never went to school or are interested in getting a second degree, the world is your oyster. There are plenty of opportunities for studying at a fraction of the price that it costs in the U.S.. In fact, some countries offer free education, even to foreigners: France, Norway, Germany, Finland, Slovenia, and Sweden. You’ll have to look into specific programs and visa eligibility requirements on a country-to-country basis, but studying is a great way to spend time experiencing another country.
Obviously this isn’t really an option for folks working in small, local businesses. However, there are plenty of large companies with offices around the globe. The company will pay for and sort out the necessary visa requirements and airfare (usually), so all you’ll have to do is get packing. Search online or speak to your HR rep if this interests you.
8) Become an Au Pair
Speaking English is an incredibly powerful tool that is highly sought after by parents around the world. Join an au pair site and you’ll find thousands of families in Europe and Asia that are looking for a live in au pair. Contracts can range from six months to several years, so make sure to really look into the family’s profile before making a commitment. You definitely want to be sure that you’re compatible with the people whose home you’ll be entering, so be honest about yourself and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
9) Get a German Artist Visa
The artist visa exists in a few countries, but Germany has, I think, the best one. It’s the easiest to acquire and most manageable to have, especially for Americans, who always face challenges trying to stay in the EU on a long-term basis. “Artist” really means freelancer in this sense, and as long as you can prove that you have enough contracts to keep money coming in, you’re good. You do need to purchase (and verify that you’ve purchased) health insurance in Germany, as well, but this is a small price to pay for living in such a great country. Berlin, Hamburg, and Leipzig are only a few of the funky, artsy, expat-friendly cities to choose from.
10) Work Remotely
If your job is one that can be conducted online, see if your company will allow you to work remotely. If that isn’t an option, search for remote jobs and make a change. Teach online, work in the digital marketing/tech field, write/edit… there are endless opportunities. By working remotely, you can do whatever you want from wherever you want.