You are thinking about going abroad with your friends. Everything has been planned and prepared, but there is still that voice at the back of your head that tells you not to go because it’s too dangerous. Here are out tips to make sure you are well prepared no matter where you want to go!
Don’t let the challenges dissuade you from what may be the most educational and enriching experience of your life. The most important step in the process of seeking travel experience is committing yourself to find a way. There will be obstacles – money, disorganized organizations, and communications nightmares – but it will be worth it.
STUDY YOUR MOTIVES AND EXPECTATIONS
Please don’t think you are going to save the world. Be honest with yourself about why you are going, and be realistic about what you think you might accomplish.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
The more you prepare before going, the better your experience will be. Speak to people who have worked and traveled where you want to go. Call the Peace Corps, embassies, organizations, put a note up on bulletin boards “Have you been to Sierra Leone?”. Use your creativity. Read books, novels as well as travel guides and historical and political analysis. Make a rough budget. Give yourself time to plan, make contacts, and raise enough money.
DON’T RULE OUT VOLUNTEERING
It is unlikely that you will find paid work on your first experience, unless you want to work for a big company or a questionable development organization, or you have very useful skills (i.e. teaching or medical skills). Volunteering will allow you to work for an organization that might actually need you rather than one that can pay you. Work weekends or odd jobs and/or ask friends and family to sponsor you in return for a newsletter or photo. Student loans can be deferred. Call your bank for details.
VOLUNTEER BEFORE YOU GO
You will have much more to offer an organization if you have experience volunteering at home. Try to find an organization in your community that does work similar to the type of work you want to do.
PLAN FOR YOUR RETURN
You will have an incredibly rich experience that few people in Poland are privileged to receive. Think about how you might share your experience when you get back-showing slides at your school, speaking at a local university.
STUDY THE LANGUAGE
You didn’t really think you can work effectively in another country without speaking the local language, did you? I didn’t think so. Why not begin your stay with an intensive language training course?
EXPECT TO MAKE MISTAKES
Try to minimize the obvious ones. DO NOT promise anything that you can not deliver (i.e. money, political support, marriage). DO NOT engage in illegal activities. DO NOT feed stereotypes of dressing disrespectfully and being lazy. DO NOT engage in political activity that might put other people at risk. DO acknowledge that you will mess up occasionally, and try to be committed enough not to give up when things become difficult. On the other hand, if things really aren’t working out, you should also know when it’s time to go, or modify your plans.
KEEP A JOURNAL
It’s the best way to jog your memory when reciting tales to your grandchildren. To remind yourself of the wisdom you once learned. To remind yourself of the damn fool things you once did.
GET YOUR SHOTS AND TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEALTH
Please visit your doctor or a specialist in tropical medicine before you go. Take it from one who knows. A shot of prevention is worth a hundred little brown pills from a questionable pharmacy as you seek relief from hallucinatory fevers, yellow eyes, and/or excruciating stomach cramps. In matters of health, as in other aspects, use your brain.
Leave a detailed itinerary and a copy of your passport’s identification page with a friend or relative at home. Include names, addresses and telephone numbers where you will be staying. Leave a copy of your flight and ticket information with them as well.
You may wish to establish certain check in dates when you will either call, e-mail, fax, etc. to let someone know that you are all right. But remember that if you happen to miss a check-in, your loved ones may assume that you are having a problem or are in trouble.
MOST OF ALL REMEMBER TO ENJOY YOUR TRIP!
Improve your vocabulary!
challenge – wyzwanie
to dissuade sb from sth
engage – angażować się
– uznawać, przyznawać
mess up – namieszać, zawalić coś
itinerary – plan, trasa podróży– odwodzić kogoś od czegoś
obstacle – przeszkoda
accomplish – osiągać, realizować
effectively – skutecznie