A summer job in London? An international civic service mission in Tunisia? An Erasmus programme in Rome? A post-graduate internship in Rio? A Work Holiday Visa programme in New Zealand? A youth project in Iceland? Humanitarian aid work in Madagascar? WWOOFing in Texas? A word of advice : be clear in your mind about your own motivation: is it to be socially engaged? A chance to explore or have a new experience or challenge? Is it out of curiosity or obligation? For a shared experience or just a break from it all ? Talk to others who have been away and professionals to help you clarify your plans.
What country or continent ? In the European Union (EU), the formal procedures are minimal while outside the EU the procedures are more complicated and time-consuming. Think about going somewhere closer to home for a shorter period of time and then planning a more significant experience later on. Programmes are in place to help you have your first experience abroad. Your needs and wants, your personal motivation and your personality are all decisive factors, but your strengths and weaknesses too: do you already speak another language? Do you have any personal finances? Do you know anyone who can put you up? Is this your first time out of the country? etc.
With who ?
Do you want to go it alone or with a friend or group ? If you go with friends, do you all share the same motivations? What opportunities are there for leaving with a group ? You want to leave with an organised programme. You have independent plans. Do you have contacts abroad or in your network ?
When and for how long ?
Do you want to leave soon ? Do you have the time to plan your trip ? Do you want to go this summer ? Next year ? How much time do you have to plan ? Leave enough time for all your administrative formalities, such as getting a passport or visa or getting a medical check-up, x-ray or vaccines. If you are leaving with a programme, check the terms and conditions. If you apply for financial assistance, check the application deadlines. Also take the time to think about your return, for example if you have to resume your studies on your return.
What practical advice is there for a traveller before setting off ?
Whichever option takes you abroad, you’ll need to plan your trip and some formalities need to be prepared way in advance. Avoid making it up as you go along and think ahead about accommodation, travel and medical coverage. Concerning safety, the MAEDI recommends registration on Ariane for short stays of less than 6 months Top tip : find a professional in your local area.
Building on your experience at home
Similarly, you may also need to hold a language certificate, like the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication). Check you have the right language skills to accept a position abroad.
EUROPASS is a solution to present your skills and qualifications throughout Europe whether you are a school pupil, apprentice, student, job seeker or employee. Europass facilitates mobility for anyone looking to study or work in Europe (33 countries).
The Europass CV and the Europass language passport are online templates to fill out yourself. Assess your language level :
A valid ID card or passport suffice to travel, stay and work. In certain EU countries, a registration certificate may be required, in which case you’ll need confirmation from the company or accredited educational institution, an insurance certificate and sufficient personal funds.
If you stay longer than three months, additional formalities will be required, depending on the purpose of your stay, and certain member states have restrictions at the borders and additional formalities.
It’s a good idea to visit the site of the embassy or consulate of the destination country, as non-EU countries don’t offer the same ease of access as those in the EU.
Depending on the European country in question, you may require a visa, depending on the purpose of your stay. You’ll need to have the correct visa for your particular situation (tourism, studying, working, etc.) or you may be fined or sent home. Visit the website of the country’s embassy.
On arrival in the destination country, register with the embassy or consulate.
Top tip: scan your documents and keep them on a USB drive with you at all times.
Destination outside Europe :
The same advice applies regarding visas and registering at the embassy. You must absolutely have the correct visa corresponding to the nature of your trip (studying, internship, tourism, etc.) or you may be refused entry into the country. Remember also that you can’t switch from one type of visa to another. The consulate in the country will be of absolutely no help. For certain countries, you may be able to get a Work Holiday Visa.