Welcome to part 2 of my list of the 10 impressive and maybe even life-changing opportunities for working or living abroad. You can catch up with part 1.
Before we kick off the countdown, remember that the list featured here is only meant to be a start. I’ve tried to really find something for everyone, no matter if you’re a student or you’ve got 20 years in a career on your CV.
You will be forced to question all your assumptions and talk to people that you would not usually talk to. It’s different from a nice trip in a hotel, but also different from becoming full-on expat.
I know this is a tough thing to consider – when I started working in my own first career I chose that job for its travel opportunities, but I never stayed away for more than 3 weeks and only ever saw hotels. Result? I became an airport expert, not a world expert. Have a look at these ideas (and the last 10), read what Sally has to say about school exchanges, size them all up and then decide that an international exchange DOES belong into your life. Hope it’s not harder than it sounds!
For those looking East: Taiwan’s Mandarin Language Enrichment Scholarship
Get on the phone to your local Taiwanese embassy, because this programme sounds great! Taiwan’s Ministry of Education is offering financial support for international students (over 18) wanting to take up Mandarin Chinese courses. The duration can be 3-12 months from what I understand on their website, so it’s definitely worth investigating. Beware though: It does say you have to be “of good moral character”.
For North Americans and Germans: CBYX
CBYX is an exchange scheme between the US Congress and the German Bundestag and enables students and professionals under 25 of either country to spend up to a year abroad. It’s pretty popular and prestigious, so you’d better make sure you get your application in excellent order. But with graduates as inspiring as Mickey Mangan, we just know that this belongs in this Fluent Language blog countdown!
Note that the German branch is not the only cultural exchange supported by the US Congress - on their website you'll also find ideas for exchanges with Korea, Japan, Argentina, Chile and lots of other countries.
For those with a mind for industry: NES Global Talent
NES stood out to me because it focuses on an industry that has two great characteristics:
- The work is ever project based, meaning that you're practically expected to change at least part of your job after some time.
- It's global, growing, in need of linguists and yet completely aimed at people who aren't linguists at all.
NES is actually a recruitment company, and it offers jobs for big, meaty construction projects like oil rigs and rail lines and pipelines. Their sample projects are all over the world. If you're an engineer with a thirst for adventure, this would be the place to look.
For the North (of Europe, mostly): Nordplus
By Thor, now I want to be Danish. Nordplus is a programme for the Nordic countries that's mostly aimed at institutions who want to run projects. As an individual, there's something for you no matter if you're a student, adult learner or language person. I'd recommend you start with the projects that have approved funding and see if any of them take your fancy. The programmes are for people in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Aaland and the Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
For brave souls: Start an online business
Seriously? Online business is becoming a real lifestyle choice for people from all walks of life, and allowing them to quit their jobs, change their life and enjoy much more flexibility than ever before. The language learner's obvious place to look is Fluent in 3 Months, and I would also recommend the Suitcase Entrepreneur and My Wife Quit Her Job. No, this choice is not without its risks. It isn't as easy as many of the others, and the results of this one will be life-changing, but they might also be more rewarding than we could ever dream of. Worth a try!
That's it for my 10 snapshots of opportunities that will help you go abroad, but shift your life around only as much as you want to. What remains left to say is that you should really check out your own country's foreign office and country partnerships because I've seen some real gems during my research, for example Germany's kulturweit.
Are you taking the plunge? Are you currently abroad? Did you do it without anyone's help or funding? It'd be great to hear from more fellow travelling souls so please do leave a comment.
Credit: I had some fabulous research help from Lissa, an excellent seller on Fiverr. She really got involved and rose to the challenge, so if you ever want some research done for only $5, check her out. Thanks Lissa!