You are the one who knows best which program abroad will go in alignment with yourself.
But here are a few tips that will come handy when it comes to deciding where to spend your time- which is the most valuable thing we have right?- in the near future. Your time is gold.
1. Do what you like
Do not choose a random program just because you want to move to a particular city.
If it is for a short period of time for example for 3 months then you might be fine and able to handle it.
But for a long- term project, you should choose something that you are passionate about.
This was a mistake I made when I moved to Berlin in 2016 to work in a kindergarten.
I wanted to improve my German level, moved to that particular city because 1. I knew they will be more expats and 2. because it was easier to be elected.
In the first month, while being abroad, I started to feel a little weird about being surrounded by kids running and yelling and working with them from 9- 5.
It was the moment when I knew for sure that I didn’t want to spend the next months doing kind of this job because it was not for me.
My gut was telling me that before I said yes but I wasn’t listening.
It was a great experience and I do not regret making that jump but if I get back on time I will tell myself not to be so impatient and wait until you find a program you love.
You are not really happy with what you do on a daily basis, apart from yourself, other people will notice.
It will be worth it and you might not face the inconvenience of needing to rush to find another job or project as soon as possible.
2. Research, research, research
The regulations can differ a lot from a continent to another, to one country to another and from one city to another.
For me, it was shocking to know that in Germany there is no public health system and you should own private health insurance, otherwise you can be penalized and you can’t spend a single day in the country without being insured. This is quite an issue when changing jobs and simply quitting from one job or volunteering project and waiting to find others.
Also that you will get a fine if you download illegal resources from online websites. They take it quite seriously when it gets to protect other people’s work (and art).
As Berlin is one of the cities of Europe with more bicycles there is also a law that restricts passing by a yellow light with your bicycle. This can cost you up to 100€.
This was something that I got to know once I was there for not doing my research properly and prior to my arrival.
I got to know that there were also taxes for having a religion: there is a specific tax for being Muslim, Catholic, or identify yourself with any other religion.
These taxes go to the maintenance, remodeling, and conservation of the buildings.
This is why, before choosing the place you are planning to move abroad, take your time to do research about the safety, laws, regulations, taxes, neighborhoods, etc.
If you are familiar with the country, that might get easier for you. An easy way to do this is to ask directly to locals or former expats who are currently living there. Join any Facebook group or find a blog where you can get the information from.
3. Check out all the paperwork
Even if they promise you The Sun and The Moon and they assure you that this position will be amazing, always double-check all the contract details.
If you are going to relocate with already a job position or a vacancy in a volunteer project or even if you moved abroad and you just found one, you should always take your time to read the paperwork and ask any question.
You have the right to get clear and know everything in advance to make a clear and more convenient decision.
Get clear about a relocation package (if any), insurance, salary conditions, etc. and compare all of that with the city you will be relocated to.
The standard of living- how expensive is to live there and if it is accurate to the salary you will receive-, savings that you might need to count on, extra costs that you need to count on, the neighborhood you are planning to move to and its safety.
This is super important and the key to know before accepting to sign any kind of paper with your name on it.
4. Be kind to yourself
You are about to make a big decision and you are so brave doing so. Be kind to yourself and don’t get overwhelmed by all the things to do before, during, and after.
Take your time enough to not rush and also to still make that jump. You most likely will never be 100% sure about it and this is ok.
Do not put so much pressure on you saying “I need to stay there for 1 year otherwise it will be a failure”, “ I need to adapt easily”, “ I need learn that language quickly to be able to speak with the locals” “I need to grow in my career to make it worthy”- Does any of these sentences resonate with you?
Already moving to another country or city is a win. It doesn’t matter if you do not accomplish all your planned goals. Even if you do not feel it right now, once you look back you will see that you have done a lot, be proud!