One of the most unique things about volunteering with ILP is that you get to spend an entire semester abroad. A full semester really is amazing but it may seem like a long time at first. Here are some reasons why you'll love having a full semester to volunteer instead of just a week or two and while you'll be so thankful you did!
While you're comparing volunteer programs, you'll notice that you have options that vary as far as length of program goes. There are programs where you can go abroad for 10 days, 1 month, a semester, 6 months, 1 year, etc. You might initially think about going for a shorter period of time because it's not so much of a commitment, but there's a lot of reasons why those longer trips have a ton of benefits.
Ready to go but money is an obstacle preventing you from going? Click here to learn more about how you can spend less for your semester abroad!
You Need More Time To Do It All
Have you ever gone on a trip for a few days or a few weeks and once it came towards the end you weren't ready to leave? Short trips can definitely be fun, but having something longer gives you plenty of time to do what you want to do and see what you want to see. If you're there for a couple weeks, you're only going to see what the tourists do; you're not going to find those hidden gems or really get to know the culture.
Even with a full semester you will get to the end and not have your checklist complete, but hey 4 months is way better than 4 days to get going at your bucket list!
You'll Become Comfortable
I loved having a full semester abroad because it helped me feel comfortable. I knew I could navigate the city I lived in , I picked up some of the language, made friends with the locals and new the best places to eat around town. Knowing my surroundings and being able to live more like a local than a tourist was so fun. I gained tons of confidence because, hey, I was living in a foreign country and I knew what I was doing!
It's More Affordable
Going for longer is usually more affordable than going for a shorter time period. That doesn't really sound right, but it's true. The biggest costs for most volunteer programs are getting you over there, so it's pretty likely the the cost of your two week program is really similar to the cost of your 3 month program. You're going to get a way better bang for your buck if you do a longer service trip.
Not naming names... but I just did a quick search and found a similar service program to ILP that offers shorter trips. For that program you're going to pay almost $3,000 for a one month trip (not including your flight and visa - so add at least another $1,000 to that if not more). For a comparable ILP trip, you're going to pay LESS for 4-5 months (and it includes your flight and visa).
Basically if you go for that 1 month trip, you're going for 1/4 of the time and paying double. Yikes.
Big Changes In Yourself
I was nervous to go on my first trip because I didn't want people or things to change while I was gone. When I came home yes, my family had re-painted the living room but nothing crazy new had happened. My friends still did the same things together, my room was untouched it and everything was almost exactly how I left it.
The biggest thing that changed was me. I came back with confidence, a love for a new culture, amazing memories and incredible friends. Yes, there may be a few things that change at home while you were abroad, but they will be small in comparison to how you personally changed.
Relationships Will Grow
Having a full semester will give you time to meet incredible people all around you. The locals in your city can become like family if you take the time to talk with them. You will adore the kids you serve and every time they say "Teacher!" your heart will explode with joy. The people in your group will be an amazing support system and can become some of your best friends. Those relationships are not something you can build during a 3 day trip and you will be so grateful you were able to build them over the length of your semester.
There is also concern for the short service trips that sometimes you're actually doing more damage than you're intending on. If you're there for a week or two, think about the perspective of the people that you meet. They're seeing volunteers frequently come and go and get used to people not sticking around. They're used to strangers wanting to take photos with them for their Instagram. Your intentions to help are good, just be careful how quickly you step in and out of other's lives.
It Goes By FAST
Your semester will fly by in the blink of an eye. Not going to lie, there were some days I felt like would be in Ukraine or China forever, but when I got to the end of my semester I was shocked to see how fast it had really gone by. You wont't want to leave when the time comes and you will wish you were there for ten semesters instead of one!
Ready for your semester? It's ready for you! Click the button below to apply now for your semester abroad with ILP!