The decision to volunteer for a semester with International Language Programs (ILP) is different for everyone, but seems to impact people in many of the same ways.
After volunteering with ILP three times (Ukraine, Lithuania and China) I’m a bit addicted —My semesters were incredible and I still feel like they were some of the best decisions I have ever made. They seriously changed my life and helped me become who I am today. Here's a bit about how I decided to volunteer and how my time abroad impacted me.
Still deciding if ILP is right for you?Click here to talk to a rep in the office who has volunteered! They can share their own experiences and answer your questions!
Deciding To Volunteer
Choosing to leave friends and family for a semester abroad is a big one!The decision to volunteer happened pretty fast for me. I went into the ILP office to get a little more info and look at how the application process works.
My plan was to do a trip the following year ... but that changed quickly because I found myself on a plane 2 weeks later headed to Ukraine! There were some last minute spots open and without really thinking I said I'd go! I was naturally nervous, scared, and not sure what to expect — there were things that I was nervous about that actually turned out to not be a problem at all. But, I was also SO excited that my dream to visit Europe was about to come true.
I ultimately decided to volunteer because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted help others and learn more about how they lived. And, I wanted to open my mind to new things — and couldn't wait a whole year to get started.
How I Was Impacted + What I Learned
My time in Ukraine sticks out a lot because it was the first time I had ever been on my own away from home. I didn't feel totally prepared, but it was fine! I was just out of highsSchool and had a lot to learn. Volunteering with ILP was the perfect way to learn those things. I was stretched and I learned so much about myself, other and the world around me. Ukraine wasn't the exception though, each trip taught me amazing things.
I learned to have confidence in myself. Being abroad in a foreign country can have its own challenges but being able to overcome those felt amazing. Every time I figured out how to communicate with a shop owner who didn't speak English, I figured out a bus route on my own or I simply learned a new phrase in Lithuanian I felt on top of the world.
The kids I taught in all 3 countries are still close to my heart. They were a handful but holy cow do I love them. Seeing their cute faces every day and being able to serve them and learn from them was amazing. My heart wants to explode just thinking about them. They impacted me more than I thought possible and their love was so real. No matter where you go with ILP, the kids make all the difference.
I met different people who grew up very differently than I had. This impacted me by helping me learn to love and respect others even if they are different than me and life differently than me. That's a lesson that I don't think I could have learned as deeply if I hadn't spent time abroad.
Travel truly impacted me and taught me way more than I would have expected. There is so much to see! Getting to visit places like Auschwitz and Berlin which played vital roles in history was incredible. Everywhere I went I was impacted in some way by the city and people.
No matter where you go with ILP, you will love the things you get to see and do. The cultures you experience, people you meet and things you see and do will greatly impact you and change you. Soak it in and learn as much as you can!
Ready to get started on your own semester abroad? You have tons of opportunities. From volunteering in Ukraine to Thailand you'll find wherever you go rewarding and amazing. Click the button below to get your application started now!