A semester abroad gives you some incredible and hilarious adventures ... but you'll only be able to really understand this post if you've volunteered with ILP before.
There are going to be a lot of things you'll come home with after a semester with ILP — probably a few stamps in your passport, tons of pictures, friends from your ILP group, and so many stories from all of your adventures!
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But there are just a few things you might not realize are going to stick with you much longer than the tan you got in the Caribbean, or your souvenirs you bought while in Europe ... there are just some things that no one else can understand unless you have taught with ILP before.
You Know You're An ILP Volunteer When ...
This Is How You Talk Now
You answer to the name "teacha", because you're pretty used to a classroom full of kids shouting that at you when you're teaching! You even turn your head when you hear this on the street — even the neighborhood kids you don't teach call you "teacha!"
Oh, and you also started speaking to your ILP group and your friends like you talk to your students — "I want to go. Do you want to go? Let's go!"
You're also pretty good at speaking to strangers who don't speak the same language as you do. ILP volunteers don't need to know the local language before their semester, but end up getting pretty good at charades and picking up a word or two!
You Find This In Your Pockets
You find tickets EVERYWHERE. In your pocket. In your shoes. In the washing machine. On the floor of your hostel on vacation. In your suitcases when you come home from your semester. You're not sure how they got there, but here they are.
There are also wrappers from your favorite snacks hiding in your pockets, and you've stashed your snacks from home in a secret pocket of your suitcase — you've found a few local snacks you love, but sometimes you just need some snacks from home (maybe you even cried a little bit when your mom sent you a package filled with hard to find snacks like Goldfish crackers, peanut butter, and gummy candies).
You Understand How Hard (But Good) Teaching Is
Teaching is hard — but more times than not, it's the best part about your semester abroad according to the majority of our volunteers. You may even find yourself missing the troublemakers in your class, the kids that you didn't think you'd ever miss, but here you are, looking at the picture you guys took on the last day of class!
So many volunteers say that teaching is the most difficult but most rewarding part of your semester and now that you're home, you know exactly what our alumni are talking about.
When You See A Bug
You're pretty used to smashing those huge spiders because it's something you see pretty much every day (or week). Or if you're not the bug smasher in your group, you can at least grab your phone and shout for the token bug smasher in your group! (There's typically someone who's willing to smash spiders in a group).
You're A Lot More _________
Maybe you're more confident, knowing that you can totally figure out how to get around in a new city you've never been to before. Maybe you feel more independent, after living abroad in a totally new country and doing a lot of things that you didn't think you could do before. Maybe you're a volunteer who came home more grateful, after teaching in a neighborhood where many families didn't have homes with adequate space, lighting, or running water.
So many volunteers say that their semester abroad taught them so much about themselves and the world.
You Can Totally Pack In A Backpack
With all of your weekend adventures and vacation time, you're pretty good at packing up everything you need in a backpack — welcome to traveling like a minimalist!
You Appreciate The Little Things About Coming Home
You may have chosen to volunteer with ILP for the chance to do a lot of traveling, but as it turns out, it was the kids you loved most about your semester! You didn't think it was true until you were looking forward to coming "home" from vacation because you miss the kids you teach.
And when you come home from your semester, it's all about the little things — the A/C, carpet in the house, having cold milk that's not in a bag, being able to read everything in your pantry, calling friends and family without worrying about the time difference, and coming back to your favorite snacks.
You're Already Planning Your Next Trip
You're really an ILP volunteer if you're already planning your next trip! Whether you want to get even more stamps in your passport by planning a trip with friends, or want to go back for free as an ILP Head Teacher, this typically sets in before you're even done with your first semester!
There's just no way to explain how incredible, hilarious, and life changing a semester abroad can be until you experience it yourself! See for yourself why so many past ILP volunteers describe their experience living in another country as unforgettable.
Come see where in the world you volunteer right here and start getting a bit more info on what it's like to make a difference while you travel and serve with ILP — come talk to a rep and get your questions answered: