July 5, 2012 7:45 PM Subscribe
Another help-the-20-something-find-life-direction-question. Specific angle: international travel
Optional Special Snowflake Background
I graduated college in 2011 with a lib arts BA, for the past year I've been working in AmeriCorps but that will be coming to an end in September. At that point, I'll have around $4000 in savings and a few thousand in student loan debt.
I have been applying to jobs over the past month and haven't gotten too much response-- not that I've really been trying as hard as I could be but it is still discouraging. All of my jobs and internships and whatnot (a fairly considerable amount for someone my age) have been working with kids, which I like but is starting to feel like it might be a dead end career-wise. I'd be really happy working for an interesting nonprofit doing youth development, but am less enthusiastic about childcare. My work experience is a little of both of these, though lots of the first. (However, currently my job has turned into camp instructor to 15 obnoxious 5-6 year-olds-- herein lies the basis of my current career crisis!)
I'm also sort of in between places-- my family is in the midwest, I moved to the east coast a year ago for this job but the job prospects aren't particularly great here and there's nothing tying me here really, so I'm considering relocating back to the general region where my family is because I have missed being near to them. (My parents live in a tiny town with no jobs 100 miles away from anywhere I actually want to live so if I did relocate back to the midwest it would be more or less the same amount of work and commitment as it would be to move to anywhere else in the US, not just an easy boomerang back home.)
Anyway, between the career crisis, the dismal job market, the geographical limbo, and the $4000 burning a hole in my pocket, the idea of taking a year or so to travel somewhere and do something interesting is really starting to appeal to me.
I love travelling and have thought of teaching English somewhere but I feel like there are other options that would give me professional experience/skills/inspiration that are more personally interesting to me. I feel like if I did this right I could kick my intermediate Spanish up to near fluency, or get a bunch of experience in organic farming or some other random skill, or have the chance to learn from some really interesting development projects or just meet a lot of inspiring interesting people.
I'd have a budget of $3000 or so for this trip so as not to end up homeless when I get back. I figure that in Latin America or cheaper parts of Asia this will get me pretty far if I am creative about it-- finding longer-term housing and cooking for myself a lot or spending some of the time in situations that let me trade work for cheap or free room and board.
I am picturing staying up to 9 months depending on what I could swing budget-wise and spending the time in one or two places getting involved in organizations/projects and ideally being in some sort of language immersion situation.
I was thinking Latin America because I think having spanish proficiency would be a great skill, but I am open to other places.
So I'm looking for ideas of how to make this work, awesome projects/organizations you've heard of that I could get involved in, any stories of how you traveled in a way that was useful after you got home (beyond the ways in which travel can be amazing on a personal level), basically any ways that the great and helpful people of mefi can help me make this plan take shape.
In terms of skills-- I've got experience working with kids and teaching, doing volunteer management and working around nonprofits, and I have some experience with farming and construction. I've spent enough time in developing countries (specifically Peru and India) that I can take care of myself.
I know of wwoofing, volunteersouthamerica.org, and helpx.