Looking for places to travel to to learn, volunteer, study, or challenge myself.
June 1, 2012 7:57 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for ideas for anywhere in the world where I can travel to for periods of between 2 weeks to 2 months and do things like volunteer, study, learn, or challenge myself.

I'm just about to turn 30, and will be leaving my current job of 7 years towards the end of this year and am looking to experience a bit more of the world before I move onto the next stage of my life.

I will be taking 2-5 months off, and in this time I will be doing a few random trips, but I am also looking into something a bit more different than just a regular vacation. The thing is, I'm pretty much open to ANYTHING. To give you an idea of the sort of things I have looked into so far: (I guess the only real relevant information about me is that I am an Australian, living in Australia).

* I have a friend who plans to go to Nepal and volunteer at an Orphanage for three months.
* I thought about maybe learning Mandarin in China for a month or two, since I feel there will be many opportunities with the rise of China over the next few decades.
* My friend is looking at doing something like learning Kung Fu in China.
* Quetzal Trekkers takes volunteers for three months to be trekking guides in Guatemala or Nicaragua.
* I thought about starting with something like hiking from one side of England to the other, but I think I would like to find either something where I can help or learn, and have interactions with other people.

So I am pretty much open to any suggestions, anywhere in the world. Preferably 2 months or less, 2 weeks or longer.

I went to Hawaii recently, and loved it there. I would love it if there was some kind of program I could do there for a month or so; but I doubt it. The same goes for New York, I would be interested in finding out about any opportunities there.

But really, as I said, I'm open to anything, anywhere... And any specific examples (with websites) would be very much appreciated.

Thanks for reading :)
posted by anawesomeguy to Travel & Transportation around Dubai, UAE (7 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Might be a bit more work than you're looking for, but WWOOFing sounds awesome. Have not done it myself though (yet?).
posted by randomnity at 8:02 AM on June 1, 2012

Best answer: WWOOF.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:12 AM on June 1, 2012

Best answer: Check out Habitat for Humanity's Global Village program and Cross Cultural Solutions. I haven't done anything with CCS but I've heard good things and I have volunteered with Global Village twice and loved it.
posted by kat518 at 8:24 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you plan to learn mandarin in china I suggest you stay there for at least one or two years--not months. China is a huge country and Chinese is a difficult language. Otherwise just go to travel.

WWOOFing is a really good option.

I suggest picking a theme and then structuring travel around it such as taking cooking lessons or learning more about food. So travel to as many places as you can with this overarching goal in mind to learn about their food so you have more structure to your travels. That way you actively accru some skillsets (like cooking different ethnic cuisines from different countries or provinces) and don't feel like you've lost a sense of purpose--which can happen if you travel for. Long period time and don't have a goal in mind.
posted by bluelight at 9:12 AM on June 1, 2012

Haven't read this myself, but the book Work Your Way Around the World looks like an excellent resource.
posted by mshrike at 9:46 AM on June 1, 2012

A friend of mine did a program with Cross-Cultural Solutions and LOVED it.
posted by raccoon409 at 10:24 AM on June 1, 2012

VolunteerSouthAmerica.net has a great list of low-cost volunteer organizations in Latin America. (I spent three months with Pisco Sin Fronteras a couple years ago after seeing it on that list and it was great, but I have no experience with any of the other organizations.)
posted by geegollygosh at 10:34 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

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