Other Multicultural Youth Experiences
November 12, 2005 10:07 AM   Subscribe

In about a month I will return from one of the greatest experiences of my life - a multicultural travelling creative extravaganza. Then what?

Right now I am on the tail end of my travels with Up With People's WorldSmart Leadership Program - I started in July/August and will return home in mid December. It has been a fantastic experience so far - meeting all sorts of nez people from all over the world, performing in different styles, working with communities, visiting different regions of the world...so much more than I can accurately describe.

However, I don't have anything to do when I return home. I don't plan to return to college (due to personal issues with said college) and I'm not sure I want to return to conventional college life. I was hoping to be a road staff person for Up With People but their next semester only travels next July and there's no guarantee I'll have a job with them. Basically, I'm lost.

1. Any ideas on other such acitivities or programs that I could participate in in the meantime? Something global/multicultural, involves travel, is creative and out-of-the-box, involves youth and young adults, and helps the community. Camps, youth conferences, events, so on and so forth; most preferably as a staff member (though being a participant is OK also). I am aware of Peace Boat and Raleigh International (am too old for AFS) but wanted to know more options.

2. How do I cope with the inevitable emptiness of leaving the best thing in my life and returning to regular boring mundanity? (I'm not homesick at all).

For reference: I'm 20, female, Malaysian with Bangladeshi passport. I have a year and a half of college experience and auite a number of volunteer experience (this trip is giving me loads!). I'd prefer an opportunity that is either paying me (salary or allowance) or has a scholarship.

Thank you!
posted by divabat to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I just came home from a similar thing that lasted six months (though I was traveling independently), and let me tell you, it sucks to high heaven. I feel pretty lost.

First and foremost, I'd suggest you finish college. If you don't like the one you went to, transfer.

Why don't you try teaching English? You can get a TEFL certificate pretty easily through a local university, or you can go to teflcourse.net and actually take it in another country. I took it in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, and while I didn't enjoy the course much Vietnam is awesome beyond words.

It's incredibly easy to get teaching work anywhere in southeast Asia, I had two jobs within two days of looking. The pay is usually about $12 an hour or more (I'm speaking for Vietnam, I don't know about other places) and the living is incredibly cheap, I made enough for the entire month in one week of working.

Most places prefer to hire white people, so getting a job as a Malaysian may be frustrating, but I think it's still possible.
posted by borkingchikapa at 12:33 PM on November 12, 2005

I can't offer any suggestions for what to do next, but I will say that you should prepare for the vacuum of life back home. It's just not the same.

I travelled independently overseas for a year after I finished high school, and it was amazing. When I got back home.... it wasn't. It was good to see family and friends again, but within a few days I was ready to be off again.

Keep looking for things to do, don't just accept that the fun part of your life is over or something like that... but also realise that there will be these dips between the peaks, there will be these mundane weeks or months and it's not going to help you if you're hating it all the way through. Just try and get the most from it, even though it's not what you want. Try and explore your home town like it is a new city you've just arrived in. Try to treat it like you treated all the places you went when you were travelling.

Good luck finding something to satifsy the adventurous thirst, but be ready to have a big change of pace when you get home.
posted by twirlypen at 2:36 PM on November 12, 2005

There's no culture shock like coming-home culture shock.
posted by signal at 6:51 PM on November 12, 2005

What everyone else said. It sucks. It will suck. Just be braced for suckage and try to occupy yourself with fun things. Socialise a lot. Don't get sucked into all work and no play. That's the death.

Also, be aware that I took significant time out of my career to go travelling at the age of 31 and again at 37. So tell yourself that it isn't "over".... and promise yourself that you'll do it again before you're thirty. And make it happen.
posted by Decani at 7:35 PM on November 12, 2005

I don't have any specific suggestions, but a world traveller and early adopter of blogging has five years of archives at solbeam.com. She mentions several programs that she's worked for that sound like what you're looking for in question 1.
posted by komilnefopa at 8:48 PM on November 12, 2005

Suck it up. Life is life. Working is life. Mundanity is life. Earning a living and paying your way is life. Work a lot, earn a lot, spend a lot enjoying a lot. You're lucky to have enjoyed what you have already but to enjoy more you need to do some graft. Welcome to the real world. ;)
posted by brautigan at 11:41 PM on November 12, 2005

What twirlypen, signal and decani said. The study-abroad staff at uni called it reverse culture shock, and it's much more difficult to deal with than living in a foreign culture. One tip: upon returning home, don't blather on about your experiences abroad unless people express real interest in it. They will (especially if they have no frame of reference) become bored of your stories, have a hard time relating, and/or even feel belittled by your experiences.
posted by masymas at 12:58 AM on November 13, 2005

i find planning for lots of short vacations--and of course taking them--makes up for some of the dull normal life stuff. I try to go away at least 3-5 times a year, even if it's just weekends away somewhere new/interesting. Definitely finish school--you can go at night too. Maybe start working for a travel company or airline? You've gotten good experience that can translate into an interesting job, i think.
posted by amberglow at 6:08 AM on November 13, 2005

Response by poster: I know it will suck. That's why I'm asking for ways to make it not suck so much.

Part of the time would probably involve trying to find a new uni to study in, though I need to find a scholarship that would accept me (I'm already disqualified from every scholarship offered in Malaysia because I am not a citizen there, and there aren't any for my fields of study). So any ideas on that - especially if they are alternative sort of colleges - would be good too.

Thing is, the people who I've seen be most successful and happy at things of this nature all kind of gave up on college - stopped partway through. And I know conventional college life is not a good fit for me - not right now anyway. Is there such a thing as a "travelling university"?

decani: Oh I definitely want to keep doing this! My best friend (who's 33) has had jobs that involve travelling (she's a TV host, among other things) for many years now and she's most at bliss while at work. That's the sort of career path I'd like to go into.

komilnefopa: Will check out solbeam soon, thank you!

amberglow: No night school in this country :( There are some media classes held by the Centre of Independent Journalism that I could probably take though.

Keep them coming and thank you...brainstorming is always good...
posted by divabat at 8:06 AM on November 13, 2005

My best friend (who's 33) has had jobs that involve travelling

Well, that's a great sort of job... but don't lose sight of the fact that with a little bit of planning and a willingness to take a risk you can jack in your job altogether in order to take an extended travel break. That's what I did, both times. The first time I did it I initially asked for six weeks unpaid leave. They said no. So I said, "Okay, I resign then." That was one of the sweetest moments of my life. Almost as sweet as the three months of backpacking around Greece which followed it.
posted by Decani at 4:40 PM on November 15, 2005

Response by poster: UPDATE

OK, so I'm back. I went through all stages of loss right before my departure (I think we all did) though right now I don't know if I'm in "acceptance" or "denial".

I've been elected crew representative so I'm not done with this crew yet. I'm also going to help (informally) with admissions and promotions in this part of the world.

I don't really have anything else lined up now. I'm not 100% certain about further studies (still searching for the right place), no jobs yet. I'm trying to meet up with my best friend (the one with the travel jobs) and see if we can come up with ideas.

There is an opportunity to work on a pre-staging for the organization in April, but I need to find money for a plane ticket to Denver first. Job opportunities are also released that month.

Beyond that, I don't have much of a clue what to do.

Thanks for the suggestions and help. Everyone keeps telling me I'll go on and do "great things" but first I must find that great thing to do!

Take care.
posted by divabat at 1:16 AM on December 16, 2005

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