Making the most of down-time
We are always pleased when our volunteers and interns tell us they had just the right mix of project time and free time during their time abroad. Going through a cultural adjustment and getting to know a host family or new coworkers can take a lot of energy. Rest and relaxation can ease the stress of these big transitions. It often happens, though, that our participants are ready after a couple weeks to get out and let their curiosity lead them for a while. For those who want to make sure they have lived to the fullest while abroad, here are some tips on how to plan effectively for some adventurous down time.
- Read Your Pre-Departure Handbook– World Endeavors sends out a document that will give you useful information that answer a bulk of the questions you have about your placement and about your location in general – the key is to read it. Many people get busy with preparations, or winding down with school, and forget to look over each section. Besides having great information about what you can do with your down time, the packet contains helpful information about safety and tips that will help you have the best experience possible.
- Do Online Research – This somewhat obvious step can be a bit more nuanced than you think. Don’t get stuck on sites that cater strictly to informing tourists. Make sure you read some thoughtful blogs by people with similar travel goals and preferences. Do you have a penchant for Commedia masks after last semester’s theater course? Is there a sculpture, painting, or world famous mountain trail on your bucket list? Make sure that you research your destination so you don’t miss local attractions that resonate with your hobbies or dreams.
Ask Your Local Friends – Check with your host family or your work friends about what they recommend to do and see on weekends. Your new friends may also want to take you to their favorite out of the way places. Getting an insider’s view is one of the reasons you chose a meaningful experience abroad, so make the most of these offers and serendipitous adventures.