A shoulder bag in the middle of a dirt road.by Ash Coutu, CFICE Communications RA

Do the Ottawa winters have you down? Maybe you need a change of scenery.

Thankfully, being a student means you have access to unique opportunities to study, travel, and to work abroad. Travelling is a big undertaking, so check out these tips on how to prepare for your next international internship or job! And be sure to check with your own department, faculty, or university for suggestions too as they’ll be an excellent resource for how to get the ball rolling.

Step 1: Figure out where you want to go

This is the fun part! Where in the world do you want to visit? Have you always had your heart set on seeing the pyramids? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to speak Italian?

There are numerous international opportunities that not only add stamps to your passport, but also add valuable experience to your resume.

Click on the links below to check out some great international opportunities posted on Carleton University’s International Student Service Office site:

Step 2: Make it count!

Anyone can take a trip abroad, but as a student you have the opportunity to apply your international experience towards your education at Carleton University.

The International Student Service Office is a great place to get yourself acquainted with these opportunities, as they will provide you with up-to-date information about international programs, application processes, and important deadlines.

Check with your specific department to find out exactly which classes will be transferable, and how they will correspond with your academic calendar and graduation date.

Step 3: Prepare for your trip

Hurrah! You’ve applied and been accepted to your program. Now you need to prepare to go. Beyond packing, here are some things you might want to consider pre-departure.

View of a plane wing through a plane window.

Take courses on cultural competency

Queen’s University offers an online module that will help prepare you for an outstanding trip abroad. Check out the Tools for Success in an Intercultural World module, or their page of resources for intercultural competency training.

You can also reach out to Carleton University’s Equity Services for information about their training opportunities, or apply to be matched with a Peer Mentor through the International Student Services Office. 

Learn the language

Become familiar with some of your host country’s language too. Grab a traveller’s pocket phrase book, and acquaint yourself with common words. Free apps like Dulingo and Babbel can turn your long plane ride and layover into productive and fun language learning opportunities.

Find housing

Do you want to do a homestay with a local family, or would you prefer a shared apartment with other students? If your program doesn’t offer housing, here is a great list of ways to find housing abroad, so you can rest easy when you arrive.

Prepare for Culture Shock

Culture shock is a natural process and encompasses four different stages. Learning a little bit about what culture shock entails will help you understand how it may affect you. Studying up on your host country, (i.e.: religious traditions, food, holidays, clothing, weather) will also help prepare you for cross-cultural experiences.  

Carleton University is registered with My World Abroad. To use their tools, log in with your Carleton email address and sign up to have access to important information like: how to obtain a work visa, tips on travel health and safety, country guides and much more.

Step 4: Pay for your travel

A cartoon tree covered in green apples with dollar sign centres.Check out this list of resources from Guelph University to find out how to fund your travel experience!

AgriVenture International Rural Placements – offers a unique opportunity for young people aged 18 and 30 to travel and work on a farm, in agriculture, horticulture or home management in the following countries: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Europe and Japan.

AIESEC – provides a global internship program for students and recent graduates with the opportunity to work abroad in the areas of management, information technology and development.

Canada World Youth – offers a variety of skill building international programs for youth aged 15 to 25.

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) – is great site to visit to learn more about formal CIDA sponsored volunteer and work opportunities. Of particular interest to students is the International Youth Internship Program.

Engineers Without Borders (EWB) – uses volunteers overseas to help people in developing communities gain access to technologies that will improve their lives.

Green Jobs International – a continuously updated overview of various international paid jobs, internships and volunteering opportunities within the environmental, engineering and management sector.

International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) – is an international student exchange program located in over 80 countries. It is an independent, non-governmental program, with consultative relationships to UNESCO, UN Economic and Social Council, UN Industrial Development Organization, the ILO, and other bodies. More than 7,000 Canadian students have benefited from the program.

Student Work Abroad Programme (SWAP) – provides opportunities for Canadians between 18-35 with a chance to work abroad. Services provided include obtaining the work visa, arranging your travel, and assistance with accommodations and resources upon arrival.

Transitions Abroad – is a useful web portal with links to print resources, websites and articles on working abroad.

World University Service of Canada – offers many ways to volunteer overseas including ‘Uniterra’ and ‘Students Without Borders’.

Youth Challenge International – offers 5-10 week international volunteer opportunities for youth aged 18 to 30.

Step 5: Have fun!

Bring a camera and have a blast on your adventure abroad. Time flies when you are travelling, so it may be a good idea to keep a blog or a journal to record some of the neat things you encounter on your trip.

Enjoy this rich experience, and don’t forget to phone your parents every once and a while to let them know you’re safe!