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International Volunteer Exchanges

By Danielle Shew

As an international business student, it is incredibly important to have international experiences. While there are wonderful opportunities provided by FIU, there are also other options that allow you to both personalize your experiences and decrease the overall cost.

This past summer, I decided to become an au pair, which is essentially a part-time, live-in nanny with the primary goal of cultural exchange. I lived in a small town in Catalonia, Spain, and worked 20 hours a week taking three children ages 3, 8, and 12 to school and teaching them English. In exchange, I got free food and housing in Spain for 3 months, as well as a weekend off to explore the country. Au pairing is a fantastic, budget-friendly way to learn another language and culture.

In addition to learning about Spanish culture (and learning a bit of Catalan!), I also befriended other au pairs and got to learn about their cultures. Through Facebook, I was able to find a group chat of 60 other au pairs in the area. Because of this, I got to befriend people from Hungary, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the U.K.

However, if you are not the sort of person who is interested in childcare, there are other sorts of international volunteer exchanges as well. Some of the friends that I met while traveling abroad have worked and lived on donkey farms in Croatia or dog shelters in Bulgaria. There are plenty of opportunities to work the desk at a hostel, or cleaning hostel rooms. Furthermore, there are even exchanges where the volunteer can run various marketing projects, which can be a fantastic resume opportunity if that is an area of business that you are interested in.

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