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Have College Degree, Must Travel

How to Live and Work Abroad After Graduation

My semester abroad in Italy made me realize how much I loved traveling. With a student loan to cover the costs, it was basically stress-free. Those days are over, though. I received my bachelor's degree, and, as everyone had been telling me, it was time to get a job.

The questions was: How could I move to Italy and support myself? After being here for almost a year, I've found that there is something out here for almost everyone. The choices range from teaching English to working in environmental communities.

Get a TEFL Certificate

One of the most respectable and reliable jobs is teaching English. Because of the newly merging European Union, every country in Europe is looking for English teachers. Since it is a job in great demand, therefore it pays well. In countries like Italy, where English isn't the first or second language, the demand is even greater.

But you can't just come over here and expect to get a job. The first requirement is a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), offered worldwide. If you want to get started right away you can contact the TEFL training organizations listed in the teaching English abroad section of TransitionsAbroad.com. Some training programs also include lifetime job placement assistance.

Or Use Your Degree

If you can't get the TEFL certificate, for whatever reason, another possibility is to use your college degree. This, and a very well-written resume, can help you get your foot in the door. People with degrees in education or languages may have a better chance of getting a job, but a college degree of any kind will give you an opportunity. Also, if you are a teacher, or have ever done any teaching of any kind, don't forget to mention that on your resume.

Most schools are looking for people willing to make a commitment of at least a year. More important to the schools than the degree is a person's ability to learn new things and pass on the knowledge that they already have. We already know how to speak English. What schools want to know is whether or not we can teach it to others.

Also try STA Travel, an organization dedicated to helping students get overseas. STA Travel helps with both study abroad and work abroad trips in addition to booking airline tickets and railpasses. They also help students get temporary work visas for Britain. In Italy, Centro Turistico Studentesco e Giovanile (CTS) can help find contact information for places to work if you are planning a trip to Italy. STA Travel, 800-925-4777, www.statravel.com; CTS, 011-39-011-812-4534; www.cts.it.

Volunteer in an Ecovillage

Another way people from all over the world are traveling and experiencing different lifestyles is by working in one of the many ecovillages located worldwide. An association called The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) organizes nearly 1,500 villages. Most of the villages need volunteers to help maintain gardens and harvests, build or restore buildings, and set up alternative energy systems. Room and board often can be traded for working.

An Ecovillage may not be the place to become rich, but from the people you meet, the things you learn, and the places you see, wealth will be gained in other ways. Here are my suggested contacts for Italy:

Assn. Culturale Torri Superiore; www.torri-superiore.org.

The European EcoVillage Network; www.gen-europe.org and browse their ecovillage database.

For more information on work abroad see TransitionsAbroad.com, and its book, Work Abroad (particularly the chapter by William Nolting on Short-Term International Jobs and Internships for Students and Recent Graduates).

These are just a few of the ways college graduates can start their journey abroad. The most important piece of advice that I can give is keep trying. Around the world isn't much farther than right next door. If you try hard enough and if your desire to travel is strong enough, you'll be amazed at how easy it is to get there.

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