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For Community-Driven Global Development

Interning Abroad: How to Get There from Here

Interning abroad. The very name promises an experience of unimaginable intrigue, new experiences galore, and maybe even a completely new way of looking at life. But worries about where to go, what to do, andyeswhether it’s financially feasible can take over as your imagination gives way to your pragmatic side.

If you’re like many university students, then it’s possible that you are currently enduring the typical quarter-life crises: trying to discover yourself, uncover your professional potential, and maintain a parent-approved GPA–all while learning how to spice up an instant noodle dish. Considering the notion of doing all of the above while in a foreign country is an intimidating thought, to say the least. We all have toyed with the idea of living abroad during our university career at one point or another, but many of us are ultimately turned off by the incessant worries that ensue; What would my experience be like?, Would I actually learn anything or gain applicable skills? and of course: How can I possibly afford this?

Here at Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD), we can help you answer some of these questions by offering impactful, affordable, and professionally applicable opportunities. If you’re looking to expand your skills and worldview in a setting entirely outside that of a lecture hall, interning at one of our six global sites may be the answer you are looking for.

FSD Internships: Less Costly than You Think

Yes, it’s true: the life of the average North American university student comes with a high price tag. College expenses range from tuition to inflated textbook prices, to bus passes. But what is the final cost of a college education?

According to College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees in the United States for the 2016–2017 academic year was $33,480 at private colleges, $9,650 for state residents at public colleges, and $24,930 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.

With FSD, you can instead spend a fraction of that cost to traverse the Kenyan grasslands, explore the highlands of the Bolivian Andes, or experience the colors of India, all while making a profound impact on your personal growth, your professional repertoire, and the communities that you are enabled to work side by side with.

And while the average university student is said to spend over a $1000 annually on food in keeping up with the always growing hip culinary trends, perhaps you could get used to enjoying Indian street samosas for 5-8 Rupees each, or roughly one-tenth of a dollar.

A Cultural “Commute!”

Whether you walk, bike, scooter, drive, or are dragged to class, a university student’ daily commute is likely tiresome–and at worst, mundane. And if you’re one the 86% of college and university students who commute to school, you may be facing an onerous schlep.

When living, studying, or working abroad with FSD, there is nothing average about your daily commute. With FSD, your path to work could be along a cobblestoned maze through the exquisite colonial architecture of Salta, Argentina. It could be a stroll along the abundantly green shores of Lake Victoria in Jinja, Uganda. Or, it could be accompanied by new friends made in Udaipur, India.

Out-in-the-World Learning

Classroom learning is key, of course. At FSD, however, we offer a hands-on learning experience that revolutionizes the task of absorbing a textbook’s contents into knowledge gained through cultural immersion, interpersonal interactions with welcoming communities, and transformative field work. Instead of being lectured to about the importance of the binomial theorem by your stats professor, how about seeing for yourself how financial systems work when interning with Baitambogwe SACCO in Uganda, one of our microfinance partners that expand the economic opportunity of ambitious business men and women. Or perhaps you want to extend your knowledge about environmental sustainability beyond what you learn in your integrative biology class; if so- check out our partnering programs with Gaia Pacha in Bolivia. Hannah Whitehouse, one of our FSD Kenya alumna, described this out of the classroom exposure by stating that she "gained a great deal of experience and knowledge about sustainable development that most definitely could not have been learned simply from a class in a university setting."

With a rich portfolio of programs offered in six locations around the world, FSD enables students, professionals, and philanthropists to join together and support life-changing international work led by local grassroots leaders and organizations, all while building their own life experiences and professional skills. As one of our Uganda interns, Rachel Davis, put it; "Learning about sustainable development the only way you really can, by jumping into it and getting first-hand experience. I have learned so much about working with people from different cultures and with different values and viewpoints, as well as learned so much about sustainable development and working in developing countries. I am so grateful for all of that knowledge that I know will help me in whatever I pursue going forward." 

And in your time off, instead of heading back to your dorm to nap, how about trying tree-top ziplining in Nicaragua, celebrating in the streets for Oruro Carnival in Bolivia, or having your body painted the color of the rainbow for Holi festivities in India? Join our team and you may just be able to gain the kind of cultural awareness only real life can provide–as well as skills that prepare you for grad school, your first job–or beyond.

This article was written with contributions from Nicole LaPorte