6 Secrets to Work While Studying Abroad

Studying abroad is amazing. Not only do you get to study a topic that interests you, but you get to learn about a different culture and see the world. Of course, if there are certain drawbacks. One big one is how hard it will be to work while you’re out there.

Hard, but not impossible. Most countries allow students to work at least a certain number of hours a week and since you’ve made your studies easier and therefore now have those available, why not, right? All you’ve got to do is put in some extra effort you can make some extra money, meet some new people and truly savor the local culture as only somebody living in a country can.

Here’s what you need to look out for.

Make sure your visa allows it

Different rules apply to different countries. And so, when you want to work the first step you’ll need to explore is whether you’re able to. This will almost invariably be documented in the papers you received when you got your student visa.

If it’s not there a Google search will give you the details. Just make sure you get it straight from the horse’s mouth. Don’t rely on some secondary website. Instead go straight to the government page. At least there, if it’s inaccurate you have some recourse. If it’s in accurate on a third-party page, there is nothing you can do.

No visa? Consider freelancing online

There is an entire community of people working online nowadays. That’s a perfect place to work if you’re not allowed to work in the country where you’re staying. All you need to do in this case is make sure that the bank you’ve linked your online payment services to (most people use Paypal) is located in the country you’re from.

In that way, you can make sure the money that you’re making online doesn’t pass through the country you’re residing in, thereby not breaking their working laws. Do note that in this case you might have to pay taxes over what you’re earning back home.

Can get a visa? Learn the language

At least make an effort, so that when they ask you if you speak the language you don’t have to lie when you say ‘I’m learning’. This will make a big difference. In fact, when you go for the job interview, make sure you’ve got some of the basic phrases down, as many people appreciate that you’re taking the effort to speak to them in their own tongue.

In fact, many foreigners resent the fact that most native English speakers only speak one language. They feel that this is disrespectful, particularly if they’re residing in a country for a while. To avoid being painted as ‘another one of those monoglots who expects us to speak their language even though they’re in our country’ take the time to learn some of their saying. This will significantly boost your chances and have numerous long-term benefits as well.

Do something different

Sure, you might be tempted to get a job at the university. And you could certain do worse. The thing is, did you come all this way just to hang out at the university? If you can get a job outside, in something a bit more local and a bit different, you’re far more likely to get a real taste of what life is like.

What’s more, if you’re trying to learn the local language, being immersed in a place where that is the main language spoken will have tremendous benefits – as that’s how you actually learn a language.

Have you considered volunteering?

If the money isn’t actually that important (I’ve heard that happens) then you might want to consider volunteering. There are numerous student volunteer programs all across the world. And this how you really get to appreciate a different side from the cloistered university life that most students life. It really gives you the chance to experience what things are like for the less fortunate people living in the country.

What’s more, volunteering work can easily lead to other opportunities, as people are far more likely to help people who have helped their country and their community. This might mean that once you’re done at university you can get a work visa, for example. Or maybe some other opportunity in some other country will present itself.

Be careful about working illegally

Sure, it might seem like it will be easy to avoid getting caught, but have you considered what will happen if you do get caught? In many countries that’s grounds for the immediate withdrawal of your student visa, meaning that all the time that you invested in getting that university degree will be wasted.

So think twice before choosing this route.

Instead, why not spend your time applying for new scholarships? There is nothing illegal about pursuing additional financial aid programs and in effect this is paid work as well (provided that you’re successful).

Last words

There are plenty of opportunities to work while you’re abroad open to you as a student. You just need to be creative about how you look and what you’re going to do and avoid getting blinkered into thinking there’s only one way to go forward. Some jobs get paid in money. Some jobs get paid in other ways.

All you’ve got to do is decide which is more important to you.

Even if you do actually need to get paid there are many chances. If the country allows it you can work there. If they don’t, you can work remotely as a freelancer or some firm back home. That’s the great thing about the world being as interconnected as it is. We no longer have to be in the place we’re working in.

A final tip: Ask around. Ask what other students have done, how they’ve made ends meet and what their experiences were. These might not necessarily be your experiences, but at least they’ll give you some idea about what to expect. And that can be invaluable when you’re trying to decide what you’re going to do.

Rick Riddle is a marketing consultant and an up-and-coming blogger whose articles aim to help people with e-learning, career, entrepreneurship, and digital marketing. Feel free to follow Rick on twitter and LinkedIn.


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