Picture the scene: you’re lying on the beach, the sun is beating down on you and all you can hear is the crashing waves and the sound of music in the distance. Sounds perfect, right? Now imagine if that was your reality, waking up to blue skies and the beach on your doorstep, and getting paid to be there.
That’s what it’s like to work abroad. I just returned from six months working on a Greek island called Zante. You’ve probably heard of it. Known for its party reputation in Laganas, Zante is an island so beautiful, it puts Santorini and Mykonos to shame. Fact.
So why should you work abroad? It’s perfect if you can’t afford to go travelling but want to explore. You get the benefits of travelling: sun, sea, relaxation, new friends, good food, the list goes on. But you also get the benefits of living like a local: you have the time to truly explore and immerse yourself in a culture, you can learn a new language, and you even gain transferrable skills that you can use back in the UK.
Fancy giving it a go? Here are my top tips:
Do your research: when it comes to choosing a location, get online. Is the location safe to work? Is the area family-friendly or more for partygoers? When does the season run and how easy is it to find work and accommodation? Get clued up before you make a choice, you’ll be there for the summer after all. My general rule of thumb is if a place has returnee tourists and workers, it’s probably a safe bet.
Manage your expectations: My friends all agree that working abroad is one of the best experiences you can have. But it’s also one of the hardest. The hours are often long and days off are rare. Stresses get amplified in the heat and homesickness flares up when you least expect it. If you’re working an evening shift, be prepared for late nights. If you’re working days, be ready to work in the sun. Working abroad is about finding a balance. You can have that party lifestyle or a relaxing break, just remember that you’re there to work too.
Work to your strengths: Are you a people person who’s happy to go the extra mile? Try waiting on. More of a night owl who likes getting creative? How about becoming a mixologist? Maybe you’re more into the party scene? Try your hand at promo work. Whatever you choose make sure it’s something you enjoy. You’re there to have fun after all.
Secure the job: I found my job through Facebook. Long gone are the days of buying a plane ticket and looking for a job when you arrive. Social media is a great tool. Most bars, restaurants and hotels have facebook pages, websites and email addresses. Tripadvisor is also a great way to get a customer perspective on a place. Workers Facebook groups exist to give you support and can be a great way to meet people and find a job. Put the feelers out and you’ll be surprised what you get back.
Research your employer: I can’t stress this one enough. Laws regarding employee rights differ in each country. Don’t get caught out when it comes to your rights. I’ve had friends left without a place to work or even a place to stay. Check to see if your employer offers you accommodation or food as part of your job. Make sure your hours of work and method of payment are outlined, and you secure any paperwork or visa to work beforehand. Don’t be afraid of asking your employer to help, that’s part of their job.
When I left to work abroad, I thought I’d just come back with a tan. But I actually came back with more confidence, new friends, money in my pocket, transferrable skills and that tan. So give it a shot, what’s stopping you?