Thinking about taking an internship abroad? Awesome!
My internship in Honduras was incredible. The country is often cited as one of the world’s most dangerous countries, so when I made the decision to go there to complete an unpaid month long internship with English speaking newspaper, you can imagine the questioning, doubtful and ultimately worried looks I received from friends and family.
For me, the scariest part of going there was not the bloody statistics splashed over the nation’s name, but it was the simple feat of travelling half way across the world completely on my own for the very first time.
Whether it be a relatively ‘safe’ country statistically, or somewhere like Honduras, I guess the feeling is the same. It doesn’t matter where you are going, all that matters at the moment that you pay for that flight, make your plans final and get on that plane is that you know you’re going to be alone. Totally alone.
If you’re doing an internship like I was, then chances are it’ll be your first time travelling alone – maybe even your first time travelling, period. Of course this is such an exciting thing to do, but as a young female traveler, this can be especially daunting. And this is not because you’re less capable of doing something completely out of your comfort zone than your male counterpart, but the very obvious implications of a young girl being alone in a foreign country.
We’ve all heard the horrific stories of solo female travelers being made into targets, and more often than not, they’re enough to put anyone off embarking on what could potentially be the journey of your life.
But this is exactly it; you might just have the journey of your life, an adventure that will redefine who you are and open up opportunities you never even contemplated existed.
Here’s four tips to make sure you get there safely and make the most of the opportunity you deserve.
- Research the Area You’re Going to: This may sound like an obvious one, but the importance of research is overwhelmingly important when travelling on your own. Getting to know a few of the customs, a bit of the culture and a general idea of your location is only ever going to do you favors. Turning up to Zambia, for example, in hot pants and a cropped top are only going to draw unnecessary and intimidating looks from men, and disapproving looks from the conservatively dressed women. Not the ideal start to any work placement.
- Always be Aware of Your Surroundings: Okay, so you’re going out for drinks with a few people from work? Make sure you know where you’re going and how to get back. Got there by bus? That may have gotten you there, but what if the last bus is at 9pm? Always have a back up plan.
- Be Safe: Stating the glaringly obvious here, but you would be surprised at the amount of people travelling who never let anybody know where they are, what they are doing, who they’re going with and when they’re going to be back. It sounds like a routine your parents would be proud of, and you know what? They probably would. Reverting back to your childhood days and reporting back to somebody who cares about your whereabouts is simple, easy, and might just keep you safe.
- Don’t let Statistics Scare You: General criminal statistics are usually pretty terrifying, especially when presented by the media. Don’t be scared off by them. Obviously take these into account when you’re researching where you’re going to go and spend a chunk of time, but just remember that it’s not all bad, and as long as you follow a few simple rules, the chances are you’ll be absolutely fine.
It’s all about wising up and getting out there. The most difficult part of my internship was the getting there. Casting away that fear and taking that big leap of faith into the unknown was one of the best things I’ve ever done, and as long as you keep your wits about you, you’ll laugh at the day you nearly walked away from that chasm of uncertainty.