Five tips for taking an internship abroad

Thinking of doing an internship? Then why not do one abroad? Gemma Fottles did, and had the time of her life - here are her tips for making it happen

5 mins

Whilst I was studying I decided I needed to get some work experience. I found an internship at a newspaper in the capital of Honduras for four weeks, packed my bags, and come summer time, was on my way. 

It was a fantastic hands-on experience. I learned to dive in the Caribbean, I visited Mayan ruins, I substantially improved my Spanish and took a road trip with a local family to a farm in the countryside. The best thing? I got to write all about it, and received my first taste of working in the media – an opportunity that would prove invaluable once I had graduated.

It was a daunting and challenging internship on the other side of the world, but it gave me so much. Here are my tips for staying safe and having the best time possible...

1. Research the area you’re going to

This may sound obvious, but research is overwhelmingly important when you're 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 favours.

When it comes to doing an internship, the location is integral to what kind of experience you’re going to have. Besides all the formal stuff, research makes the whole thing seem a lot more real – it's time to get excited!

2. Always be aware of your surroundings

OK, 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? What if the last bus back is at 9pm? Always have a back-up plan.

3. Be safe

I know that I'm stating the glaringly obvious here, but you would be surprised at the amount of people 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 helps to keep you safe.

4. Don’t let statistics scare you

General criminal statistics are usually pretty terrifying. Don’t be scared off by them. Obviously take these into account when you’re researching where you’re going to go, but remember that it’s not all bad, and chances are you’ll be absolutely fine.

5. Take a leap of faith

The most difficult part of my internship was the getting there and back. 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.

Gemma Fottles is a travel blogger and digital magazine editor based in Amsterdam. Since her first experience of backpacking in Thailand at the tender age of 18, she's been addicted to travel. Her Cosmopolitan Blog Awards-nominated blog tells tales of her adventures, in the aim of inspiring others to get out there and see the world too.

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