How to make the most of your summer/winter breaks 

I was thrilled when I saw the suggested topics for articles to share with you all. ‘How to make the most of your summer/winter breaks’ stood out to me immediately, as how spending all of my summer holidays abroad is what has defined me and my student experience. 

I have always been a restless person who is looking for new experiences and opportunities, add being an avid language learner on top, and that is the perfect recipe for pursuing adventure overseas! What better time to do so than our three-month long summer break? 

Getting to live and experience overseas in bite sized chunks can be incredibly rewarding, and bring you back to university with a renewed sense of purpose and great stories to bring up in class! 

One thing that has always stood out to me was the resistance from my peers to take these opportunities. Everyone was worried about logistics and MONEY, and felt as though these opportunities ‘weren't for them’, and only rich people with GPA’s of 7 could go. This is absolutely untrue! I was the opposite of both of these things, but was still able to: Intern as an interpreter and concierge at a traditional Japanese inn, teach English in India and Japan, volunteer for cultural events and festivals in various countries, and study a short-term language program in France.  Not bad for a busy student on a budget! 

In writing to you all is that there are ways for you to achieve these dreams and really experience the world, regardless of your circumstances. As such, I present my answers to the following common concerns that I heard during my studies; 


Why would I put myself through the trouble when I could just work from home? 

The better question is, why wouldn’t you? You have the rest of your life to work from home and now is the best time to take advantage of the freedom that being a student affords. I recognize that leaving your job or home can be logistically difficult and scary for most people, but there is no better time for it!   

As a student, you have access to funding and support from the university that is unique to this time, and having overseas experiences is a huge standout on any resume! In every interview that I have had, the biggest talking and selling points have always been my time overseas! 

This is even more important if you are a student of languages and cultures- having in country experience will give you more knowledge and learning than any classroom ever will! 


Why Summer break? 

Aside from the clear advantage that having three months to fully settle down and have the opportunity to make real friends and truly immerse yourself, this season offers a wide variety of experiences! 

First of all, it isn’t summer everywhere! Ski resorts from Japan, to Europe, to the United States enjoy an active ski season. They require a high volume of seasonal workers in all areas, such as; ski instruction, hotel maintenance, translation, and more! Why not find a role for you? 

Some parts of the world also hold special events during winter, such as Finland’s famous Santa Claus village and the Sapporo Snow festival! (These opportunities can be found on Government and Tourism board websites, as well as advertised on official Facebook pages) 

In the Southern hemisphere, Summer break means increased tourism and a need for tour guides and hospitality staff with foreign language skills to cater to guests escaping the cold. Heading to New Zealand to work in the tourism industry doesn’t sound like the worst way to spend your break! 

Another important point is that, for those of us that do have to worry about our jobs and accommodation at home, taking part in a shorter-term experience can give you the same valuable experiences and employable edge as a full semester abroad with less stress! Seasonal work programs can often be for a set three-month period, and the Employability office advertises plenty of month-long adventures as well. 


But what if I can’t afford it? 

It’s true that travel and going overseas can be prohibitively expensive! It is also true that there are ways to travel smarter and finance yourself as you go. 

Grants and payments available to students are a great way to take advantage of your time studying! From study abroad programs that can be added to your HECS, to Faculty specific travel and experience grants, there is a lot more financial support than most people are aware of! Feel free to ask your school or faculty for more information. 

Some online platforms that are hugely popular pair travelers on tourist visas to volunteer run organizations. This is a great way to be immersed in a community and see the country in an affordable way! Examples of program activities are: running English language radio stations, taking care of rescue animals, planting flowers in the city center, and supporting schools in need. 

Working Holidays are a great way to get a program to pay for itself! Once you arrive and can settle into your own apartment, rather than tourist accommodation, you will see the difference that makes to your wallet! Although you will not get rich from your time abroad, you should have enough to live comfortably and travel in your free time.  


These technicalities are doing my head in! I don’t want to mess up my visas and get in trouble! 

Although these conditions change and can be difficult to understand, there are a few ways to simplify the process. 

If the whole visa thing is a bit much to consider, New Zealand doesn’t require special visas for Australian citizens and can be a very tempting option. 

Working Holiday Visas do not have to be used for the full time and are often free of cost. Don’t feel afraid to apply just to use it for three or so months! 

Volunteering allows the working holiday experience for those on tourist visas as there is no money involved, you work for food and rent and are often rewarded with excursions or events by the host. Just be sure to screen your choices and make sure that no money is involved to keep above board! These programs are very established in countries like Japan, where my town has a local organization that is well known for its involvement in helping the community through international volunteers! 

I hope this information helps you to finally take off and make the most of it! Good luck! If you'd like to talk more about heading overseas while you study reach out to me on LinkedIn.