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Frontier: Kick-Start Your New Year's Resolutions by Volunteering

Date added: Wednesday 21st January 2015


Kick-Start Your New Year’s Resolutions By Volunteering

Lose weight, get a job, take a trip, think positive, and improve your life… We all know the list of New Year’s resolutions that everyone makes and almost no one keeps. Want to make this year different? Volunteering abroad is a great way to fulfil some of your new year’s wishes while making a difference in the world.

Resolution number 1: I will travel, try new foods and discover new cultures


Image courtesy of William

This one seems pretty easy to fulfil. Travelling really just involves buying a plane ticket to somewhere, right? Indeed, it is easy to complete the first, maybe even the second, part of that resolution. However, it could be argued that taking the lonely planet trail from hotel to hotel, interacting only with fellow travellers in the safety of your air conditioned tour bus, is not really discovering a new culture.

A great alternative – or simply addition – to travelling would be participating in a local community project. Teach some kids, build a few houses… even simply travelling on your own, forcing you to get out there and talk to people, will put you in close contact with the locals and their culture.

Resolution number 2: I will be more social and make new friends


Image courtesy of Frontier Madagascar Expedition Management

Again, pretty easy at first glance. All I need to do is head down to the pub and start talking to people. Except that it doesn’t really ever happen this way, and people are more likely to give me an awkward side glance before moving closer to their friends. No, what you really need is a shared experience, something to put people closer together and force them to bond. You could take up a sports class or art lessons, or you could go volunteering.

Volunteering abroad with a group of other like-minded people is a great situation for making new friends: individuals who don’t know each other beforehand, sharing common interests, all having the time of their life in a (probably) beautiful location, spending hours working together everyday hands in the mud (or so to speak)… Your odds at making lifelong friends are better here than at the local community centre, don’t you think?

Resolution number 3: I will make a difference in the world, I will volunteer


Image courtesy of Frontier Madagascar Projects

This one actually is easy. Either you are volunteering, or you are not. Giving a hand to the veterinarian down the road counts as volunteering, by the way, so you don’t need to go any further than that… but you could.

You could volunteer in wildlife conservation, taking care of endangered species. You could work in a healthcare project, bringing medical help and comfort to lesser developed countries. You could help teach English to people who will be eternally grateful for your help in furthering their education.

There are many opportunities for you to volunteer and make a valuable contribution to a project anywhere in the world, bringing your help and expertise where it is most needed and will make the biggest impact.

Resolution number 4: I will work or study harder to improve my career or education


Image courtesy of Frontier Marine Projects

There are two ways to go about fulfilling this resolution: the hard way or the fun way. The hard way: stay at work longer, study longer, take on more responsibilities. The fun way: get a professional qualification while travelling abroad.

There are a range of professional qualifications you can earn by travelling and working abroad for a while. From teaching qualifications like TEFL and BTEC to field related qualifications like PADI and field guide courses, you can put your time abroad to good professional use. You can even earn UCAS points to put on your university application by completing a Certificate of Personal Effectiveness to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

Resolution number 5: I will improve my mental wellbeing and think positive


Image courtesy of Frontier Cameroon Teaching Project

This one’s a toughie, but the more you worry about it the harder it will be to achieve. We often get overstressed in our modern lives, worrying about every little detail of our day and every little aspect of our lives. Sometimes all it takes is a week or two – even just a few days – away from all that to finally let go and breathe.

Travelling abroad to see new horizons, getting away from constant noise and stress and demands to delve into the wilderness is a perfect way to relax. Even if you spend all day working with animals, you’ll find yourself a lot better for it, having forgotten all your mundane worries. And if stress seizes you again after coming home, all you’ll need to do is close your eyes and remember that, really, everything is alright and the world is pretty damn beautiful.

Clearly, volunteering abroad is a perfect way to beat the odds and actually respect all your New Year’s resolutions, so what are you waiting for? Take this opportunity to travel abroad to discover new cultures, volunteer in marine or wildlife conservation, help out a community project, even get qualified! Whatever you do, enjoy 2015 to the fullest to avoid regrets come this time next year!

Marion Thibaudeau is an Online Media Intern for Frontier, a non-profit conservation NGO that helps people plan their gap year with over 300 opportunities to volunteer abroad and take part in adventure travel across the globe. Read more about Frontier on their blog, Into the Wild