The Make It or Break It Trip of a Lifetime: A look ahead to Prague 2016

Since I was a young lad, all I’ve ever wanted to do was move abroad, work abroad, and possibly even bring my family lineage back to Finland. I tell myself ‘It’ll be easy, just graduate with a degree, finish school, … Continue reading

Finding a Job in South Africa! (23.9.2014)

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that I plan on studying abroad for an entire academic year in Cape Town, South Africa beginning next fall. Because of the difference in seasons and the fact that we’re in opposite hemispheres – Virginia and South Africa, our academic school year calendars are reversed, i.e. our fall semester is their spring semester, their summer break is our winter break, and so on so forth. This causes a dilemma because I will essentially have another summer break while there, a three month period in between our semesters. Because I believe it will take away from the experience, I plan on NOT returning to the USA during that break. I’ve been throwing around ideas in my head as to what I could possibly do during those three months, and here’s what I came up with:

1) Housesit

2) Get a job

3) Travel around

4) Become an Au Pair

Of these options, I found “Becoming and Au Pair” to be the most realistic and exciting choice of them all. Becoming and au pair would allow myself to truly embrace the culture of a community by immersing myself IN that culture. Living with a family from that country will show me how locals live, work, and play.

At the beginning of my research, I had no idea how to become an au pair and/or find a job as one. I decided to post on my favorite travel forum, hosted by Nomadic Matt, and ask my fellow travel enthusiasts if they knew any good ways.

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 10.34.09 PMI found that a common response was to check out Of course, I checked it out, and it was perfect! Because I don’t know how many times I would be using my account, it was great not to have to pay for membership. I was able to join and create a profile for free. Of course, upgrades are available, but for my purposes, the standard membership page was suffice. Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 10.32.32 PMThe basic membership page includes places to update information such as age, health concerns, qualifications, dates available, experiences, and strengths and/or weaknesses (which I have none of, of course).  They also have this nifty online “interview” where they have loaded 20 or so pre-scripted questions that you can answer. After completion, you can publish these Q&A’s for your potential employer to read.

The website also has a messaging system, so if anyone is interested in your services, they have the ability to contact you without having to post your personal email for the world to see.

If you are interested in becoming an Au Pair, I most certainly suggest this website. Becoming an Au Pair is more then just a place to live, it’s a way of embracing a culture in a way that I personally find the most interesting…immersion. I hope that as my time frame approaches, I will receive more messages and I can find a family that wants to hire me!

Wish Me Luck! Cheers,


Just The Beginning (8.9.14)

As I’ve alluded to before, I am beginning the process of transforming my dream of studying abroad into a reality! After careful consideration, I have decided to apply for a year abroad in Cape Town, South Africa at the University of the Western Cape.

Why am I telling you? Because I will be taking you all along through the entire journey! From now until the day I depart. This is the first post of many where I will be taking you with me throughout the process of applying, filling out forms, consulting with advisors, and completing various tasks that will ensure a great and successful time while abroad.

Today I made a quick stop by the Center for International Education (CIE), which is located on the 4th floor of Lee Hall. Dr. Sainz, the director of the CIE, helped me plan out my course schedule so I would be sure to fill my major requirements as well as general education requirements.

When registering for classes at your host university, wherever it may be, it is important to make sure the classes you intend to take are pre-approved by the department chair of that division. Don’t worry, it’s a simple task. Inside this nifty folder, that you will receive when you begin the study abroad process, are all the forms you need to get started, including the “UMW Course Approval Form”.

The folder also includes:

     – A complete list of UMW Study Abroad Scholarships

     – An Education Abroad Checklist, which you will fill out over the course of the planning

     – A Course Registration Planning Tool, which you will use to ensure that you are in the right classes upon your arrival BACK to the University of Mary Washington

     – A Global Inquiry/ Experiential Learning Contract that will allow you to earn either one of those          general education requirements while abroad

     – A Request for Study Abroad Financial Aid form to be completed and submitted to Financial Aid

     – A flyer for a pre-approved Travel Insurance company (required while studying abroad)

     – An Information Sheet on transcripts, graduation, and a senior check-sheet

     – A Mail-Forwarding form

     – A Major/Minor Declaration form

I just e-mailed my IES contact and asked her for the syllabi of a few potential classes I would take while in South Africa. They will help convince my professors that the courses at the University of the Western Cape are equivalent to those here at UMW.