GeoVisions Blog

How Many Days Can I Volunteer Abroad In [Insert Country] For $1,000?

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Tue, Nov 26, 2013

currency chartI just read an article on The Expeditioner site entitled How Many Days Can I Travel In [Insert Country Here] With $1,000?  It was interesting.  The comments ran from "this is all a load of crap" written by someone who can obviously either spend MUCH more than that or is happy to sleep on a park bench ... to "this is the best thing I've ever seen."

So I do want to type in here that your mileage may vary.

But I used the list to test out pricing on our own programs.  So for example, if I look at the pricing of our programs in France, Italy and Spain, I get a huge savings by going with GeoVisions.  The Expeditioner site said it would take 22 days to blow through $1,000 in the Euro zone.  That's $45.45 per day.  In 22 days you'd have to leave.

On our Conversation Corps France program, you can stay a month for $1,549.  That's $52 a day.  But you can also stay 60-days for $27 a day and 90-days for $19 a day.  On Conversation Corps Spain it will cost only $38/day for 30-days.  Compare that to The Expeditioner's spending of $45 a day.  If you stay with us 60-days, it drops to $19 a day and 90-days will cost $13 a day.

Asia is a good deal for travelers also.  The Expeditioner spent $1,000 in 43 days.  So looking at Conversation Corps Thailand ... we cost $53 a days compared to The Expeditioner at $23 a day.  But when you stay in Thailand 90-days (why would you travel that far to stay only 43 days) the cost goes down to $18 per day.  Still less than The Expeditioner's findings.

Keep in mind also, as you read their article and look at the chart for your favorite country that they built their budget on a room in a hostel each night, street food and minimal transport.

As a member of the Conversation Corps, you have your own private bedroom, 3 home-cooked meals a day, an orientation, and insurance (not covered on the examples in The Expeditioner's findings).

If you're well traveled and you've done a great deal of travel on your own, let us know if you agree with the findings.  No matter how you cut it, if you choose a 90-day GeoVisions program, you're going to spend half as much as if you did it on your own.

Read more of their article and have a look at their chart here.

Tags: Conversation Corps-France, Conversation Corps-Spain, Conversation Corps Thailand, Conversation Corps-Italy, Conversation Corps

Think Traveling or Volunteering Abroad Is Too Expensive? Think Again

Posted by Alexandra LeGrant on Tue, Oct 16, 2012

Every now and then we like to trot out a post that has done really well over the course of the last few months.  And this is one of them.  This particular post has been read 2,220 times since March.  That's 10 reads a day, 7 days a week for the last 228 days.  So, we thought we'd offer it up to those of you who are new or failed to see it before.  One of the best we have ever written.  Thanks to Alexandra, our Social Media Manager here at GeoVisions for writing it.

 

Traveling Fund

How many times have you told yourself or others that you’ll travel abroad once you have saved enough money?  Now, be honest with yourself, how much money have you really saved?

If you are like most people who are scraping by to pay their bills and are thankful even for a boss from hell just to get a paycheck every two weeks, you probably haven’t saved a penny for your travel the world dream fund.

Take a look at these links to see how some other people made their traveling dreams a reality and how to move past your "it’s too expensive" thoughts that might be holding you back.

Volunteer Forever. This website is amazing and allows you to fund your dreams and bring them to reality. Crowd funding for traveling abroad made easy and straight forward.

http://bit.ly/f0Q5D5. This article tells you why now is the best to time volunteer abroad and take advantage of the financial crisis. There are 5 specific reasons you could probably relate to.

http://bit.ly/gtAoBo. Read this blog entry from a person who spent three years traveling abroad and actually saved money by doing so. It is possible!

http://bit.ly/eJXVTA. Why you should quit your job and travel around the world… Don’t let your excuses hold you back from what you want out of YOUR life.    

The truth is, you could actually save yourself money by traveling abroad without much financial preparation. It sounds like a crazy idea, but when you think about how much you spend every week (gas, coffee, lunch with a co-worker, dry cleaning, take-out dinners, entertainment, etc) it really adds up, and you could end up spending $200-$300 a week indulging in your day-to-day expenses and hardly blink an eye.

Add this on top of rent or a mortgage, utilities, car loan, gym fee, phone bill, and cable you are probably spending at least $2,000 a month if not more just to live. Now, maybe you have roommates and live frugally, and actually get by on a lot less than that amount, but I’m going to tell you just how much it would cost you to travel or volunteer abroad and I guarantee the numbers will surprise you…  overflowing piggy bank

1. Sell your car or have a friend or family member drive it and help you out with car payments while you are abroad, it’s a win/win! Cha-ching! Save yourself on rent by subletting your place while you travel. It is considerably less to live with a host family abroad, and with GeoVisions it is included in your program fee along with most of your meals. Entertainment while abroad can be as simple as visiting and touring local sites (often times free), and depending on where you are traveling you can get a meal for just a few dollars (that’s less than what you would pay for your daily latte at Starbucks).  Be sure to steer clear of touristy traps for day trips and rentals, and if you are staying with a host family you should have no problem getting the ‘local’ going rate and finding out where the best deals are.

2. If you’re looking for some extra cash before you travel, have a yard/garage sale and get rid of your clutter at the same time. If you have a lot of ‘stuff’ not only will this result in some extra cash (possibly a few weeks worth of spending money while abroad) but when you come back home you’ll already have your spring cleaning done!

Where to next?3. Traveling the world can be great, but why not enhance your resume by volunteering or working abroad? With GeoVisions, you have the option to participate in Au Pair programs (the placement fee for most is only $850), apply for a PAID internship, or live with a family and teach them conversational English, no teaching experience required. The time you spend on these projects will give you unique experience that you can use when you come home to get a better job than the one you have now! If you don’t want to make a long- term commitment, GeoVisions offers a two-week conversation corps program in Italy for $755 and Spain for only $715. The program fees usually include your room and board along with extensive health insurance.

So, with just a bit of preparation and getting in the right frame of mind (getting past your hesitations), traveling abroad can be a lot simpler than you probably have thought. Of course, don’t just take my word for it, do some research and ask around and be sure to check out those helpful links at the top of this page. Happy traveling!

Tags: Reasons To Volunteer Abroad, Conversation Corps, The Well Prepared Traveler, Make Something Happen, Volunteering Abroad

Live With A Family In France Blog-French Pressed

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Fri, Sep 28, 2012

From French Pressed BlogJody Fox is one of our Au Pairs in France.  When we see a blog by one of our participants, we like to point people in that direction.  There are testimonials and there are online reviews.  In fact, we use Rate My Study Abroad for online reviews and you can read online reviews about GeoVisions' Au Pair in France program here.

But reading an active participant's Blog about the actual experience as it's happening is the very best you can do.  It's live, it's relevant and it is much more complete than an online review.

We have volunteer abroad Blogs you can read here.

So back to Jody Fox.  She has a very cool Blog running right now called French Pressed.  If you want to know what it's like to be an Au Pair in France with GeoVisions, look no further.  Check out her Blog.

Are we missing any Blogs?  Do you have one running we haven't mentioned or do you know of one we should read?  Let us know in the comments section, please.

Tags: Conversation Corps, Volunteer Blogs, Volunteering Abroad

Volunteer Abroad: Do You Fit In?

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Tue, Jul 24, 2012

A GeoVisions volunteer abroad with her host brother and sisterYesterday I wrote a post about "How I See You." I thought I would follow up that post with actual comments from GeoVisions' volunteers in-country right now. I hope you'll read some of them to see if you think you fit in.

After about 3 days from arriving at your project or host family, we send an email asking if you arrived safely, how you're feeling, where you are located and how we can get in touch with you. About 2 weeks later, we ask you to write back in 25 words or less describing your situation.

Most people come to us realizing they have offered to volunteer abroad and that they are not on a tour. It isn't GeoVisions' responsibility to make sure you're enjoying yourself. That's all on you. What we provide at GeoVisions is a project that needs your help (no matter how little or how much) and a place to live along with food and great insurance. What you do on your own is totally up to you.

I'm amazed (only infrequently) how many people expect to be pampered and how many people expect that they are going to go change the world. If you are one of those types of people, don't volunteer abroad with GeoVisions. Please…go bother one of our competitors and make their lives miserable.

To see if you fit in, here are actual comments from our volunteers abroad right now. If you like what you see, you fit in!

All of these comments are coming from the right place. These volunteers aren't writing about themselves and what they had hoped to do or change. The are writing about the experience and what it takes to be of service abroad. They certainly do fit in.

So in 25 words or less (OK...a few don't know how to count) here are some of the "fitters-in" at GeoVisions.

Enjoy!

I would say it is very hard, adjusting, which I am still doing. But worth it to see another part of the world. I have had my good and bad moments but am just waiting till i settle in more and feel more comfortable here. I have barely slept here which is not a good thing at all, and sometimes feel isolated by the language barrier.

My programme, working with two children, 4 and 9, is very hands on and one to one. The whole family are getting involved in helping me with Spanish and practicing sentences in English together. They are a very busy family so there are always things to write and draw about.

It's a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and learn about a different culture.

Two volunteers in PeruAn amazing experience, a great way to experience local life in Spain! Great people, fun kids and inspiring culture.

4 hours a day teaching English at the Camp. Challenging, but fun. A lot of free time for fun and travels. Provided with a safety net that feels like family.

I could have not asked for a better family to be paired with. They are all so welcoming and loving; I feel as though I am really a part in their family. This experience has been splendid in every way.

This is very challenging, but it is a challenge worth taking! Although I am spending a lot of time helping the family with their English, I have had plenty of time to explore.

It is an exciting adventure. You are truly surrounded by the culture and learn the life style and customs of the family you work with.

I love it!!! I'm having the time of my life plus I got placed with an amazing family. I can't believe it's almost one month :(

It is a life changing experience. It opens your eyes to the astonishing similarities to be found in every couture and the captivating differences that make each nation, each region and city, unique.

It's been a lot of fun. I've gotten to know a lot of the people in the town I'm staying in and the family really well. I wish I was traveling more but there is still time.

A very different experience, a cultural adventure, language immersion, lots of childcare, lots of opportunities to meet other young foreigners.

It is fun and difficult at the same time. Every day is different. It takes a lot of patience.

Very interesting exchange of culture and language. You will make a lot of new friends.

Everything has been going very well in Jordan. I've been learning a lot. Culture shock wasn't too bad. The main difference is the food, but I acclimated quickly.

Colombia is awesome, food, weather, and people are extremely friendly. The weather has been in the high 70's early 80's. I'm glad I made the switch from Bogota to Quimbaya. I'm surrounded by coffee and banana farms. Have a good day.

teaching in a classroom in ChinaMoscow is such a fascinating city! It's fast-paced, huge, with tons of people and things to see. I'll find myself wandering the city in random directions just because I'm bound to find interesting places. The language barrier can be tricky sometimes, but that is mostly just because I hate to be such a foreigner, I try and fit in as much as possible.

This has been the hardest thing I've ever done. I have grown and learned copiously and feel that I have been changed and strengthened tremendously by this experience.

No matter what part of the world you are from, good people are good people. Despite any of our differing beliefs, my host family and I have found common ground and really care about each other.

A great opportunity to connect with a different culture while giving something back.

I love my experience in Costa Rica. Words cannot even explain how much I have gained from it. I have grown in confidence so much, it has been absolutely amazing. I am forever recommending it to my friends or random people even.

Tags: Conversation Partner, Reasons To Volunteer Abroad, Conversation Corps, Thank You To Our Volunteers, Volunteering Abroad

Teaching Abroad: How I See You

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Jul 23, 2012

Teach English in ThailandSo here you are at GeoVisions.

We have some really nice people on staff here and they are probably making you feel special. Let's face it…you are special. Our staff will bend over backwards to make sure you know how special you are and how important you are to us and to your new hosts abroad.

And then there's me. Those really nice people here at GeoVisions try to make sure I rarely get on the telephone. Sometimes I sneak in when everyone's gone and talk to participants. I just got off the telephone with someone who is headed abroad to teach for a year. I called her to make sure she knew what she was getting herself into. I was a teacher many years ago and this person who leaves fairly soon to teach abroad had been teaching here in the U.S. for a few years. But heading off to Asia for a year to teach English requires a highly flexible person. Someone who can wing it, can write lesson plans onsite and not bring them when they fly out. Someone who can adapt to some very strange living accommodations and faculty colleagues and enjoy themselves.

During this 15 minute conversation, she said, "You're not making me feel very comfortable. "And my response was, "That's not my job. I don't care if you're comfortable. I care if you're flexible." And of course that's why the staff here keep me away from telephones. I'm often referred to as Mr. Grumpy.

You're a teacher. You're special. You're going away for a year to teach abroad and you're leaving your family and friends behind. You're adventurous. This is a year you will never forget. You have a great deal of patience and it isn't enough for you to stand and deliver. You want to roll up your sleeves and be involved in another culture.

English teachers arriving Bangkok.You're a volunteer. You're a hero. You're going to volunteer abroad your time and talents. You don't need to stay home and be pampered. You are walking to the beat of a different drummer and you're open to exchanging your culture with another and open to many different experiences.

You're an Au Pair. You're going to care for someone else's children as they were your own. You are headed to do a job I'd never consider doing…E V E R. In some cases you'll have to take language courses and you'll have to learn a new language and drive where you don't fully understand all the signs. And above all, you'll have the safety of your host brothers and sisters paramount…nothing will be more important. I have no idea how people do this job, and I'm amazed that you cannot wait to get started.

How much fire do you have inside to listen and learn? I know, I know. Your project is to tutor or teach. But I know you'll never allow yourself to go and just simply do that task. You're going to listen and you're going to soak up everything your new country and your new hosts throw at you.

I see you as someone who will bring more back than you take with you. After a few weeks in-country, you will hear from us and one of the questions we'll ask is, "In 25 words or less, how would you describe your program to someone?"

Here are a few answers we received last week:

A great opportunity to be a part of someone's family.

It is fun and difficult at the same time. Every day is different. It takes a lot of patience.

A very different experience, a cultural adventure, language immersion, lots of childcare, lots of opportunities to meet other young foreigners.

It is a life changing experience. It opens your eyes to the astonishing similarities to be found in every couture and the captivating differences that make each nation, each region and city, unique.

Thank you for volunteering to teach English in Asia.It is an exciting adventure. You are truly surrounded by the culture and learn the life style and customs of the family you work with.

This is very challenging, but it is a challenge worth taking!

It's a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and learn about a different culture.

I just didn't see anyone there write about what they are teaching other people. Everything I read indicated all these tutors and teachers are learning. That's how I see you. That is why you will be successful.

Now…who wants a phone call from Mr. Grumpy?

Tags: Conversation Partner, Teach Abroad, Au Pair, Conversation Corps, Make Something Happen, Volunteering Abroad

Another Volunteer Blog In Spain

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Mar 12, 2012
Kayla and her two new studentsKayla Walnock arrived recently in Madrid on Conversation Corps-Spain.  As a member of the GeoVisions Community Pages, she is writing a great travel journal about her experiences.  If you're thinking about Conversation Corps (or Spain--or both) give this travel journal a good read.

Kayla is having a great time.  You absolutely have to look at the photos of the two girls Kayla is tutoring (sample on the left).  When you open the most recent journal entry, look over on the right under the map.  As I write this, there are 6 photos.  As you look through the photos, you can see Kayla is having a great time and she has some great students in those two young girls.  Very precocious, I think!

We love to share travel Blogs and travel journals from our volunteers and teachers.  Just click here.  We have a lot of them to share with you!

We hope you will have a look, maybe subscribe to Kayla's pages and find out if Conversation Corps is for you!  We hope so.

Tags: Conversation Corps-Spain, Conversation Corps, Volunteer Blogs

Conversation Partner Italy-Two Volunteer Blogs

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Feb 27, 2012

CP ItalyRobin Vaughn is an amazing cook, an amazing teacher and an amazing traveler. GeoVisions is so lucky to have Robin in Italy right now living with a host family and helping Italian teachers there teach English. Robin will be in Italy February, March and April.

Robin is very active with her host family. She keeps them busy…and they keep her busy as well. She's a great teacher. She also writes a travel journal on the GeoVisions Community Pages. You want to click the link below that will take you to her travel journal and read her entries and look at her photos (and cartoons).

In addition to that she writes a cooking Blog, A Bird In The Kitchen. I have subscribed to the cooking Blog because the recipes for Italian cooking (which she's doing onsite all the time) are amazing and the photographs capture all Robin is experiencing these 3 months.

If you're interested to know how you can use the GeoVisions Community Pages, Robin has it going on. You can learn a lot looking through her journal pages.

If you're interested in Italian wine and food…check out that food Blog of hers.  I'm sure you'll be a subscriber, just like me.

A bird in the italian kitchen blog logoAnd if you're interested in Conversation Corps-Italy or the program Robin is on, Conversation Partner-Italy…her two Blogs will help you make up your mind to choose one and put your butt in an airline seat.

And if you're interested in one of our THREE summer camps, being a counselor and teaching some English during camp activities…Robin is in the Marche region, exactly where two of the three camps are located.

Italian Summer Camp
This camp is on the ocean, you live in an apartment and bicycle to the camp each day.  You can view a video of last year's camp experience right here.

Italian Summer Camp-Macerata
This camp is a 30-minute train ride to the beach.  You live in student accommodations or shared apartments.

Coming Soon:  Italian Summer Camp-Naples

Robin's two Blogs are model Blogs and you can't go wrong taking a few minutes to look them over. We hope you'll be in touch and let us help you get to Italy.  Perhaps you'll add to Robin's recipes.  Or you'll start a painting Blog...or you might write your first novel.

Tags: Conversation Partner, Conversation Corps-Italy, Teacher Blogs, Conversation Corps, Italy, Volunteer Blogs, Volunteering Abroad

Some Real Ideas To "Help Me Teach" Abroad

Posted by Global Work And Service Team on Thu, Jan 26, 2012

Language textGuest Post by
Betsy Bruneau
Help Me Teach Desk
GeoVisions

So, you are traveling to a new country to teach conversational English as a member of the Conversation Corps or as a Conversation Partner! What an opportunity. If you don't already know, soon you will learn where you are staying and the age of your "students." Now it’s just a matter of figuring out what to cover while you are there.

My name is Betsy Bruneau and I am a teacher of English language learners. I have worked with children of every age and have also taught adult education. And I also run the Help Me Teach desk here at GeoVisions. I'm here to help you with very particular issues. All of the help I provide during your program is specific to your own situation. Feel free to email me anytime.

I can honestly say that there are advantages for teaching every age. Even if you are working with students in a capacity that you did not expect, chances are you can find your niche with them. Remember to have fun. This is an adventure in teaching conversational English so it is less formal and the possibilities are endless.

If you are teaching children of any age, be sure to check with their parents and guardians to determine what they expect from your stay. You can do that even before you depart your home country. Often, they will want you to work on a specific skill in order to prepare their children for an upcoming task, test or visit to an English speaking area. If you are teaching adults, the same applies. Several of the tutors who are teaching adults right now are preparing them for a component of their job or an upcoming test.

The first couple of days may be awkward but try to imagine yourself welcoming a tutor into your own home. They will want to know a lot about you. So bring some personal affects with you. They will, most likely, be interested in seeing pictures of your family and friends. They will also want to see the region of the country from where you come. Bring postcards of places you have visited or pictures of your hometown. Bring American magazines and newspapers. If you are teaching teenagers, they would probably love to see more about how American or Canadian teenagers live. If they are interested in sports, music, art, etc., bring media that
focuses on that area.

a tutor a spainBe prepared to answer questions about your life here. They may want to know about government or politics. They may want to know what the fascination is with American sports or the Kardashians. There are so many possibilities. Be sure to brush up on the goings on of the country that you will be visiting. This will allow for some back and forth between you and your family and also reassure them that you are interested in their lives and their country.

A few years ago my family hosted a sixteen year old from Germany for the academic year. We spent the first couple of days just finding out about each other and sharing pictures. We talked about favorite meals, pastimes, hobbies, etc. We talked about the expectations that we had of each other. It was not awkward because we didn’t rush into anything. Try to take your host family’s lead. And when you arrive, arrive prepared to show your hosts that you are serious about this venture.

Most of all, have fun.

I hope to be hearing from you when you're on your project if you need any help.  And if you want to reach out before you depart, do that too.  I spend a lot of my time working with GeoVisions participants even before they leave for their assignment.  Don't be shy!

Tags: Conversation Partner, Conversation Corps, Help Me Teach

Wandering Whim--A Volunteer Abroad Blog Worth Blogging About

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Jan 18, 2012

Apple computer with a geovisions blog postIt isn't often I'm at a loss for words.  I can find a subject to write about easily.  And I've no problem wading into a controversial issue.  But when Sara in our office introduced me to Lawrence Mattingly's Blog about his trips with GeoVisions (yes, trips as in plural) I was speechless.  You just have to see this.

First of all, let me just humbly say that when an organization provides a "big ticket item" we don't expect people to come back again and again.  Most of our volnteers and teachers use GeoVisions as a spring board to help them reach goals.  They do magnificently.  We don't see them again.

Lawrence went to the Galapagos with us.  And now he's in Chile with GeoVisions.  When our volunteers and teachers choose GeoVisions, we listen.  When someone like Lawrence goes twice and then writes the kind of Blog he's writing, we sit straight up.

I'm in Washington, DC right now on a business trip.  And I'm meeting one of our volunteers today who will be leaving for China soon.  We like to meet as many volunteers and teachers as possible.  It helps us understand their goals, their needs, their drive.  I'm going to learn a lot this afternoon from Martin, who is leaving soon for China for 6 months to be a volunteer teacher.  Wow.  So I could go on and on about the Martins and Lawrences of the world.

Instead, I'll head out to the station and provide a link to Lawrence's Blog.  Hundreds of photos, an incredible job, I'm so envious of his Blogging ability and when you read some of his posts and find out more about Lawrence and also realize he's on his 2nd volunteer journey, you will be blown away.  His Blog is not like others you have seen.

So, I'd like to introduce Lawrence Mattingly to you, and his blog Wandering Whim.  Please click the link, sit back and enjoy.

Tags: Conversation Corps, Volunteer Blogs, Volunteering Abroad, Conversation Partner-Ecuador, Galapagos

Featured Participant Journal: Conversation Corps Spain

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Jan 09, 2012
Photo from Conversation Corps Spain

Scott has just arrived in Spain for GeoVisions' Conversation Corps Spain program.  He'll be in Spain for 2 months tutoring children and living with a host family.

As you can see from Scott's journal entry this past weekend, he has fallen in love.  Well, like everyone else, he has fallen in love with the food in Spain.

We are thrilled Scott is already writing his online journal with GeoVisions' Community Pages, and he's only been in Spain 3 days!  We can't wait for him to write more when he actually starts his lessons with the children...which in fact happens today.  "The kids go back to school tomorrow, which means I also start teaching my classes! I'm pretty excited to do this. I looked through their English books today, and its basically the same as my Spanish books have been, just in English."

Until then, Scott says, "So yeah, thats what I have been up to. Eating, drinking wine, playing soccer, and playing video games. Life is great."

If you're interested in reaching out to Scott, here in the link to his online journal.  Even if you're not a member of the Community Pages, you can still "shout out" to him.  And we'll stay in touch with Scott because we're eager to know how it goes when the kids come home from school.

Tags: Conversation Corps-Spain, Conversation Corps, Volunteer Blogs, Volunteering Abroad