A 27-year-old woman knew she wanted to return to Europe years after studying the arts in Britain as a young college student.
Rachel Davies decided to do what she did in college. She decided to conduct research. And finding a way to return to Britain and maybe even find a job there was her subject.
Her research led her to an organization that specializes in work/volunteer abroad programs.
British Universities North America Club (BUNAC), a non-profit national student club that’s been around for more than 45 years, offers students the opportunity to work in countries such as Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand or to volunteer in South Africa, Cambodia, or Peru.
Requirements vary depending on what country students want to visit, but most require that an applicant be a current college student or recent graduate. It costs $250 to $595 to apply to the worker programs, and the price to volunteer ranges from $1,235 to $1,740.
A work visa is valid for about six months and students can volunteer for about 12 weeks, depending on where they choose to travel.
Davies last traveled to Britain in 2002 and to New Zealand two years later. BUNAC allowed her to obtain a work permit, a National Insurance Number, equivalent to a Social Security number and a bank account.
While abroad, she worked as a waitress in pubs, temped at an investment bank and was responsible for data entry and filing at an accounting office.
“It’s all about the experience,” Davies said in regard to students trying to find jobs only in their field. “We as Americans want to be good at our jobs, but it should be about the cultural curiosity.”
Even if students end up working in a bar, they should try to meet as many people as they can, Davies said.
Anna Crew, director of BUNAC USA, said it’s not difficult to find a job if students are willing to be flexible.
“It’s incredibly rare if someone didn’t find a job,” Crew said.
BUNAC offers assistance to its participants and most find service jobs in pubs, restaurants, cafes, retail shops, offices and hotels. About 40 percent of travelers found work within the first three days of arriving in Britain, Crew said.
Students are also helped by BUNAC when it comes to finding a place to live.
Davies said she found housing with people from other countries she had met at social events.
When volunteering, students will mostly have a prearranged host family or live in a guest room. BUNAC makes plans for students’ first few nights by arranging for them to stay at an affordable hostel.
During the program, Davies said she was also able to travel to other countries during the weekends such as Belgium, France and Spain.
Her best experiences involved meeting new people, Davies said.
For more information, visit CSUN’s Study Abroad Fair 2007, taking place Wednesday, Oct. 10 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Magnolia Walk West. BUNAC will be there along with other organizations. Interested students can also click on Bunac.org.
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