The biggest city in Europe (by population) and there was me, flying alone for the first time and making friends on the plane as we were flying to the furthest part of Europe. The excitement and fearlessness disappeared the same minute I stepped in my apartment that was going to be my home for the next 10 weeks. Bit embarrassing to admit that I spent the next 4 days crying my eyes out and counting days since I was supposed to go back but I will let myself off – I was sixteen-year-old who was too proud to admit to anyone that I was not having the best start there. Fortunately, that did not last long – a week into my summer escapade I was having the time of my life, partying in this huge city with my new flatmates that were from all around the world (and also way older than me). In the next upcoming weeks, I travelled around Turkey in my spare time, got to know Istanbul like my hometown, made friends I keep in touch till this day, and broke two margarita glasses in a bar on my 17th birthday. That was necessary to include, yes. Barely got home too. As corny as it sounds, it was indeed one of the best experiences of my life that made moving away from home for uni so much easier.
Although I could go on and on about that summer and the specialness I hold for that city, I am here to recommend few ways to get yourself an experience abroad.
Firstly, unless you are European and can get yourself into Erasmus programme, I would not recommend opting for volunteering since, chances are, you will have to pay for it. It’s shocking but nowadays you can rarely find opportunities in Central America or Asia that will not come with a fee.
Therefore, my best suggestion would be websites like WorkAway, HelpX and WorldPackers. The concept of these websites is to find a host in a country/region/city of your choice and travel there to help them while also having loads of free time and accommodation. If you plan far in advance, you can even find yourself a job in a hostel or a surfing camp for the summer and get paid for it. The only catch is that you have to pay to register but it is a small investment to your amazing summer abroad that thousands of people swear by.
Lastly, look through websites of hotels in summer destinations like Greece, Cyprus, Spain or Portugal. Most likely they will have vacancies for hotel staff and will provide accommodation and meals during work hours. So you can not only save up during the summer but also live in a different country and travel in your free time.