Home

 

Getting Experience

- # of # Filtered -

Across Europe In A Caravan!

Q&A with Joana: Traveled Abroad in Many Countries
Share this
Print this
Joana
Traveled Abroad in Many Countries
Her thoughts on Motivation
I decided to tag along with my brother and 30 strangers as he traveled by van through 17 countries in little less than a month.
Her thoughts on Pre-Departure Preparation
The people make the trip. Disagreements are bound to arise if you are traveling with a large group in close proximity. Make sure you are traveling with friends who will be there for you through thick and thin.
Her thoughts on First Impressions
Once we crossed the Romanian border, it seemed like we had gone onto a whole different planet. There were horses in the streets transporting food and people, cows crossing the streets and walking on the sidewalks, as if it was totally normal. For us, it seemed like the twilight zone.
Her thoughts on Pre-Departure Preparation
Start saving up early, whether you are going on a road trip, backpacking or any other travel abroad, planning is a big step.

When and where did you travel abroad? Did you backpack?

Back in 2006 (has it really been that long?!) my brother was taking a eight-seat van and he was road-tripping from Portugal, where we live, to Romania, in the peak of summer, without GPS, and with only a little camping fridge. He soon started to gather up some friends and eventually the head count reached 30. 30 people were driving, camping and, in a way, “living off the land.” So I decided to tag along and traveled by van through 17 countries in little less than a month, with people I had never met in my life.

What made you want to travel abroad?

Aside from the awesome opportunity to see almost all of Europe, I’m always up for a good adventure. I had never been camping and I had hardly been without Internet or a phone for longer than a weekend. I thought this would be a great opportunity to do exactly the opposite of everything I had ever done in my life. I was excited to travel, meet new people, mingle and finally visit all of the European monuments I’d only seen online, to speak several languages and spend some quality time with my brother.

Can you talk about a particular instance that gave you insight into your host culture or that helped you build cross-cultural communication skills?

We had no problem communicating when it came to the travel aspect, finding our way or securing proper camping sites. Once we crossed the Romanian border, though, it seemed like we had gone onto a whole different planet. There were horses in the streets transporting food and people, cows crossing the streets and walking on the sidewalks, as if it was totally normal. For us, it seemed like the twilight zone. Eventually the need to get a camping site became priority so we thought about asking some people on the street where we could find one. Between all of us we spoke seven languages, but alas, none of them was Romanian! We had to mime our intentions and show them the tent… Eventually they gestured for us to follow them. “Success!” we thought. Where we ended up was a gypsy camping site, complete with horses, trailers, fire, and everything you see in the movies!

How did you deal with the cultural divide?

We laughed the whole gypsy camping scene off and ended up staying because we had no other choice on sleeping arrangements, but it was a totally different culture and we were kind of caught off guard. Other than that things were pretty easy to deal with, except for food. Eating was an ordeal. From braised pig ears with cheese (with hair still attached) to meat we couldn’t even identify, I think we might have lost a couple of pounds in those couple of weeks.

What was your return like?

Returning was way easier than going. We were on schedule, the weather was perfect and although we didn’t have a GPS, we had a pretty nice geographic knowledge of Europe so we just kept on following our paper maps. Eventually we started to recognize borders and monuments that we had already gone through and the closer we got to home, the more excited we became. As we neared our home, everyone was dying for an actual bed and a sweet, warm shower!

What is your number one tip for anyone hoping to follow in your footsteps?

Definitely plan! Start saving up early, whether you are going on a road trip, backpacking or any other travel abroad, planning is a big step. From sleeping arrangements (either you’ll camp, hostel or just sleep in the car/train stops) to monuments you’d like to see, how many days you are willing to spend in each place and who you are willing to go with. The people make the trip. Disagreements and small arguments are bound to arise if you are traveling with a large group in close proximity, so make sure you are traveling with friends who will be there for you through thick and thin. If they are not there for you now, they sure won’t be when you lose your ticket or when your wallet gets stolen!

Describe an experience that made a particularly strong impression on you.

Of all the countries I went to I most enjoyed Poland and that includes the Auschwitz concentration camp. People usually take this the wrong way, but what I mean is that I found it really interesting. It’s incredible that we are able to have a guided tour through a part of history that, since I wasn’t even born yet, I didn’t fully understand. It is a dark and distressing visit, but we are privileged to be able to gain insight into how life was back then, the whys and the hows of the Holocaust. It made me watch movies like “Schindler’s List” with very different eyes.

What are your future plans for going abroad and for your career?

Well, now I’ve got the traveling bug. That’s when I understood that international travels and/or working in another country is something I want in my future. I started to learn Mandarin and Russian in college and I have since been going back and forth between Beijing and Lisbon. The fact that I interned at an English magazine while in Beijing last year has also made me realize that communication, media and editing is in my blood and I am not ready to settle for work in a country that does not give English majors much opportunity in the workforce. In Portugal, the entry-level job market still revolves around the intern that fetches coffee opposed to the intern who has a voice.

Advice from MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey, Publisher

Joana has already taken the necessary steps to begin internationalizing her career. She has wisely begun learning not one, but two languages, and is making use of her English language skills by working as a copyeditor in China. We commend Joana on her passion for international adventure and her proactive attitude to building a global career. Working in an English-language context in a foreign country can sometimes lead to cultural isolation. We recommend that anyone who takes an English-language position abroad should make a continuous and conscious effort to engage with the local language and culture outside the office environment, in order to continue building cross-cultural communication skills. Also, be sure to take the time to consider your international work environment: What traits or habits do the local workers display? How do they differ from those in your home country? Being able to describe professional cultural differences is a valuable trait for anyone building an international career.

  • Reading the quotes and all five articles in The North American Identity section will help you start to think about North American workplace culture in an international context.
  • See The All-Important International Elevator Pitch to help get you thinking about the career value of the international skills you’ve built, and how best to discuss them with potential employers.
Joana's Next Steps
Advice from MyWorldAbroad
by the founder of MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey
Want to Have the Same Experience?
In a Rush? Read These Articles First
These carefully chosen articles will lead you to our most important go abroad strategies!
Discover the Career Value of Going Abroad
Get the facts! See surveys and stats linking your experiences abroad to future career success.
Sample Application Documents: See How Others Did It!
Get inspired by actual documents that real students used to apply for internships, volunteer positions and other go abroad experiences.
The World Online
Want to stay in touch with the world? Check out these top (and sometime quirky) links!
Quick Guides! Our Most Popular Go Abroad Topics
View, print or share our easy-to-use guides available in English, French and Spanish.
Do You Have Enough International Experience?
Have you maximized your international experience? Are you ready for the international job search? Find out!
What's Your International IQ?
How much do you really know about living and working abroad? Take this quiz to find out!
Are You Prepared for the International Job Search?
How much do you know about international jobs in your field? Get ready for a targeted job search!
Quizzes: Your Master Scorecard
Check your scores for all quiz categories: international skills, experience & the job search.
Career-Boosting Strategies for International Students Studying in North America
What does it take for an international student to succeed in North America? We’ve got tips to help you thrive!
Earn $25 Gift Card & Submit Your Story From Abroad
Been abroad? Want to share your story? Submit your Q&A today to see your experience online!
Self-Evaluations: Think Analytically About Going Abroad
Keep track of your evolving international skill set before, during and after your international experience. Be ready to apply for jobs in the global economy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to all your questions about MyWorldAbroad by diving into our Frequently Asked Questions section.
Your International Resume & LinkedIn
Write your international resume first, and then create that all-important LinkedIn profile.
Top Tips on Going Abroad & Your Career
Scan our top tips in 40 go abroad subject areas: international skills, getting experience, finding work, and the professions.
International Skills: Be More Than Just a Tourist!
International people have a unique skill set. Learn the terminology and get professional about describing your time abroad.
100+ Career-boosting Strategies While Abroad
Discover enterprising, innovative ideas for how to demonstrate your international skills to future employers.
10204
- # of # Filtered -
  • 81
81
9758
Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
1
9751
A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
2
9769
Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
3
9790
Design And Dining In Korea
4
10851
Tips From Tasmania
5
9807
Fast Friendship In Korea
6
11904
Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
7
10188
Now Or Never In Colombia
8
9792
Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
9
9745
An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
10
9774
Gaga For Ghana!
11
9784
Skill-Building In Bonn
12
9760
Getting In Sync In Nairobi
13
9762
American Freshman In London
14
9789
Loving Life In Lyon
15
9770
Contributing To Change In Ghana
16
9746
A Cross-Cultural Co-Op In West Africa
17
9741
Adapting To Work In Peru
18
9773
Independent In India
19
12058
Architectural Adventures in Australia
20
11996
Daring to Go Solo in Ireland
21
9757
Teaching And Learning In Tanzania
22
9781
A Hospital Helper In Costa Rica
23
9783
Off The Beaten Path In Africa
24
11850
The Warmest Welcome in Guatemala
25
11845
Hospitality and Hosting in the DCR
26
9738
Living For The Moment In Valencia
27
9755
People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru
28
11645
A Love Affair with Shanghai
29
10153
China, South Africa And Beyond!
30
9771
Learning To Love London
31
9766
Short-Term Trips For Long-Term Gain
32
9737
Passionate About Panama
33
9778
Study And Adventure In New Zealand
34
10145
Real Stories And Real People In Mexico
35
9787
A Spring Semester In London
36
10204
Across Europe In A Caravan!
37
10192
Out And About In Paris
38
9740
Sports, Study And Fun In France
39
10157
Changing Course In China
40
11468
Learning While Teaching in Beijing
41
9812
Caring And Career Skills In Belize
42
9780
A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
43
11557
Un stage au Cambodge (Français)
44
11467
Stepping Outside the Box in Sweden!
45
10923
Insight And Education In Korea
46
10163
English Teaching In Eastern Europe
47
10230
Getting Caffeinated In Bolivia
48
9753
A Season In Sweden
49
9779
One Summer, Two Internships!
50
9759
From Cold Feet To Confidence In Germany
51
9777
Into The Wild In Alaska
52
9752
Giving In Guatemala
53
10218
Adaptation And Appreciation In Japan
54
9748
Adventure In The Alps
55
10258
Encountering Cultures Across Europe
56
9772
Learning To Go With The Flow In France
57
9754
Building Memories In India
58
9768
Going Solo In Spain!
59
9767
Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
60
9765
Simpatico In Florence
61
9764
Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern In Rome
62
9763
A Professional Visit To Vietnam
63
9756
Springtime In Spain
64
9788
Business And Pleasure In Australia
65
9775
A Year Of Feeling French
66
9776
Soaking Up Japanese Culture
67
9786
Kids And Culture In Korea
68
9744
Food, Fun And Festivals In Germany
69
9791
Making Contacts Count In The UK
70
9743
Hooked On Volunteering!
71
9799
Getting Settled In Seoul
72
9803
Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
73
9742
Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!
74
9782
Making The Most Of Milano
75
9817
A Bulgarian In England
76
10143
A Warm Welcome In Mexico
77
9785
Motivated In Madagascar
78
9747
Fun And Friends In The Netherlands
79
9750
Host Hospitality In Morocco
80
9761
Communicating Creatively In Spain
81
10204
All Job Boards
436
All NGOs
1566
Au Pair Resources
34
Awards and Grants Resources
30
Business and Finance Job Boards
67
Business Directories
21
Canadian Federal, Provincial and Territorial Government Profiles
64
Canadian Government Resources
26
Children and Families Abroad
21
Country Guides
51
Cross-cultural Skills
101
Engineering Job Boards
58
Engineering Resources
61
Expatriate Networking Sites
20
Foreign Students Working in the US
10
Freelancing Abroad
23
General Job Search
23
Global Education and Social Action
29
Health and Medicine Job Boards
52
Health Career Resources
40
International Associations With Clubs on Campus
32
International Development Career Resources
46
International Internship Job Boards and Advice
50
International Internship Organizations
310
International Internships and Student Programs With Canadian Governments
34
International Internships With the US Government
40
International Job Hunting Resources
13
International Law Careers Resources
95
International Law Job Boards
24
International Studies in the US and Canada
12
International Trade Resources
28
International Volunteer Organizations
493
Internships With the UN and Other IGOs
150
Language Careers
31
Learn a Language
103
Licensed Teacher Abroad Job Boards
27
Licensed Teacher Abroad Resources
13
Loans for Studying Abroad
13
Low-cost Travel
28
NGO Directories
32
NGO Job Boards
41
Re-entry
12
Regional Job Boards
136
Relocating Abroad
19
Resources for International Students Studying in the US or Canada
49
Stories From Abroad
81
Study Abroad Resources
189
Teach English Abroad Job Boards
106
Teach English Abroad Resources
61
Tools for Travelers
39
Top International Blogs
40
Travel Health and Safety
38
UN and Other IGOs
234
UN and Other IGOs Job Boards
18
UN and Other IGOs Resources
17
US Government Profiles
80
US Government Resources
34
Visas and Passports
16
Volunteer Job Boards and Advice
53
Women Living and Working Overseas
15
Working Vacation Resources
57