Service learning programs abroad are a unique blend of studying and volunteering abroad. Through these types of programs, participants will learn through their volunteer work and have supplementary classes to help them understand the industry they're working in.

Since there's such a strong emphasis on learning and working in a particular field with service learning, most program participants are required to have prior knowledge of / experience within this field. Similarly, programs tend to last an entire semester or academic year. If you're still in college, there's also a chance you can receive academic credit for your time abroad.

Photo credit: Defence Images.

Most service learning trips abroad take place in developing countries throughout Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa. However, you could realistically find a service learning project anywhere in the world -- even in your hometown.

That said, given the strong educational focus that a service-learning trip has, it's better to be flexible on the destination and instead think about good places to gain experience in your field of interest.

Are you trying to learn about international healthcare? Try Ghana. Marine biology? Consider Belize or Madagascar. Researching elephants? Head to Sri Lanka or Tanzania. Or maybe you want to learn more about small business development. Try Brazil, Kenya, or Thailand.

Academic credit

Typically, participants on a service learning trip will either be able to receive course credits through their university or count it as part of their research for their senior thesis. While program providers will be able to help guide you through this or have established partnerships with certain universities, you'll be working more closely with your academic advisor to determine if / how you'll get credit for your time.

Time commitment

Unlike volunteer trips, service learning trips tend to last a full semester or academic year. Plan accordingly.


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