Brittany Edwardes's blog

On The Brink: The Awesome And Scary Truths Of Gap Years

March 09, 2013

I never really equated the idea of gap years with fear and anxiety until this year, when I graduated from college and began my own. They always seemed like such a great idea- who wouldn't want to take a year off from the grunge and grime of school and work to travel abroad?

I never really realized the uncertainty that went along with leaving safety, support, and the negligible financial security that I had to do something different and a little scary. So, if you're about to take a gap year, I've combined a few truths about the process that I've...

Leaving For An Extended Volunteer Trip: Beyond The Logistics

December 31, 2012

Editor’s note: Brittany is embarking on a yearlong Fulbright program in Malaysia starting this January. Below are tips that have helped her prepare for this trip, as well as prvious ones!

So you’ve got your visa arranged, decided how to pack your bags, and are reasonably sure how to get to your first stop after the airport. Basically, you’re completely prepared to fly into another hemisphere and take on an exciting new volunteer project. Yet, it really feels like you forgot something—it’s time to prepare yourself.

Before you leave for an...

Volunteering In East Africa

December 14, 2012

Currently, East Africa is one of the parts of our world that is most in need for willing, skilled, and hard-working volunteers. With the current famine in the Horn of Africa and major instability in many East African countries, there are many volunteer operations that are currently searching for volunteers so that they can work to meet these needs.

East Africa: Diversity and Culture

This stunning and scenic land, rich with the culture of thousands of years, is an enormous and diverse...

Seven Christmas Gifts For The Needy Volunteer Traveler

December 12, 2012

Christmas for a volunteer can be tough—especially if you’re about to leave on a major trip abroad. It’s likely that you want to pack light, and you might have a hard time explaining to friends and family what exactly you can take along on your trip. As someone who’s volunteered abroad and is about to leave on a trip myself, here is my handy-dandy guide for the needy volunteer! (And remember, volunteer abroad projects can vary wildly, so all of these gifts might not be perfect for the volunteer on your list.)

E-reader

Traveling while volunteering abroad...

Hurdling Through The Difficulties Of Volunteering Abroad

December 10, 2012

Volunteering abroad will likely be one of the best experiences of your life—you’ll meet new people, learn new skills, and be able to push the limits of your worldview. However, volunteering abroad isn’t all fun and games. A number of issues, some of which you can control and some of which you cannot, could pop up at any time. You need to be prepared to work with anything that might happen during your trip—and that's why we're here to help!

How To Deal When Your Volunteer Team Is Difficult

Chances are you won't be able to pick the team you...

Getting Serious About Volunteering Abroad: How To Educate Yourself About The Movement

December 07, 2012

It’s easy to take the volunteer abroad industry at face value. After all, how complicated can it be? You find a cause, find a program, and book your flight, right? Depending on how familiar you are, it may be surprising that the volunteer abroad industry is extremely complex, ripe with discussion and debate as it struggles to provide for the needs of the communities and volunteers. There are field experts, best practices, and even plenty of no-nos. But how do you educate yourself about a field so vast and occasionally nuanced?

The volunteer abroad industry operates in an...

Long-Term Volunteer Abroad Options

November 30, 2012

Volunteering long-term is amazing. Not only are you able to really address the need that you are championing, but you also give yourself some time to gain valuable skills that are both useful to the project and to your resume.

When most people think of long-term volunteering, they almost always think of the Peace Corps as the only way to go. While the Peace Corps is truly a phenomenal experience, there are many other options to go for as to long-term volunteer trips. By long term, I generally mean anywhere between six months to a couple of years, so your trip could vary according to...

Volunteering Abroad in Malaysia

November 26, 2012

This January, I am thrilled to be leaving the U.S. for eleven months to teach English in Malaysia as a recipient of a 2012—2013 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Grant. I have to tell you guys: this grant is my greatest dream come true. With my interests in service learning, education, and Southeast Asia, I am pumped to begin my life in Malaysia as an English teacher and community project organizer.

Of course, one of the first things I did after being awarded my grant (after shouting, dancing, and eating plenty of celebratory ice cream) was research some of Malaysia...

Lost In Translation: Words And Phrases In Other Languages

November 23, 2012

As an English major, it is no secret that I absolutely love words. I love everything about them—from learning new ones to learning entirely new languages. On my travels, I wholly enjoyed exploring both the lands that I was visiting and their unique languages. Often, however, these new languages had not just words that corresponded to those in English, but also those that were difficult—or almost impossible—to define.

Some of them are pretty awesome, so I'll give you some of my list of words that I've found and their rough meanings. Some of these I've encountered personally, and some...

Could Thanksgiving Become A Service Learning Holiday?

November 15, 2012

Each Thanksgiving, I enjoy the same scene—family, football, and tons of food. It's amazing—something I look forward to each year (like my mom's deviled eggs), but I can't help but thinking there's something missing that would make Thanksgiving seriously the best holiday of the bunch. Similar to the way that I've always thought Independence Day could benefit from more use of water guns (Songkran anyone?), I think that Thanksgiving would operate amazingly as a service learning holiday.

It's been a long time since I bought my parents’ story...