Life’s more persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others? ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Many people who are preparing for a long period of volunteering abroad get excited and are looking forward to traveling. After great planning and researching the volunteer is ready to go abroad.
After the volunteer has already gone to see a general practitioner to get immunization shots and other medication; after travel insurance, airline fare has been paid, and if need be they have gotten the required visas to the countries they are going to. The next part is getting ready to leave.
Before the date of departure many travelers are overcome with different emotions. Even the most experience travelers feel these common emotions. Many feel this way because they will be away for a long period of time and they will be by themselves in a new environment. Another reason the volunteers have these feelings is because they want to do well and they go away when you leave home.
The emotions volunteers who are going abroad are:
Anxiety affects everyone and it’s the most common emotion. Travelers usually feel anxious just before they depart. Anxiety is brought about by stress it causes people to feel fear, worry, uneasiness and dread. A couple of ways of handling anxiety is through: changing the volunteers’ mindset, this can be done repeating a phrase or a mantra; the volunteers could talk with their close friends about their feelings, this helps to calm them down; the volunteers could pack early to avoid the emotional toll of doing it, this also gives the volunteer the opportunity to do some last minute shopping; and planning for contingencies that could happen while being abroad.
This is common among first time travelers. Fear is felt differently by most people but the most common symptoms are: dread, pain in the solar plexus, difficulty in breathing and heart racing. Volunteers feel fear due to a number of reasons. The reasons are fear of the unknown; being rejected; failure; hard times; making new friends; living with a host family and success. During the last days of departure volunteers fear that life at home would go on without them and they won’t be able to connect properly with their families and friends. Many people breakdown in tears due to fear just before they leave. The uncertainty and fear of travel combines to make the volunteer really sad. Fortunately there are cures of fear. Any volunteer who starts feeling afraid towards them leaving should: talking to past volunteers; talking to others who are living in the host countries; read books; research the country; and learn about the work they will be doing.
When the volunteers are about to leave they start feeling homesick. They will start missing their family, friends, boyfriends or girlfriends, regular places they visit and their home. Homesickness is brought about by: being exposed to different environments and new people. The main signs and symptoms of homesickness are: Nostalgia, grief, depression, anxiety, topophilia, adjustment disorders, withdrawal, sadness, claustrophobia, and agoraphobia. To take control and overcoming homesickness is by: Keeping in touch with close associates; Carry something from home; trying to keep busy during the last days; looking forward to the new and exciting adventures. Homesickness leaves after some of time while the volunteer is abroad.
Towards the day of departure, the volunteer starts to feel lonely. With all the time they spend with their family and friends, they start to realize it will be a while before they will reunite with them. The volunteer understand that they have little time between them and their family. Even though they are still with them, they start feeling very lonely thinking of their upcoming volunteer abroad vacation. To cure this, the volunteer should try to carry something of sentimental value from their family and friends.
This is the best feeling that comes to most people. The idea to spend some time in another country, meeting new people, eating exotic foods and travelling, overwhelms many travelers. The possibility of going to unchartered territories, witnessing beautiful sunsets, and seeing first hand interesting cultures makes many people want to volunteer abroad. Fortunately there is no cure to excitement. The feeling of excitement doesn’t leave when the volunteer is abroad, the endless opportunities that are out there fuel the fire of excitement!