Travelling and volunteering abroad is a great opportunity to explore the world, learn about new cultures, and challenge your traditional view of life. But did you know it also has great benefits specifically for psychology students?
Volunteering abroad gives psychology students the chance to put what they learn in the classroom to action, improve job-related skills, and see psychology from an entirely new perspective. So if you are currently a psychology student and you are thinking about volunteering abroad over a summer holiday or before entering the workforce, consider some of the benefits below that come with this amazing opportunity.
Volunteering abroad is truly the experience of a lifetime. There are few times in your life when you are able to completely dedicate yourself and your time to helping others, and being a student is one of those very rare times. Volunteering abroad also gives you the opportunity to travel and experience a culture in a completely unique way. When you volunteer abroad, you get to become fully immersed in a new culture and experience that country in a way other travellers never will. By living and working directly with citizens of a country, you get the chance to experience every part of their culture and learn about different ways of life.
As mentioned above, volunteering abroad gives you the chance to be immersed in a new culture and understand the values and social norms that come with it. This gives psychology students a great opportunity to become aware of different cultural norms and apply that to their work. Having strong cultural awareness can be beneficial with client’s, helping develop an awareness of their cultural values, preferences, characteristics, and circumstances. Being more culturally aware can be helpful when psychologists are working with clients from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Strong cultural awareness helps psychologists adapt to different cultural expectations clients may have and decreases the expectation of psychologists to have clients conform to their own societal norms.
Of course, volunteering abroad is beneficial to other parts of your life in addition to your career. According to a study done by Professor Adam Galinsky from Columbia Business School, people who have lived and worked abroad are more creative than those who have not. The study states that it helps improve cognitive flexibility, which is the mind’s ability to jump between different ideas and a key component of creativity. According to Galinksy, just travelling isn’t enough; he states that “the key, critical process is multicultural engagement, immersion, and adaption”. Luckily, when you volunteer abroad, you get this kind of engagement and immersion.
We all know that entering the job market is intimidating, especially as a newly graduated university student. However, volunteering abroad can benefit you here as well! When working with a psychology based programme, such as the Vocational Impact projects in South Africa, you are able to gain hands-on experience working with counselling and psychiatric services.
Additionally, you will be surrounded with other psychology students and professionals who you will be able to form relationships with that may later lead to professional opportunities. Volunteering can also make you a more competitive job applicant on paper alone, with 63% of HR professionals saying that volunteering abroad makes a candidate stand out.
Psychology as a whole benefits from an awareness of cultural diversity. People’s minds and their behaviour is influenced by social factors, including their country of origin, ethnicity, religion and so on. According to a study published by Stanford University, the past 50 years have seen a heavy focus on European and American cultures in psychological studies. While these studies have lead to many important breakthroughs in the field of psychology, it leads to a lack of information about cultural norms of non-Western societies. These cultural norms can motivate behaviours that psychologists see as abnormal but the client sees as normal or even expected. Having a culturally diverse perspective can help psychologists approach their work differently and be more effective with all clients.
These are just a few of the many benefits that volunteering abroad offers psychology students. Psychology students themselves tout the benefits of having experiences abroad and the impact it has had on their education and career. From professional development to personal improvement, volunteering abroad is sure to have a significant impact on your life and your career that will carry on long after your arrival home.
Would you like to Volunteer with us or know more?
You can read more about Vocational Impact here.
Questions? Would you like to participate? That’s great – feel free to email us or call/whatsapp us on: +44 (0) 7704 129 816
Alternatively, complete an application to begin the process of volunteering, and we’ll be in touch with more details!