Top 5 Things To Consider Before Volunteering Abroad

Volunteering abroad can be a rewarding and enriching experience, but it’s important to prepare and educate yourself before embarking on such a journey. Here are the top five things you need to know before volunteering abroad:

1. Research the organization and program thoroughly:

Before committing to a volunteer program, do your research on the organization and the program you’ll be participating in. If you are interested in joining a Service Learning Trip with MEDLIFE, it is important to look into the type of SLT that would be best suited for you. For example, if you are interested in or studying dentistry, we have Dental SLTs specifically catered to developing patient care skills and teaching of proper oral hygiene.

dental students volunteer abroad

2. Consider the cultural differences:

It’s important to be aware of cultural differences and to respect the customs and traditions of the community you’ll be working in. Take the time to learn about the local customs, language, and cultural norms before you arrive. Being aware of cultural differences will help you to be more effective in your volunteer work and avoid misunderstandings.

3. Prepare for the physical and emotional challenges:

Volunteering abroad can be physically and emotionally demanding, so it’s important to prepare yourself. Make sure you’re physically fit and ready for the challenges of the program, and mentally prepared to work in a new environment. It’s also important to be aware of the potential emotional challenges of volunteering abroad, such as culture shock and homesickness. To get to you started, here is a list of books and documentaries for you to read and watch before joining a MEDLIFE Service Learning Trip.

4. Be aware of the costs involved:

Volunteering abroad typically costs money, so it is important to be aware of the prices involved. Look for programs that are transparent about their fees and expenses, and make sure you understand what is included in the program cost. Consider fundraising or applying for grants/scholarships to help cover the costs.

5. Have realistic expectations:

It’s important to have realistic expectations about what you can achieve as a volunteer abroad. You may not be able to solve all of the problems in the community you’re working in, but you can make a significant difference. Remember that volunteering abroad is a learning experience, and you’ll gain valuable skills and knowledge that you can apply in your career and life in the future.


If you are considering volunteering abroad, we recommend you look into what MEDLIFE has to offer. There are several types of Service Learning Trips available in Costa Rica, Peru, and Ecuador where you can assist low-income communities in accessing quality healthcare, education, and development. Register today!


Hear it From MEDLIFErs

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Reya Seby
Western University

This trip motivated me more to pursue a career in the healthcare field so that I can use my resources to help those who need it the most, similar to MEDLIFE’s mission.

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Victoria DiCanio
University of Connecticut

It was most enjoyable to finish the hard work and see how big a difference a group of individuals can make. It was such an amazing experience.

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Anita Woo
University of Toronto

I enjoyed the mobile clinics the most, especially the dental and triage portions. I would definitely recommend a MEDLIFE trip, it was a great experience.

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David Saff
Maclay High School

The most enjoyable part of my trip was hanging out with the amazing group of kids I was with. I would highly recommend a MEDLIFE volunteer trip to others.

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Sydney Sansone
Nova Southeastern University

This trip made everything that I was learning in my public health courses come to life and immersed me in a new culture while also learning about medicine.

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Abygail Youmans
College of Charleston

Being involved with MEDLIFE is not like joining another club - its bigger than that. It is about joining a movement that seeks to help change people’s quality of life for forever.

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Emi Hofmann
University of Central Florida

Not only was I able to participate in a week long Mobile Clinic, shadowing doctors of all types of specialties including pharmacy, dentistry, gynecology, and more, but I was also able to learn about the culture and visit incredible places.

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Julian Takagi-Stewart
University of Toronto

One thing that I really loved about this trip was that MEDLIFE made sure that the volunteers got an understanding of the complexity of issues that lead to underprivileged people in communities outside of the main city

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Hannah Van Hofwegen
University of Ottawa

Whether it was basketball with the local kids, assisting the doctors, talking with families, building washrooms, holding babies, or spending time with the people who were on the SLT with me, this was an amazing opportunity that I would do over and over again.

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Isabelle Holt
Cornell University

I loved learning about the patients MEDLIFE has followed and how they offer real help to people with chronic/urgent conditions. It is amazing how the organization formed real connections with the communities.

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Valerie Lindeborg

Our family had the privilege of participating in multiple trips with Nick [founder] and his amazing staff. Their expertise made the trips unforgettable while instilling in my boys the fundamentals of good character: selflessness, compassion, and empathy.

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Harry Vildibill
University of Georgia

As an aspiring physician, MEDLIFE motivated me to further continue my goal of becoming a doctor. In fact, I enjoyed the Tanzania Service Learning Trip so much that I decided to go on another trip to Cusco, Peru.