Study Abroad

Volunteering and other opportunities

Find your global experience

Discover the perfect opportunity to spend a summer volunteering abroad. We've got a range of programmes to suit your needs and give you the best experience possible. In this section we also share other opportunities.

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Volunteering

Volunteering abroad is a great way to get experience and give something back. We have a range of opportunities on offer.

The providers below are our "preferred providers" meaning that we have assessed their programme and built a relationship with them. We believe that their programmes are unique, offer good value for money and we regularly collect feedback from students to make sure we can confidently recommend the programme to other students.

If you are aware of a programme that you'd like to see added to our list - please contact us via stpabroad@essex.ac.uk.

There are a range of funding opportunities that you can access to support you to volunteer abroad.

You can also claim your Big Essex Award upon successfully completing one of the programmes below.

Volunteering providers

Wildlife Sense - Greece 

Wildlife Sense is a sea turtle research and conservation organisation based on the beautiful island of Kefalonia, Greece. Its mission is to protect endangered sea turtles and their natural habitats, offer a unique learning experience to the volunteers who join its efforts, and promote public awareness.

What will I be doing?

As part of a team, you will survey the beaches of Kefalonia to find and protect sea turtle nests. You will cycle to the beaches in the early morning, walk along the sand looking for fresh turtle nests, then mark, measure, and protect all nests that were laid during the previous night. The primary goal is to protect sea turtle nests against accidental damage and monitor their progress throughout incubation to the hatching stage.

 

How long does the placement last?

Volunteering placements with Wildlife Sense are for two weeks.

Are there any requirements?

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Comfortable riding a bicycle on hilly terrain (3-10km)
  • Attend all training sessions (first 3 days of volunteering period)
  • Communicate effectively in English

Previous experience is not necessary as training will be provided

How much does it cost?

The programme fee starts at €700 (rates are discounted at the start and end of the season)

The programme fee includes airport transfers to and from Kefalonia airport on the programme start/end dates, accommodation in shared apartments, researcher t-shirt, use of bicycles, ongoing training and field leader support.

Remember that you'll also need to factor in:

  • Return flights to Kefalonia, Greece
  • Food costs
  • Personal expenses

When you apply, you'll be asked to pay the full fee within 7 days.

How can I apply?

Applications should be made directly to Wildlife Sense.

Funding opportunities from Essex Abroad

There is funding available to support you to take part in this opportunity. Visit our summer abroad funding pages to find out more.

Big Essex Award

You will be eligible to apply for the Big Essex Award upon successful completion of this programme. This will appear on your transcript when you graduate. Register for the Volunteering Abroad units now.

Think Pacific - Fiji

Think Pacific is a Fijian charity and UK social enterprise, working in formal partnership with the Fijian Government to develop grassroots education, sports, and health projects for young people living in remote villages of Fiji.

Think Pacific is the largest student volunteer program in the South Pacific Islands, guiding hundreds of university students each summer through a life-changing journey. Their programmes are creating hugely positive outcomes in Fiji, facilitating local empowerment and local skills training, increasing jobs, and access to information and expanding opportunities for young Fijians.

How does it work?

On a Think Pacific Expedition, you’ll join a team of approximately 20 like-minded students from all over the UK and take on the immense experience of living in a traditional village and contributing to Fiji’s National Development Plan.

Each project is guided from start to finish by Think Pacific’s Expedition Leaders and each day is busy with dynamic activities and initiatives as you work with Fijian youth groups, children, and rural communities to deliver aims on behalf of the Fijian Ministry of Health and Fijian Ministry of Youth and Sports.

You’ll gain over 120 hours of practical work experience in areas of health, education, sports, and youth development, whilst building your own personal development through challenging team-based activities, remote living, and cultural immersion.

Where could I go?

Think Pacific only operates in Fiji, they are a registered Fijian charity with over 80 staff based in-country. They are the Fiji specialists and believe that it’s their unique focus, knowledge, and understanding of these incredible 330 islands that make their projects so special.

How long do the placements last and what do they involve?

Think Pacific offer programmes for 1 or 2 months.  The programmes are community build, youth empowerment, mental health, sports development and public health (new for 2023!).

You don’t need any specific skills to join the project as full training, learning materials, and daily guidance is provided by the Think Pacific team, but you do need to come with a learning mindset and a desire to understand Fijian culture and traditional lifestyle and throw yourself into a range of new activities and initiatives.

Living in a Fijian homestay is a truly astounding experience. Each team visits a different village to support the government's aims. The warmth and kindness of the local people is profound. You’ll return with a family and a second home in Fiji.

Throughout each project, you’ll achieve the ‘TP Award’ gaining personal growth, professional enhancement, teamwork, and leadership skills and expanding your international experience and cultural intelligence – all the things employers are looking for from young and ambitious graduates.

How much does it cost?

If your application is successful, you'll be asked to pay a non-refundable acceptance fee of £195 which guarantees your place on the program.

The placement fee varies depending on which program you take part in and how long your placement is. As an example, a 4-week placement starts from £1,500 and the estimated average cost of a programme is £2145.

The placement fees cover all briefing, workshops, training, transport, materials, homestay accommodation with three meals a day, activities, and excursions such as jungle treks or waterfall visits and 24-hour support. In addition, you'll also need to factor in finances for flights, visas, and insurance.

When do the placements start and when do I need to apply?

Projects run throughout the year. Summer placements are very popular and can get booked up months in advance, so it's best to get your application in and secure your place as soon as you can.

Interested?

Visit the University of Essex students to Fiji webpages for more details and information on how to apply. Keep an eye out for talks we'll be doing with Think Pacific.

Upcoming information sessions

In person - Wednesday 23 November 2022 at 1:00pm.  Colchester Campus - LTB 2

Remote - Thursday 01 December 2022 at 5:30pm. Via zoom.

What do our students say?

Andre completed a Think Pacific project over summer 2022 and said "I'd recommend a Think Pacific Project to anyone who is looking to challenge themselves and experience a new culture. Going to Fiji for a whole month certainly had it's challenges, but living with a Fijian family and being located in a village who were so welcoming made the transition much easier! We got to experience much of the Fijian culture, which included learning a traditional dance and trying the local food. I was also able to meet people from the UK but also from the other side of the world, and I am so grateful I now have another home away from home!".

Funding opportunities from Essex Abroad

There is funding available to support you to take part in this opportunity. Visit our summer abroad funding pages to find out more.

Big Essex Award

You will be eligible to apply for the Big Essex Award upon successful completion of this programme. This will appear on your transcript when you graduate. Register for the Volunteering Abroad units now. 

UmPhafa - South Africa

UmPhafa is a Private Nature Reserve in South Africa. In collaboration with Colchester Zoo, they offer internships to people who have a passion and an interest to learn about African Wildlife Conservation and Reserve Management. The internships are run by the Reserve Management Team which ensures that interns are mentored by our most senior and experienced staff members. It is a fantastic and rare opportunity to work alongside a team with many years of experience and gain creditable work experience whilst knowing that the contribution is having a direct influence on the wellbeing of the flora and fauna on the reserve.

How does it work?

Essex is partnered with Colchester Zoo to provide this incredible opportunity. You will apply directly to Colchester Zoo and go alongside a group of Essex students. 

What will I be doing?

Over the two weeks, you will be involved in every aspect of the reserve's management, including animal studies, game counts, reserve maintenance, field patrols, data collection, and night drives. You will also have opportunities to explore the local landscape and get immersed in the local culture.

The programme is very physical and students should be aware that they need to be physically fit enough to take part fully.

To find out more visit the UmPhafa website and download their programme pack.

How long does the placement last?

Volunteering placements with UmPhafa run for two weeks, four weeks or more.

How much does it cost?

The contribution fee for a 2 week placement is £800 and includes accommodation, three meals per day, airport transfers to/from Durban, orientation, internet access, and excursions.

Remember that you'll also need to factor in:

  • Return flights to Durban, South Africa (you will be responsible for booking your own flights)
  • Getting to and from the airport in the UK
  • Personal expenses
  • Personal kit (specific clothes and equipment)
  • Vaccinations
  • Visa fee (if applicable)

When does it take place?

Dates take place across the year, so please check the UmPhafa website and choose a date that fits around your studies.

How can I apply?

Applications are open now. To apply, visit the UmPhafa website and download and complete the application form. In your application you should state that you heard about this opportunity through Essex Abroad. Places are offered on a first come first serve basis and you must state you preference for the dates on the application form.

For more information contact wendy@colchesterzoo.org

Funding opportunities from Essex Abroad

There is funding available to support you to take part in this opportunity. Visit our summer abroad funding pages to find out more.

Big Essex Award

You will be eligible to apply for the Big Essex Award upon successful completion of this programme. This will appear on your transcript when you graduate. Register for the Volunteering Abroad units now.

Raleigh International - Costa Rica, Nepal and Tanzania

Raleigh International is a youth-driven organisation supporting a global movement of young people to take action that creates solutions to the world’s most urgent problems.

Raleigh empower young people with the skills, experience, and connections to be leaders of change. One of the ways they do this is through Raleigh Expedition, an international volunteering programme for 17-24 year olds from around the world.

Volunteers on the programme are supported in creating long-lasting change through hands-on projects that help to tackle environmental issues, improve access to water and sanitation facilities and increase access to educational facilities.

Expedition teams work in remote, rural locations alongside local communities – the marginalised ‘last mile’ of development that other charities do not reach.

Raleigh has over 36 years’ experience of delivering responsible, international volunteering programmes. More than 50,000 people from over 100 countries have taken part in their programmes and initiatives.

How does it work?

Raleigh runs summer Expeditions for 4 and 5 weeks in Costa Rica, Nepal and Tanzania. The programmes are ideal for people that want to make a meaningful impact in a short space of time, while exploring a new country and culture. On a Raleigh Expedition, you’ll join a team of like-minded young people (aged 17-24) from all around the world and get involved in the issues you care about.

On Expedition you will: 

  • Work on sustainable projects that create lasting change in remote communities. All project work will contribute to achieving the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs).
  • Work alongside host country volunteers to ensure maximum long term and sustainable impact.
  • Live in a homestay in a rural community and immerse yourself in new cultures.
  • Take part in an exhilarating Adventure Leadership trek which offers the chance to develop leadership, communication and teamworking skills; test your mental strength and resilience, as well as provide time for personal reflection.
  • Be part of an experiential and immersive learning experience that will include team reviews, debriefs, journaling, 1-2-1s, leadership opportunities and active learning sessions.
  • Develop essential teamwork, active citizenship, language exchange, and intercultural skills and knowledge that can benefit you when applying for future jobs.

Where could I go?

Raleigh currently run Expeditions in Costa Rica, Tanzania and Nepal. Raleigh has offices in each country with a team of staff ready to keep you safe and ensure you create maximum impact whilst you volunteer. These countries have been chosen because they have large youth populations and volunteers can make the greatest impact. They face issues relating to water and sanitation and are heavily affected by climate change. Raleigh work in rural areas because the people that live there are often the most marginalised. They tend to have poorer access to basic services, lower education levels and a worse standard of living than those in urban areas. Women and children are often the most disadvantaged.

How long do the placements last?

Raleigh run 4 and 5 week Expeditions over the summer.

How much does it cost?

  • 4 week Expedition: from £2,250
  • 5 week Expedition: from £2,590

As a charity, Raleigh talk about fundraising rather than costs, and encourage everyone to do some fundraising for their Expedition. There are also several Trusts and Foundations that offer funding for young people to engage in international volunteering.

When you sign up for Expedition, you will be assigned a Volunteer Coordinator who will prepare you for your programme and support you with reaching your fundraising target. The fundraising targets will include in-country training, airport transfers, project equipment, health insurance, food, and accommodation. You will need to arrange your flights, visas, and vaccinations. 

When do the placements start and when do I need to apply?

4 and 5 week Expeditions run throughout the summer and are very popular amongst university students. You are advised to apply for these programmes several months in advance to guarantee your place, and to give you sufficient time to fundraise and plan for your trip.

Interested?

Take a look at Raleigh International’s website for more information or join us at our of our Expedition information events to find out more about the programme and the impact you could make volunteering overseas. Or if you’re ready to take action apply now!

Funding opportunities from Essex Abroad

There is funding available to support you to take part in this opportunity. Visit our summer abroad funding pages to find out more.

Big Essex Award

You will be eligible to apply for the Big Essex Award upon successful completion of this programme. This will appear on your transcript when you graduate. Register for the Volunteering Abroad units now.

Student stands on a promenade whilst watching a large turtle swim in a bay
"Essex abroad enabled me to have one of the best experiences I’ve ever had to date; research, conservation and education has never been more fun"
Sasha Murray volunteered with wildlife sense summer 2019, greece
     

Other resources and opportunities

Please note these are external opportunities which have been recommended to us by students and university staff. They have therefore not been assessed in the same way that our preferred partner opportunities have. Make you read and understand all the terms and conditions before making any commitments.

Americamps

Americamps give you the chance to work and earn a salary at one of many American summer camps.  Americamps state they offer the highest salary whilst also providing meals and accommodation whilst you work.

AIESEC

AIESEC is a global youth-led organisation striving to achieve peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential. Together with partner organisations, AIESEC facilitates cross-cultural exchanges in the form of volunteering experiences and professional internships.

BUNAC Summer Camp USA

Summer Camp USA is your chance to spend the summer living, working as a camp counsellor, and travelling in America. Boost your CV with the most fun job you'll ever have while making friends for life, learning new skills, and getting a unique slice of American culture.

Drop'pin

Drop’pin@EURES is the place where companies and organisations can promote and showcase their youth opportunities designed to help young Europeans take their first steps into the labour market.

ERASMUSIntern

ErasmusIntern provides an integrated market place that aims at bringing together internship providers and students seeking an internship opportunity abroad.

Eurodesk

The mission of Eurodesk is to raise awareness among young people on mobility opportunities and to encourage them to become active citizens.  Eurodesk offer a range of volunteering opportunities across Europe, which you can search via their opportunities finder.

European Youth Portal

Information and advice on how to start volunteering. Plus search for opportunities and organisations which are actively looking for volunteers.

International Citizen Service

International Citizen Service (ICS) is a once-in-a-lifetime, UK government-funded programme that brings together young people from the UK and developing countries to volunteer in some of the poorest communities in Africa and Asia. They offer 10 to 12-week placements and, currently, you need to fundraise £800 to take part in a programme.

Essex abroad
Find out more

We run lots of different sessions throughout the year to provide you with essential information about going abroad. From first year and second year briefings to funding chats and country low-downs, we've got it covered.

Get in touch