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5 Incredible Underrated Locations to Spend a Year

5 Incredible Underrated Locations to Spend a Year

One of the best ways to grow as an individual is to travel to a new destination and immerse yourself in a new culture. Learning about different cultural norms and international practices helps broaden your horizons and open your mind to new ways of thinking. Although a simple week-long trip to an exotic destination is still an incredibly impactful experience, fully diving into a culture by spending a year abroad at that destination is the best way to truly get to know a new culture and grow personally. This is why many remote workers and students decide to take a year to work or study abroad.

Some of the more common destinations for work or study abroad include popular tourist locations like France, England, Germany, Japan, and Australia. Although these are all amazing countries that are definitely deserving of a visit, there are several highly underrated locations that are excellent for working or studying abroad that might be more to your liking if you prefer to do things a bit differently.

Here are five incredible yet underrated destinations for working or studying abroad.

1. Slovenia

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    Though it is small, Slovenia is world-renowned for its incredible landscapes and access to amazing outdoor recreational activities. The country is located on the borders of the Alps as well as the Mediterranean which means visitors and locals can enjoy activities like skiing, hiking, rafting, and biking without traveling too far. The country also offers up an intriguing historical background with an abundance of beautiful medieval castles.

    You can only stay in Slovenia for up to three months with your passport alone. This means if you plan to spend a year in the country to work or study, you will need to apply for a visa. This process must be done before you enter the country. Planning ahead to ensure you will be able to stay and work or study legally in the country is an absolutely essential first step in planning your extended stay abroad.

    2. Vietnam

      Vietnam has a lively, young culture full of locals who are focused on forward-facing movement and progress. If you visit the southern half of the country, you can enjoy pleasant temperatures around 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. Working and studying among the incredibly hard working Vietnamese citizens has been explained by former students as an incredible experience and lesson in work ethic and determination. Some amazing sites that must be seen while you travel through Vietnam include the Marble Mountains, Hang Nga’s Guest House, the Phong Nha caves, and Ha Long Bay.

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      You’ll need to apply for a visa in order to stay in this country as you work or study abroad. The process of acquiring a visa to temporarily live in the country of Vietnam is relatively simple. All you need to get started on the process of getting your visa is a passport that is at least six months old and the ability to answer a few simple questions about your plans for your stay.

      3. Norway

        The Norwegian coastal views are easily some of the most beautiful sights to see in our world, but that’s not the only reason this nation makes the list of one of the most underrated destinations to work and study abroad. The country is located between Sweden, Finland, Russia, and Denmark which means you’ll be in relatively close proximity to other major nations if you choose to travel a bit further and experience a few more cultures during your time as an honorary resident of Norway. The country also boasts a rich history that will make your visit all the more interesting and informative.

        To travel to Norway, even for a short stay, a traveler must have a visa. In order to stay in Norway for more than 90 days, an individual must receive a residence permit. These are issued to travelers for study, work, or family visitation purposes.

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        4. South Africa

          South Africa is home to an incredible culture of diverse citizens. With eleven official languages, the country offers up an unparalleled opportunity to interact with locals who enjoy different cultural practices and communication forms.

          Sources also note that there are many work-based programs as well as universities that offer programs for students and remote workers spending their time abroad. Venturing to this country also gives you the opportunity to check off the awesome experience of exploring the African continent from your bucket list. Some of the must-visit areas you should check out during your stay here include Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg.

          The process of obtaining a work visa for South Africa is a bit more complex than that of some other countries. There are multiple steps you must take and additional documents you will need to provide to get cleared to work or study in the country.

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          5. Austria

            If you’re looking to get the full European experience during your time abroad, Austria might just be the ideal location for you to set up shop for a year. The country is bordered by Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Switzerland. This means you’ll have more opportunity to travel a little farther and explore different cultures when you catch a break in your work or studies. Visiting Vienna, the capital of Austria, is an absolute must during your time in the country. Other notable locations to visit might include Innsbruck, Graz, and Hallstatt.

            The process for obtaining a visa to live and work or study in Austria will vary based on the nature of your work in the country. At a minimum you will need to fill out an application, send two passport photos, send copies of your passport with two blank pages, write a cover letter, send your flight itinerary and hotel reservation info, send proof of travel insurance, and provide proof of civil status and sufficient financial means.

            Selecting a destination to work or study abroad is a major decision. After all, you’ll be spending the next year or so living in the country’s climate and interacting with its citizens while picking up on new cultural cues. Aside from some of the obvious choices for spending a year abroad, it also offers up the opportunity for incredible experiences. Choosing one of these underrated locations could be ideal if you’re looking to have a cultural experience that is less focused on tourism and more focused on immersing yourself in the culture.

            Featured Photo Credit: Vietnam Halong Bay, Island On Lake BedLight Sea Dawn Landscape, Rocky Mountains Near Citizens Near Body of Water, Bay Boats Cape Town Cityscape, City Near The Mountain Photography

            Featured photo credit: Pexels via images.pexels.com

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            Last Updated on September 28, 2020

            The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

            The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

            At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

            Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

            One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

            When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

            So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

            Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

            This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

            Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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            When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

            Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

            One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

            Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

            An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

            When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

            Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

            Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

            We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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            By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

            Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

            While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

            I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

            You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

            Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

            When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

            Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

            Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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            Con #2: Less Human Interaction

            One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

            Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

            Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

            This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

            While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

            Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

            Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

            This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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            For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

            Con #4: Unique Distractions

            Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

            For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

            To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

            Final Thoughts

            Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

            We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

            More About Working From Home

            Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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