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A Guide to Study and Work Abroad for Adults

Once you’ve reached a certain age many global doors begin to close. The most popular options with students such as au pairing, interning, or spending a semester abroad are not usually options for older adults. But there are many alternatives for adults who wish to live abroad. It will require perseverance and flexibility to realize your travel dreams, but the rewards are well worth it.

Study Abroad

Many adults of all ages are taking advantage of language and cultural schools across the globe. These programs offer maximum flexibility without the stress of grades. You can choose to study from one week to several years depending on your personal goals.

Use the resources available online to narrow down your choices. A good starting point is the website or Another option for adults seeking a short study abroad opportunity can be found in your own community. For instance, if you love the opera, call your local opera company and inquire about educational tours. Other organizations to contact are museums and college and university continuing education departments.

Age ranges in adult study abroad programs vary widely. When I studied Italian in Florence, students spanned the ages from college to retirement. If you are concerned about not relating to the other students, ask the school for a student profile.

Teaching English

Teaching English is the most popular profession for those seeking to work abroad. Teachers range in age from recent college graduates to mid-career adventure seekers to retirees living their dreams of seeing the world. Teacher certification courses do not impose many restrictions, though applicants need a command of the English language and usually a bachelor’s degree. Teaching opportunities are plentiful in Asia and South America. Europe has a reputation for being a tougher market, especially for North Americans, since first priority is given to E.U. citizens. But there are success stories and many alternatives to classroom teaching such as freelancing.


One way to navigate the global living waters is to set up your own freelance business. Freelancing offers the most flexible work situation because you can make your own schedule, decline work you don’t want or need, and choose from a wide variety of projects. Freelancing can be done in conjunction with a teaching job or study abroad program. Always check the regulations governing taxes and visas in your chosen country. Setting up a freelance business is a matter of evaluating your experience and expertise, printing business cards, and networking. Your clients can be expats or locals. You can also establish a client base at home and continue to work for those clients abroad. Certain freelance jobs such as writing, consulting, and web design can be done from anywhere.

Teaching English on a freelance basis is another popular option. Post fliers in supermarkets and advertise in the local or university newspaper to find clients. While this option has its downside (students canceling sessions), it may help you extend your stay or provide a supplemental income.

Starting a Business

Those seeking to live abroad long term and who have an entrepreneurial spirit can open a business overseas. A business allows you to draw on your years of professional experience.

Setting up shop overseas takes a lot of research to find gaps in the market. Jo Parfitt found her niche as a global entrepreneur writing books and offering workshops on running a successful business to expats. Parfitt is the author of A Career in Your Suitcase: A Practical Guide to a Career...Anywhere and Expat Entrepreneur. Parfitt says that expats wanting to start a business should “talk to other people and get as big a network and support team as you can right away.”

Monique Wells, the owner of EntrĂ©e to Black Paris, advises budding entrepreneurs to do their research. “Find out not only what is required to run a successful business in terms of potential clients, but also the legal and fiscal implications for being an entrepreneur in the country that you want to work in.”

Overseas Employment

Looking for a “normal” job overseas can be a bit of a challenge depending on the country. Western Europe is notoriously more difficult for non-E.U. citizens. Most employers don’t want to bother with the red tape when they could more easily hire a local. Eastern Europe and Asia aren’t as strict, especially in the area of teaching English. Another hindrance to working as part of the regular economy is the language barrier. Unless you speak the native tongue fluently, opportunities are rare. But there are always exceptions to the rules. The Bunac program is one possibility for adults between the ages of 18 to 35, depending on the country. Bunac assists with work visas in such countries as Australia and New Zealand. This program is good as it has no language barriers and the flexibility to hold a job at any company.

Whichever option you chose, don’t let your age deter your dreams of becoming a global citizen. Identifying your interests and skills is your ticket to an international lifestyle.

For More Info

Transitions Abroad offers many articles and listings for study and work abroad programs on the site.

Travel programs are offered through the University of Wisconsin-Madison Continuing Studies: Educaitonal Travel department. Tours focus on the performing arts, visual arts, and history.

Teaching English

Dave’s ESL Café is an online community for ESL teachers and students.

General Marketplace Jobs

BUNAC helps adults between ages 18 to 35 (depending on the country) work in Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

Related Topics
Educational Travel
International Jobs

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