Going Green Abroad

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Are you excited to explore the world but worried about how your travels abroad might impact the environment? If so, this is the right blog for you! In response to the overwhelming global climate crisis, Global Experiences (GE) is pleased to make Sustainability a key priority when considering organizational, operational, and programming decisions. We understand that the only way to effectively combat this crisis and mitigate the effects of climate change is to drastically reduce our environmental impact. Therefore, Global Experiences, part of the AIFS Abroad family, has committed to reaching carbon neutrality by the year 2025. You can read more about the Green Initiative on our website. While this is a super exciting initiative for GE, we also want to provide resources to interns to improve sustainable practices during their travels. Below are some tips to follow during your internship abroad experience, to reduce your carbon footprint.  

Reusable water bottles, coffee cups, and grocery bags   

WhatsApp Image 2022-06-09 at 9.18.55 AMIt’s super important to stay hydrated while you are traveling, but you can find sources of clean drinking water other than plastic or disposable water bottles. Reusable water bottles are great to have on hand during your internship experience. Check to see if water is potable in your area, and you can refill from a tap or water fountain. Not only are you avoiding single use plastics, you are also helping your wallet by not buying bottled water! If you are anything like me, I cannot get through my day without a cup of coffee in the morning. Try out reusable coffee cups to limit waste. Big retailers like Starbucks, will even discount your coffee by bringing in a reusable cup. Instead of getting plastic grocery bags when you check out at the market, bring your own reusable bags. Some countries do tax plastic bags, so byob can also help your budget.


Donate, donate, donate! 


Consider donating some of your things as you end your internship placement. Some of us are guilty, myself included, of overpacking for a trip. If you have shampoo, or other toiletries leftover, think about leaving those with your location coordinator so other interns can use it. Did you bring a shirt that you haven’t worn for five years with you, just in case? Consider leaving it for future interns or chat with your location coordinator about local organizations in need of donations.  

 Walk, bike, or use public transportation  

Alexandra Duron Milan Duomo CathedralOne of my favorite parts of study abroad was exploring and walking around the town and strolling through my campus. Make it a point to walk to your internship if you can. You may see some new sights that you might not notice otherwise! In my opinion, it’s one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culture. If you are interning abroad in a larger city, sometimes walking may not always be a possibility. Consider using public transportation instead.  It may also be worth researching the cost of bike rentals in your area. If using a car is necessary, try carpooling with friends to reduce emissions.


Buy locally & secondhand  

When grocery shopping, think about buying locally grown produce and snacks. Try out a local farmers market or food stand, this is a great way to soak up local culture and go green. If you’re going to eat out, find a restaurant or food truck that’s focused on sustainable food sourcing. If there are items you’ve forgotten at home that you truly need, like a winter jacket when you’re interning abroad in a cold climate in January, consider buying secondhand items. You can find some treasures through local listings or thrift shops. 


Participate in an environmentally focused internship 

At Global Experiences, we are passionate about building environmental education into all our programs, exposing participants to best practices in host countries and providing incentives and tools to help reduce each participant’s environmental footprint. With an environmental science internship, you’ll learn about environmental initiatives and activities all while being in an international work environment. Being part of a progressive career field like environmental science will give interns a variety of tasks in a wide range of settings. Are you more interested in the business or marketing side of environmental causes? You could have the opportunity to reach out to media outlets, organizations, individuals, and important decisions makers to gain their support for environmental causes or organizations. Have a look at our sample list of placements and locations on the Global Experiences website, to have a better understanding of what all an international environmental internship can offer. Please note all placements are subject to experience level, academic background, and your interview with the employer. 

While there are many ways to reduce your environmental impact abroad, I hope these tips will be a good starting point for you. Make sure to reduce waste, do your best to use local options, and try to walk or use public transportation whenever possible. Global Experiences is continuing to make changes to our programs and procedures to be as sustainable as possible. We hope you will join us in doing your part to stay green abroad!  


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