WWOOF, which stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is just one option beyond studying abroad to get out and explore the world. I spent my entire junior year last year preparing for study abroad my senior year. My heart was absolutely set on it, and I was ready to follow through with everything. I’d attended orientation in Eugene, sent in my host family preferences, signed up for classes, and had even already checked out the tango dance scene. The only part that didn’t follow through? My finances.
Upon realizing a tad too late that there was no way I could afford the ridiculous fifteen grand to study in Lyon, I looked elsewhere for a way to 1) travel 2) ameliorate my French 3) have some fun. A few classmates and coworkers had done WWOOFing before, and they were the ones to put the bug in my ear. In exchange for approximately 5-6 hours of work per day, 5 days a week, a farm will host you, house you, and feed you. So essentially, you can go stay and work for a host family for the price of a plane ticket and whatever else you’d want to spend your money on for fun.
I chose to come to Velaux, France, just outside of Marseille on the Mediteranean, to work on a horse farm. My hosts have been incredibly gracious and welcoming, and I’ve learned a lot while being here. I still have two weeks left, but time seems to be flying. I’ve learned how to ride horses, how to care for them, the pain of getting stepped on by one and what the electrical fence feels like, and that horses get super cranky if you don’t feed them on time.
It’s been a great experience so far. I plan to do this again, but in Germany or Sweden next time. I’ve had the same advantages of studying abroad in that I’ve gotten much better at my comprehension of French, I’ve met a bunch of new people, and I’ve even been able to take my days off to explore Marseille, Montpellier, and Nice. And not to mention the food and wine… So if you’re strapped for cash but have a desire to go abroad, let me recommend you to WWOOF! If you’re interested in following my adventures as I’m currently working as a WWOOFer, here’s my personal blog: katiegoestofrance.wordpress.com. And if you want to check out what WWOOF is and how to get involved, go here.