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How to Get an International Degree On a Shoestring

Knowing how much I loved travel, case I considered staying a third year in graduate school to get a specialty in International Social Work. But in the end, sick I couldn’t validate spending $35, salve 000 on tuition, room, and board for something that I could put together myself for far cheaper. Are you one of those people who have considered getting a degree in international relations, international business, international development, or international policy? Let me tell you how to get a real international education…

Out & Around is not only about global LGBT rights. It’s about becoming better global citizens. Traveling through the developing world, Jenni and I can’t help but feel our privilege status in the world due to our educational opportunities and personal freedoms. We were also constantly reminded of our wealth…. if you earn over $25,000 USD a year, you are among the top 10% of richest people in the world. Jenni and I need to use our Supergay powers for good.

Do you also want to earn your own custom designed international degree in a year? Here are top ways to earn your own masters degree to being a good world citizen:

– Subscribe to the Economist magazine. It can seem kind of dense the first run through, but read it cover to cover. I have to admit that as someone who heads straight to celebrity gossip magazines at newsstands, the Economist was not my first choice for airplane reading. But it got easier as I caught onto world events, and it sure came in handy when talking to people while traveling. Find a developing country that most interests you and decide to travel to that destination.

– Provide a micro loan. Lend $100 to someone in that destination country via a micro-financing organization like For her birthday, I gave Jenni a gift certificate for Kiva. She loaned the money to a woman in Cambodia who was starting a noodle stand. You’ll be amazed when your loan gets repaid back.

– Become familiar with the language of your destination country. It may have been high school since your last foreign language class, but you can easily pick up the basics without a big investment. For example, Coffee Break Spanish has 128 podcasts for free.

– Buy a plane ticket immediately. Go for as many vacations days as you can, or ask to take an unpaid leave of absence for at least one month. Jenni’s company gave her a whole year of leave, which goes to show that you never know what you can get until you ask. And if you’re worried about the money, realize that in many parts of the world your dollar will stretch much farther than you think.

– Find the local community. If you live in a metropolitan area, find the community of immigrants from your destination country within your own city. Try their food, ask about where you should travel, and find out what they miss about their home country.

– Take a sabbatical from television. Automatically gain 2 hours of your life a day. From your local library, read 5 books about your destination region. Coming home, we decided to banish the television out of our living room. There’s too much to do in life than watch bad TV.

– Live with Less. Most of the world lives far more simply than you. Consider how little you need to live on and simplify. Pack light. Having spent one year with just our backpacks, we realized that stuff really weighs you down – physically and mentally. When we got home and started unpacking our boxes, we decided to take up a new minimalist attitude by getting rid of half of our stuff. Read The Joy of Less if you’re looking for some minimalist inspiration and how-tos.

– Look to Unwire Your Life. Most people in the world don’t have a MacBook, iPad and iPhone. Take some down time from your devices, and get out in nature for a sensory experience. Admittedly, we were on our computers a lot throughout our trip. But some of our best times were when we were trekking or in the jungle because we couldn’t get wired and had nothing to distract ourselves from the present experience.

– Find a Volunteer Project in Your Destination Country. Whether you volunteer 2 hours a day or 8 hours a day, there is an organization that needs your help. When Jenni and I started this trip, we considered a lot of different volunteer opportunities. We asked ourselves what we were most passionate about (the gays!) and what skills we had to offer, and that’s how Out and Around was born.

– Learn about Local Practices. Interested in learning yoga in India, surfing in Bali, tango in Buenos Aires, or jiu-jitsu in Brazil? In addition to learning a new skill, getting engaged in a local practice provides a venue for you to meet locals.

– Interview Locals. Try understanding the world from someone else’s perspective. The thing we loved most about this project was spending time with people and hearing their stories. Now, you don’t need to undertake a big project to do this. Most people love talking about themselves, so all you need to is ask and listen.

– Share Your Ideas Back Home: Whether sending out emails to family and friends or starting an ongoing public blog, find a way to share your learnings. Instead of just having one professor reading your thesis, you can have thousands of people following your ideas.


* Inspired by the book The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau

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