Studying in the United States is a great opportunity to meet people and try new things. One hands-on way to learn about American culture is by volunteering with local non-profits and charities in your area. If you live in an off-campus apartment, there are likely amazing opportunities for service and personal development right outside your door. Here are some great reasons to volunteer in the new year.
Feel better: Feeling comfortable in a new culture can take some time. Volunteering is a great way to focus on something other than you for a while, and it can have a positive impact on your physical, mental and emotional health. A recent survey showed that people who volunteered in the last 12 months felt happier, healthier, less stressed and had a better sense of purpose in life. Getting involved with your community and helping those in need can be beneficial for everyone.
Meet new people: Making friends can be difficult in a new place, and it can be hard to know where to start. Whether it’s helping at a local food center or participating in building a home with Habitat for Humanity, volunteering at a non-profit allows you to meet people who are passionate about similar causes. Volunteering with new acquaintances can also be a great way to spend time with a new friend. Instead of getting coffee or seeing a movie while you get to know each other, get involved and do something good for community. This can provide a meaningful activity that you can do again and again as your friendship and social circle grows.
Add it to your resume: Volunteering can be a great addition to your resume and helps you build new skills. Spending time volunteering helps you become a better team player, a more confident leader and decision maker, and improves your overall communication skills. Relationships built through volunteering can also serve you in your job or internship search. Because most volunteers have careers outside of the non-profit, the connections made while serving your community can serve you in other ways. Volunteering helps you develop strengths outside of the technical knowledge and skills you learn in the classroom, and knowing professionals in your community is a great way to get your foot in the door for interviews.
If you’re not sure which non-profit in your area would be a good match for you, check out VolunteerMatch.org, which can help you find opportunities based on your interests and your geographical area. No matter why you choose to volunteer, your helping hands will be valued in the community and you’re sure to make meaningful relationships while studying in the United States.