Hard Work & Hygge?! 8 Winter Break Internships Abroad

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Although “Hygge” may look like something you’d scream riding into battle, it’s actually a Danish word for acknowledging when a moment feels particularly comfortable - so like, the opposite of battle. Pronounced hue-guh, it’s used to describe life’s little pleasures such as a stormy night in with a good book, fireside s'mores with friends, or slamming that last godforsaken assignment on your professor’s desk before dipping out for the holidays. See ya never, Mr. Benson!

It’s also a word that’ll come in handy once you secure the perfect winter break internship abroad. Winter break internships are for those who wish to put their time off to good use rather than hibernate the precious weeks away. If your ideal winter break is a supercut of hard work coupled with cozy travel moments in faraway places, look no further because we got your holiday miracle right here...

woman bundled in grey sweater with pink scarf holding coffee and a flower

Do you draw your strength and style from the cold and snow? Then winter break internships abroad are your jam.

Why YOU should consider winter break internships abroad

Although that super-sized sofa at your parents’ house is tempting, winter break internships abroad are an amazing opportunity to experience the world and focus on your career when most decide to do nothing. Plus, most programs know that you have to get back to the daily grind by mid-January meaning maximum benefits for minimum commitment. However, if you come to find that you loved the position, organization, or country, you’ll have your foot in the door for long-term opportunities in the future. It’s like the Tinder of international programing.

[Get matched with winter break internships for college students]

Need more convincing? Aside from all the valuable work experience and personal growth one can expect from spending time abroad, winter break internships for college students are especially beneficial given that good grades just don’t cut it anymore. Most employers expect - nay demand! - extracurricular experiences and an internship is practically a postgrad prerequisite. Winter break internships are the best way to sq ueeze in an outstanding new addition to your resume while ringing in the new year doing what you love: travel!

Now if you’re dreaming of a green Christmas, you’re better off sticking with Grandma. Winter break programs for college students aren’t known for their high-earnings and you shouldn’t expect to receive a ton of money. That being said, experiencing the holidays abroad is a unique experience worth every penny. Take part in the local festivities. Taste traditional dishes with new friends and their families. Take time for yourself and most importantly, enjoy! 

Questions to ask yourself before you sign up for winter break internships abroad

Before you put down the pencil and whip out the luggage, take the time to brainstorm through these questions to make sure you make the most out of your winter break abroad. 

What’s your timeline?

Can you wrap up finals and still have a day or two to acclimate to your new home? Can you make it back in time to be in your seat on the first day of class in January? A few missed days won’t kill ya, but starting the new year behind can throw off your resolution for better grades. Know your dates and communicate early and often with your advisors. The best program will be the one that maximizes your time abroad but won’t stress your departure or return.

What’s the value? 

Short term internships are great for testing the waters. You’ll get to interact with individuals in the industry and hone in on your passions and interests. This will expand your network and increase the prospects of full-time employment later on. That being said, your internship abroad doesn’t have to be aligned with your field of study of career goals. If you have a yearning to partake in a program, whatever that may be, you should do it! 

[Save and compare winter break internships for college students with MyGoAbroad]

close up of snowflake

The weather outside is frightful, but this international work experience on your resume is SO delightful.

Also remember that the program’s location is the backdrop to your daily life abroad. Since winter break internships are more limited than others, choose a country or city that you can really see yourself enjoying. However, if you wish to fully immerse yourself in a new culture, you might consider waiting and doing a summer break internship abroad. Longer = more learning and growth!  

Sandals or UGGs? 

If you want to avoid winter hat hair in the office, head to south of the equator. You’ll come back with a bit of a tan and won’t waste space in your suitcase with all those puffy jackets. Hate sweating in your power skirt? Stay north. What would a winter break be without some chilly mornings and heavy blankets, anyway? Climate will play a large part of your winter break internship abroad and you should weigh your preferences when choosing a program. 

8 spectacular winter internships abroad

Now that you’re warming up to the idea of spending your winter break abroad, why not make like a chestnut and get crackin’. Below you’ll find a wonderland of internships from all over the world. Take a look and see some winter break internships for students that we highly recommended...

1. Atlantis Pre-med Fellowships 

During your break, you could binge watch Grey’s Anatomy or you could choose to shadow real doctors in South America, Europe, or Oceania. Atlantis is one of the world’s leading international internship programs for pre-medical students and their winter break internships work closely with the American Medical Student Association. This ensures you’re prepped for postgrad and have enough time to explore too.

2. Human Connections Entrepreneurship & Development Winter Internship

Trade the eggnog for a margarita with Human Connections in Mexico. Interns will gain real experience as a consultant for small businesses and nonprofit projects in the western region. It’s the perfect winter break trip for college students that want a competitive edge in their future career or simply want to live in a Mexican beach town for awhile. Who said you can’t put christmas lights on a palm tree? 

3. EA Ski & Snowboard Instructor Internship

If you’re wincing at the idea of being away from the slopes this ski season, why not get paid to shred by becoming an instructor? EA Ski & Snowboard Training will qualify you to become a bona fide instructor this winter. Better yet, you’ll have a guaranteed job placement in powder havens like Japan, Canada, or New Zealand. You better start stretchin’.

red tram car in the snow, Turkey

Baby, it’s cold outside! (But you still have to go to work, no slacking!)

Maximo Nivel International Internships  

Too busy studying for finals? Let Maximo Nivel be your cheat sheet to winter break internships abroad. Set your sights to Central America and leave the rest up to a qualified advisor to find the perfect placement in Peru, Costa Rica, or Guatemala! With internships in a ton of industries and programs starting throughout the year, you can tailor an internship to your professional needs and exact timeline. If only gift-giving was that easy... 

5. Projects Abroad Nursing and Midwifery Internship

Travel to the Ghana’s energizing Cape Coast where you’ll work alongside local hospital staff in various departments. Nursing and Midwifery interns will receive a customized placement and get the chance to stay with a host family to experience day-to-day Ghanaian life. Spending the winter tucked away at home may seem tempting, but who’s going to regret total African immersion and practical experience?

6. Performing Arts Abroad Internship

When it comes to winter break trips for college students, Performing Arts Abroad is a tough act to follow. Cross-cultural collaboration is invaluable for studying artists and PAA is committed to promoting a global perspective for performers. Dance in Spain, perform in South Africa, film in Italy, and so much more. Go ahead and take center stage this winter and be back by February.

7. Instituto Hemingway Culinary Arts Internship  

Here’s an internship so good you can taste it. The perfect blend of culture and cuisine, this culinary program abroad is designed for those who want to live and learn in Spain. You’ll take professional hands-on cooking courses seasoned with some spanish language lessons. With placements from local restaurants to international hotels, your career - and your palette - will be thanking you.

8. Projects Abroad Medicine and Healthcare Internship

Surf, sunshine, and saving lives; now that’s a winter break to remember! The island nation of Sri Lanka offers Medicine and Healthcare Interns the opportunity to work in coastal hospitals and clinics related to your particular interests. Outside of the hospital, you’ll live with a local host family and have the chance to explore some of the most beautiful beaches in Asia. It just so happens December to January is one of the best times to visit Sri Lanka, too!

[First-time interns, you GOTTA download this ebook]

Man sitting on frozen lake in Switzerland

Winter break internships abroad guarantee that you’ll be able to deck yourself out in that ice-ice baby.

BONUS: Alternative winter break options for college students

Surprise! Winter break programs for college students don’t have to be an internship. In fact, there’s a ton of incredible alternative winter break programs that allow participants to travel somewhere new and do some good. Check out these standout programs and stay open to the idea that volunteer opportunities abroad can be just as beneficial to that resume and career as an internship. Plus, they pretty much ensure a coal-free Christmas.

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1. Projects Abroad Winter Volunteer Project Building in Nepal 

Bundle up and spread some cheer because there’s work to be done in Nepal. This project began as a response to the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal a few years back. From renovating damaged schools to providing daycare for families with small children, you don’t need super-strength to make a huge difference here. Judging by the reviews, it sounds like a lot of fun too!

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2. GoEco's South Africa Wildlife Sanctuary Winter Volunteer Program

GoEco has a ton of wild ways to spend a winter abroad. This program places volunteers in a sanctuary for injured or orphaned animals from Africa’s varied ecosystems. 

Spending time with cheetahs or lions may be more relaxing than being with your relatives. With flexible programs and new volunteers starting every month, you can squeeze a few weeks in South Africa and be home before the New Year!

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3. Winter Break in Haiti With Be Like Brit Foundation's Children’s Home and Community Volunteer Program

I think we can all agree there’s nothing more precious than a child during the holidays. This alternative winter break for college students helps the many children of Haiti left orphaned by the 2010 earthquake. Mornings are spent rebuilding the community and afternoons are spent doing activities with the children. Embody the holiday spirit and deepen your understanding of poverty and development while enjoying the holidays with those in need.

cross country skiing across a field in the city

Now THAT’s a commute to work every day.

Winter break internships are coming

You’ve been working too hard like an undead Night King equipped with an ice dragon. Now that you know meaning of the work Hygge, picture what you hope your winter break will look like. Imagine great food, quality relationships, and meaningful memories. Understand that all that and so much more will occur during a winter break internship abroad. Whoever said ‘there’s no place like home for the holidays’ never spent their winter break exploring the world and fine-tuning their passions. Ditch the flu season and catch the travel bug instead.

Find internships abroad now

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