pre-med volunteer program abroad

Why join a pre-med volunteer program abroad

Everyone has been there. I am talking about the beginning of their careers. The pre-med volunteer program provides opportunities for people that are starting in the health field and of course people on the pre-med career path.

pre-med volunteer

What is exactly pre-med?

The pre-med stage is where people interested in studying medicine prepare themselves for this long and intensive career through a major. There is no ¨pre-med¨ major, perse, this is merely a related major to health sciences that show that someone is interested in studying medicine.

People in the pre-med stage have to choose carefully what they major in and what classes they take to get accepted into medical school.

Some common pre-requisites include classes like biology, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, Math, and others. The pre-requisites for classes vary from medical school to medical school making it even a little trickier. 

Here is good in depth article on how to choose a major that is best for Pre-med.

So while you are in the pre-med stage, why join a health volunteer program? and why abroad?


A Pre-med volunteer program abroad-

Among the many academic requisites from U.S universities to become a licensed doctor, schools also look at field experience that is related to health. This is where volunteering abroad in a medical or health program becomes a big factor in being accepted into medical school.

By joining the pre-med volunteer program, students get hands-on experience in a clinical setting that not only provides valuable education but also rack extra points for medical school. But why volunteer abroad? Volunteering abroad in a pre-med focused program has many advantages over volunteering in your home country like:

  1. Provide a more direct experience where help is scarce.

  2. Have a humanitarian approach to your program.

  3. Meet other people from very different cultures, both from your host country and other volunteers.

  4. Learning a new language.

  5. Learning about a different health system.

  6. Assisting doctors and nurses with patients whose conditions have been eradicated in the vast majority of the world.

  7. Ease of application.

You can join the health volunteer program with Integrated Learning Experiences in Peru, Costa Rica, or Guatemala. Depending on your location you can assist doctors and nurses in rural health clinics, chronic pain clinics, or small clinics inside bigger institutions like assisted living facilities or schools.

You can see in further detail our healthcare volunteer program and choose what is right for you.

If you are looking to get accepted into medical school, volunteering in the health program is a great choice that will bring valuable experience, look good on your resume and help people that need it.

If you are in the advanced stages of your medical or nursing career or are a healthcare professional you can opt for the medical internship program or the nursing internship program where you will have more firsthand practice working in larger clinics or hospitals with more responsibility.

Note:This article focuses on the U.S educational system, and this varies from country to country.

Why to volunteer as a senior abroad?

Why should you volunteer abroad as Senior?

Many people think that volunteering abroad is for young adventurous people trying to gain perspective on the world. While this is also true, volunteering programs abroad are also a great fit for seniors. This is because of their time availability, experience, good criteria, and enhanced empathy.

Here are some of our reasons why we love seniors that volunteer!

Senior volunteer abroad

Senior volunteers have time

 Seniors are usually retired, making time plentiful. Not only time availability is good for senior volunteering abroad, but flexibility as well plays a big role in how that time is spent. Seniors can choose to come at the best times or when there are fewer volunteers and more help is needed. Also, seniors can easily change their plans with fewer restrictions as their kids are grown up and they don´t have a boss waiting for them to get back to work.

Senior volunteers have experience

Seniors joining a volunteer program have a lot to give to their project in the form of experience. Seniors had a lifetime of valuable professional experience and can contribute it to their project in a deeper way by training staff, help strategize or create better and improved workflows.

INLEX has had quite a few volunteers over 50 that have made a significant contribution to their projects by implementing new and better ways of doing things and strengthening the project staff itself with new tools to accomplish this. 

A great example of this is of an Irish volunteer in his mid 60’s who was a principal most of his life and joined to volunteer at a rural school in Guatemala. During his time volunteering, he was able to implement a better time management structure for teachers, a more efficient line of communication, and a system to encourage students that were excelling in their performance. All over the course of 10 weeks.

Senior volunteers have a good criteria

Years living on this earth tend to give individuals a better thought process and improved decision-making skills. Senior volunteers are very independent and tend to have a very sound judgment on their work. Projects love seniors, as they don´t have to look after their work so often.

Senior volunteers are very empathic

People that volunteer, in general, are very empathic, however, we see that seniors are even better at understanding other people´s situations. They are able to be more understanding of the people they help. Empathy helps a long way when making connections with people.

Their experience, criteria, empathy, and flexibility are some of the reasons why we love seniors that volunteer. Are you over 50 and looking to travel abroad and make a difference?

Volunteers can choose from programs in:

And did you know that according to a recent study volunteering may be healthy and improve your quality of life? 

Climate change in Latin America and environmental protection volunteers

It’s a fact. Global warming is not an if, but a when . The scientific community knows that the tipping point of no return is coming soon, how soon depends on the choices we as global community take.

Environmental conservation is key to slowing or hopefully reversing some of the effects.


Global warming not only affects rising ocean lines, whole ecosystems and temperatures, but it also has dire social consequences, specially on poorer countries that are ill-equipped to handle natural disasters, economic instability and resource shortages. Volunteers in our environmental program see first-hand how climate change is changing the region and are part of the change to slow it down. But how exactly does it affect Latin America?

  1. Natural disasters: Climate is becoming more and more extreme .Hurricanes, floods, droughts, and more. This is not exclusive to Latin America, but most countries in the region don’t have effective plans on how to deal with these disasters and in turn this causes food shortages, displaced populations, water related illnesses and rise in vermin.

  2. The seasons: A lot of small traditional farmers rely on the predictability of seasons to time their crops. Global warming is creating more unpredictable weather, causing a myriad of problems for small farmers that don’t have irrigation systems or any tools of industrialized farming. Volunteers working with small farmers are working on ways to protect small farmers against this.

  3. Extreme temperatures: Some areas that are already very hot during the summer are becoming dangerously hot. This becomes a bigger issue when a lot of the people in those areas work as farmers and spend most of their day outdoors. Also this contributes to destroying their crops.

  4. Deepening the wealth gap: Because the already poor people get the worse consequences of climate change, the wealth gap gets bigger, causing more social instability.

  5. Migration: Because of this rising wealth gap , climate change is creating massive immigration of people looking for better opportunities in other countries, in turn creating refugees of a sort.

Climate change is the hands of everyone and only a coordinated effort can help mitigate the problem.

Climate change is the hands of everyone and only a coordinated effort can help mitigate the problem.

Volunteers working in the environmental conservation.

program work towards more sustainable forestry practices, sustainable tourism and environmental education. The education aspect has the longest lasting impact on the population, as it teaches them how manage their resources in a more responsible way.

Also, at home there are many ways to reduce your footprint on the earth like buying less, repairing more, re-using, supporting environmentally friendly companies , eating less meat and making small conscious decisions. We realize the act of air travel does also create a carbon footprint, so try to keep air travel meaningful.

Want to learn more about sustainable travel? Check out one of our former volunteer´s blog

How to make Guacamole, The Guatemalan way.

A big part of traveling abroad is eating the local food. Eating local, is a great way to get to know the culture as well. One of the favorite recipes of volunteers that come to Guatemala is Guacamole A.K.A “GUAC” , to make some good old finger-lickin’ Guatemalan style Guacamole all you have to do is this:

The ingredients:

8 ripe avocados. How to know if they are ripe? Check this guide out.

1 white onion

3 lemons

1 teaspoon of Salt

1 spoon of oregano

1 spoon of pepper

¼ cup of parsley

This makes a bowl for four

  1. Cut the avocados and put them in a bowl.Keep one of the seeds!
  2. Smash all the avocados with a fork until the textures is nice and creamy
  3. Dice onions and add to the bowl.
  4. Cut lemons and mix in juice.
  5. Dice parsley leaves and add in to the bowl.
  6. Add oregano ,pepper and salt.

Tip: add in one of the seeds (whole)of the avocados to help the Guacamole stay fresh , this is because the seed releases essentials oils that prevent the Guacamole turning brown.

Other ingredients you can try with your Guac:

-Mayonnaise to make it creamier

-Cayenne pepper

-Garlic Salt

-Diced tomato

Volunteer approved recipe!

Managing Culture Shock during your Volunteer Abroad Program

From the time I was 14 through 23 I was fortunate enough to participate in 11 international volunteer and intern abroad programs. Although each of these volunteer programs were in a different country (and yes, I absolutely have my favorites) the adaptation to a new daily schedule, host families, co-volunteers, local supermarkets and volunteer program sites was always very similar. Between 3 days and 3 weeks, I always called my mother in tears, told her I needed to go home, and told her any version of “I shouldn’t have come” that you can think.

Throughout each of those 11 conversations where my mother listened to my fears, reassured me that I would have a great time if I gave myself a bit of grace and opened up the next few days, then told me to send lots of photos, I was always reminded of why I chose to participate in the volunteer program in the first place. Bringing myself back to my initial goal, then slowing down for long enough to enjoy the new world around me, I realized that I was scared. I was scared of not making new friends in Argentina, of not understanding my Peruvian host family’s Spanish, scared to let Costa Rican my volunteer project coordinators down, scared I wasn’t going to be able to have as large of an impact in Guatemala that I wished.

The lesson that I learned through these experiences, and that I hope will help you have the best volunteer abroad experience is

Volunteering over 50

Volunteering over 50

Volunteering abroad is a rewarding and life-changing experience at any age. We would like to invite you to get to know Inlexca and the number of volunteer placements which are ideal for the over 50s we offer. These include English teaching, medical and health volunteering, women’s empowerment, wildlife or marine conservation and many more.

If you are looking to take part in a responsible holiday, travel some new countries, cross off some items from your bucket list, learn a new skill or simply want to help others, we can assist you to find the perfect project for your time abroad.

During the past 10 years, our organization has placed over 1000 volunteers among which many have been over 50. INLEXCA places a great deal of value on our older volunteers, for with age comes a mixture of experience, skills, and patience that younger volunteers often cannot offer. We understand that at any age, at any stage in life, every volunteer has his / her own personal needs and requirements, this is why we design each volunteer placement in direct communication with your volunteers taking into consideration their desires and needs.

Our over 50s volunteering placements are designed to broaden your horizons, expand your mind and heart and create life-enhancing experiences. If you’re inspired by traveling around the world and doing great things to give back to communities as you set your own path, we invite you to get in contact with us.

We are also happy to accommodate you with your family if you want to bring someone along – children, grandchildren or friends!

Remember, it is never too late to make a difference in the world.

Interning Abroad in Business: Micro Finance

One of our most popular intern programs is the business internship in microfinance in Guatemala. Interns going into this field are usually from the field of finance, business or IT, but this is not limited to other related fields. INLEXCA partners with various Micro finance organizations that aim to help small entrepreneurs that are unable to get loans from banks or traditional sources. These small entrepreneurs not only get a competitive loan that fits their needs but also get important training, business intelligence and follow-ups to make their efforts sustainable.

By interning abroad in Guatemala in business you can help these small entrepreneurs by making case studies of their businesses and advising them on how to get the maximum return out of their loan. Interns that are particularly well qualified can help inside the organization in the fields of automation, accounting, data analysis, and strategy.

Also micro finance organizations help people who need a loan avoid loan sharks or high rate loans which are far too common in Central America.

Interning abroad in business: Micro finance

Interns helping clients are tasked with:

-Basic financial literacy training: A lot of the clients that request a loan have very vague knowledge of how to keep a healthy business running in the long term. Interns can train clients in tools like :
balancing sheets, separating personal and business funds, evaluating risks, etc.

-ROI: Interns can help clients evaluate return on investment with limited resources so they can make the right choices as to where to which aspects are more important to invest in.

-Marketing: An area where clients are usually in need of help is proper marketing techniques. Interns can help business thrive with proper marketing advise.

More experienced interns can also have the opportunity to get involved with bigger businesses taking out larger loans. If you have business knowledge, I.T knowledge or marketing experience the business intern program in Guatemala is a great way to gain experience with real clients and businesses.

Volunteering and Teaching Abroad

Many volunteers come every year to our education program to help students in low-income communities. The most common question from volunteers is “What am I going to be doing?”.We pair each volunteer at a school that will benefit from his/her knowledge; the profile of each volunteer is different, some might be good at music, or math, or sports, or computer literacy, so this is taken in to account before placement. The most common type of support that is asked by schools is English teaching, however, if you have a very specific skill that is beneficial to school children do let us know!

Work hours are usually Monday through Friday from 8 am-2pm and the academic cycle varies per country. In Guatemala, for example, it is from mid-January to early October. In Costa Rica, this is from mid-February to late October, so it’s best to pick a time that matches the academic cycle of your destination.

volunteering and teaching abroad

A few things to keep in mind when volunteering in as a teacher:

1. Have a sunny disposition: There’s no better way to transmit enthusiasm to school children than to have a positive attitude towards the class you are teaching.

2. Be proactive: Have suggestions or want to add extra content? Please let know other teachers or staff. We encourage volunteers to be as proactive as possible. Although remember changes come in small increments, so don’t expect to change the world in a few days.

3. Be an example: Remember kids look up to you as a role model, so everything you do in school is important; from the clothes, you wear to the way you behave. If you are unsure of how a certain behavior might be interpreted, please ask your volunteer coordinator.

4. Be playful: The best way to keep students engaged is to keep the class fun, by every now and then delivering educational material through games. You can discuss what materials and games you can prepare with other teachers and staff.

5. Be realistic: You want to teach French in 3 weeks? That is very difficult. Remember to keep your goals down to earth, and if they are long-term goals remember to keep a journal about your class so the next volunteer can pick up where you left off.

With good planning, a positive attitude and the right knowledge you can make an impact in the lives of the children you teach.

Environmental Policy in Costa Rica – A Move in to the Future

environment policy Costa Rica If you join the environmental preservation volunteer program in Costa Rica, you will notice that the projects have very clear goals and the country has a very strong sense of awareness when it comes to protecting natural resources. Here are some interesting facts on how Costa Rica is becoming a world leader in environmental preservation and what they are doing to improve.

1. Renewable energy:
Over 95% of energy comes from renewable sources. Most energy comes from hydroelectric stations and geothermal stations.

2. Carbon Neutral:
By 2021 Costa Rica has pledged to be a carbon neutral country. When volunteering in the environmental program you will notice that there is a big commitment to reforestation as this pledge is mostly being reached by planting native species of trees at a great scale.

3. Parks:
Over 30% of Costa Rican territory is being used for national parks and wildlife reserves.

environment policy

4. Incentives:
Farmers that own vast amounts of land are paid not to cut down patches of forest, thus creating an incentive to preserve Costa Rican forests. In fact, many reserves are private.

5. Volunteers:
Volunteer programs in Costa Rica are available everywhere in wildlife reserves and parks. Many Costa Rican volunteers every year to help in various national parks.

6. Emission controls: Costa Rica is the only country in Central America that requires strict emission controls for all of its vehicles.


Volunteering in Sea Turtle Conservation in Central America

The sea turtle conservation program is great for volunteers looking to help marine Eco-systems by protecting one of its most vulnerable species as well as spending time outdoors. Sea turtles are endangered due to many factors like pollution, sea turtle nest poaching, plastics, by-catch, and injury due to motorized vessels. Sea turtle numbers are decreasing at a shocking pace, and that is why many projects around the world have been created to help slow down or hopefully stop this decline. As a volunteer in sea turtle conservation in Central America you will encounter these species:

Leatherback sea turtle:

The Leatherback sea turtle does not have a hard shell, but instead has a rough rubber-like skin that protects it along bone plates giving it a leather-like look. They are the largest sea turtles with an average size of 5 feet 9 inches to around 6 feet 3 inches in length and weighing 550-1650 pounds. They also have large migrational patterns crossing Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Leatherbacks’ diet consists mainly of jellyfish helping control the population.

Their lifespan usually ranges around 50 years, although more exact numbers are not yet known. The leather back turtles usually nest in the same area where they were born or may choose another one in the region.

Sea turtles info-graphic

Olive Ridley Sea Turtle :

The Olive Ridely sea turtle has the largest population of all, and it gets its name from its olive color. It ranges from around 4 feet to 5’6 in length and weighs no more than 100 pounds.

This sea turtle returns to the beach where it was born to nest and only nests in a few places around the world, making it more vulnerable to changes in its habitat.

The Olive Ridley sea Turtle eats Jellyfish, crab, shrimp and occasionally algae. Volunteers in the sea turtle conservation program will encounter this turtle more often.

Hawksbill Sea Turtle:

The Hawksbill Sea Turtle lives mostly in shallow water making it more susceptible to predators and human harm, in fact, this turtle is now critically endangered.

The Hawksbill gets its name from its pointy nose, and is omnivorous but prefers eating sea sponges. They average a size of this turtle is around 3 feet and weighs around 90-150 pounds.

Volunteers working in the sea turtle conservation program can expect to task like :

-Support in cleaning and keeping in good appearance the installations.
-Support to the staff with activity planning.
-Help with building infrastructure as necessary
-Assist visitors to the project. (explaining turtles life and cycle, answering questions, etc)
-Help monitor hatchery and night turtle patrols (only during sea turtle season)
-Help in Mangrove conservation
-Assist to the staff with the egg donations in the mornings.
-Assist the staff with the activities for the release of turtles.

The turtle season ranges from July to December.

If you like simple living, being outdoors and love wildlife the sea turtle conservation program is for