Since the time I was a high school student in the 1980s, I've had the dream of traveling to French speaking countries around the world, particularly in Africa: Morocco, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, and also to other places like Haiti, Vietnam and of course Quebec.
I love the French language and am fascinated by our ability to think, read, speak, and understand bilingually.
So in 2014, I earned an ESL (teaching English as a Second Language) degree -- effectively my passport around the world. It gives me the opportunity not only to travel but also to live in a country and experience it as a local rather than only as a tourist.
When you are planted in a city for an extended stay (9 mos-1yr) and visit the same cafe, shop at the same stores and get to know the shopkeepers, you get the deeper experience.
To boot, I get paid to learn a new culture, customs and language. In fact, the ESL school here offers courses in French language.
As a side note, my advice to young people going to college is to consider complementing your studies by looking into earning an ESL degree.
I took my course through The Language House in Montpellier, France (so I actually have a TEFL degree, Teaching English as a Foreign Language). It was an intensive 4-week course, which met Mon-Fri, 9-5p with two weeks of grammar review and testing then two weeks of lesson planning and student teaching in small groups and one/one.
You are observed by your instructor and then your peers. It's intense but within one month you have completed 120 hours and are finished with certificate in hand. It's also advisable, if you can, to take a supplemental Business English course which qualifies you to teach business English to managers, CEOs, and professionals.
This is nice because under this type of work, you can command higher fees so if you gravitate toward teaching adults over children, as I do, then it can be a good career move. The course I zoom was about US $1,500 and I paid a separate housing fee of $500 to do a homestay with a French speaker for the month.
Of course I needed to cover my airfare to France and allot money for food and personal items. Doing the homestay was more affordable and gave me the opportunity to practice French while having a nice cozy home base to live and relax and study. You don't have much free time during the month while taking the TEFL course because it's quite intense with assignments, homework and studying but the payoff is great once you are done.
Read about my travels in Montpellier, France: http://www.jenniferkarchmer.com/montpellier-france.html>