Transitions Abroad is a bimonthly that's dedicated to providing its readers with information on how to travel overseas with a purpose: as a student, a volunteer at some sort of nonprofit activity, or a wage-earning expatriate, most often as a teacher of English.
This is, of course, the antithesis of the standard travel magazine. You won't find any ads for posh resorts or cruise lines in Transitions Abroad, which has been around for almost three decades and is published in Bennington, Vermont. Instead, you'll find articles on getting work permits in Germany, dealing with culture shock in rural Japan, and studying Italian during the day in Milan while the kids you nanny are off at school.
About a third of the recent issue of Transitions Abroad that's come into our MagSampler newsstand is devoted to scatter-shot one-page quickies about some aspect of life in a particular foreign city or country from expatriate freelance writers. The magazine would do better, in my opinion, to have longer in-depth pieces about the realities of a foreigner trying to get by in those environments. But some of these shorties are informative and amusing. For instance, a woman who signed up for a five-day cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand, relays some of the off-the-cuff advice of her cooking teacher, including "Wash your hands directly after chopping chili peppers and before you go to the bathroom; if you get chili juice on your special places, no one can help you."
In the middle of the magazine are 18 pages of listings of all sorts of short-term volunteer opportunities around the world. You have to pay your way to most of them, and then will probably have to pay at least a modest sum to participate, although a few will trade your labor for room and board. One of the more exotic listings: "Volunteers needed at chimpanzee sanctuary in Yaounde, Cameroon, for minimum six months. Should be able to communicate in French and be prepared for harsh living conditions."
The last one-third of the magazine, largely devoted to an array of articles about teaching English abroad for fun, profit, and intercultural experience, was of the greatest interest to me. In part this is because I spent most of two years just after college doing just that, but in a bizarre environment: a high school in South Vietnam during the height of the war in the late 1960s. What people would do in those days to avoid the draft!