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4 Ways Singaporeans Can Go on a Sabbatical Without Worrying About Money

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Joanne Poh

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Gone are the days when people were afraid to undo the chains from their ankles and take a break from work. The young Singaporean worker of today is more likely to be labelled a job hopper than a long-service employee, and taking a few months to a year off on sabbatical is becoming increasingly common.

Even Ho Ching took a 3 month-long sabbatical this year. However, unlike Ho Ching, the ordinary Singaporean is plagued with bread and butter issues like how to fund their break from the workforce. Here are four cheap sabbatical ideas that will buy you a much-needed break from work at a relatively low price.

 

Volunteer

Many Singaporeans opt to spend their sabbaticals overseas rather than in yet another packed local shopping mall. Signing up for a medium to long term volunteer programme can be a good way not only to do something meaningful with your time while also enjoying free food and board for an extended period. For instance, the Singapore International Foundation runs several volunteer programmes that enable you to live abroad for a period of between six months and two years as you volunteer in fields related to your professional experience. If you like kids, the WorldTeach programme supports you as you spend a year teaching in places as exotic as Micronesia.

 

Get a free master’s degree

Whether you’re thinking of upgrading your skills by getting another qualification or simply studying something interesting but impractical, a sabbatical is the best time to do it. Best of all, if you know where to look, you might be able to find a master’s degree course absolutely free of charge.

For instance, Koç University in Turkey offers many masters’ programmes conducted in English at no cost. You’ll have to settle your own living costs, but given the high prices in Singapore you’d probably end up paying more to live here anyway.

 

Become a travel writer

Since you’re going to be collecting memories and taking pictures on your round-the-world jaunt anyway, it’s a good idea to make some extra cash out of those stories and photos. Travel writing is one way you can turn your adventures into a bit of spare cash. Learn how to pitch stories to publications and invest in a decent camera, and you might be able to sell a couple of articles as you make your way around the globe.

If you’re lucky and hardworking enough, you might find that your writing is able to subsidise or even fully pay for your trip. Some publications you can pitch to include online magazines and airlines’ in-flight magazines.

 

Book into a temple or ashram

Forget the fancy retreats that claim to be able to help you detox and find inner peace for the low price of your entire life savings. If you want to learn to discipline your mind and get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, book into a temple or ashram where you’ll be able to live for free or for a small fee. Of course, this vacation is not going to be a big party by any stretch.

At the Doi Suthep Vipassana Meditation Centre, which is attached to one of Chiang Mai’s most famous temples, you can attend a by-donation-only meditation course of up to 21 days. Or you can follow the hordes of Eat Pray Love devotees to an ashram in India, where you can study meditation or yoga in exchange for helping out around the complex.

Have you ever gone on sabbatical? Tell us what you did in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.

  • Sherilyn Tan

    I would also like to add that Germany offers free Masters degrees in English for International students. Iceland and some Scandinavian countries too. They (universities) prize relevant working experience – so even if your grades are not perfect, there is a chance of getting in. Many university students work part-time / internships as well, so you could earn money on the side.