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​Workaway Program Offers Unique Student Experience

September 23, 2016


Part of the college experience is the opportunity to study abroad. For some students, the idea of leaving home to go half way across the world is terrifying, but not for TLU exchange student Masaki Higashi. As a student from Kansai Gaidai, a university near Osaka, Japan, Higashi spent this past summer exploring the Texas countryside. After spending a semester in Seguin, he wanted a chance to explore more of the U.S. before going home at the end of his fall semester. He found Workaway—an international program that allows people to volunteer with families or small organizations in exchange for food and board.

Workaway became a unique, inexpensive way for him to have new experiences all over the state of Texas. For just a few hours of work a day, Workaway students can become immersed in a new culture and live with a host family for weeks at a time. Whether students want to travel across the world or stay close to home, there are opportunities almost everywhere.

Higashi spent this past summer traveling and working throughout Texas in Tyler, Lexington, Mason, and Corsicana.

In Tyler, he stayed with a small family helping with their garden and doing handy work around the house. As the only Workaway student there, Higashi became apart of the family, playing video games and going on camping trips. After nearly a month in Tyler, he took a bus to Lexington for a completely different experience.

In Lexington, Higashi worked at a large farm. There, he was able to help care for livestock like pigs, sheep, chickens, cows, and even the family dogs. Higashi also helped tend to and harvest the farm’s crops. He even visited Austin to help the family at a farmers market, seeing exactly what the farm-to-table movement looks like.

After his time in Lexington, Higashi spent two weeks working on a vineyard in Mason where he was one of many volunteers including international students and Texans. His best experience, he said, was in Corsicana where he worked on a small farm He experienced his first rodeo, milked cows, and even played the role of a zombie in a local film.

This mini tour of Texas allowed him to learn more about American culture than he ever thought possible. He encourages all students to spend time studying abroad, have new experiences, and meet new people.

For more information about study abroad opportunities, contact International Education Director Charla Bailey.