Depending on what your college years were like, they were either the best of times or the worst of times. Well, that’s if you can even remember them. But one classic undergrad experience was studying abroad. Being able to immerse yourself in a different culture, all while earning credits? Win-win. But for those who missed that opportunity, there’s a new company offering a second chance of sorts.
Millennial travel company FTLO Travel just launched SOJRN, which allows young professionals to study, well, work abroad. The four-week programs, or chapters as they’re called, let professionals switch up their work and Zoom locations or just relax in a different setting.
The chapters each have different themes. There’s wellness in Mexico, tech in Tokyo, wine in Italy, entrepreneurship in Berlin, or even sustainability in Costa Rica. Each chapter is slated to last four weeks and includes the necessary access to co-working spaces and Wi-Fi, but also what they call “experiential lessons.” This includes having your taste profile analyzed by a sommelier in Tuscany or learning food vocabulary in Medellin by purchasing ingredients from a marketplace for a $10 recipe challenge.
“We picked destinations for a mix of reasons, but primarily for our existing relationships with local partners, fun relevant themes, accessibility, and safety,” said founder Tara Cappel. She says the current most popular locations are Tuscany, Mexico, and Stockholm.
The costs range from $2,000 to $4,000 for the month-long stay and include a weekly experience, accommodations (group housing or a private apartment), access to a local host, and of course, a co-working space. Meals and flights are additional.
The dates for each chapter aren’t listed on the site yet, but applicants have the opportunity to select what chapter(s) they’re interested in and what month(s) in 2021 works best for them.
Naturally, Covid comes to mind for any international travel.
“Before Covid, people were already hungry for trips that allowed them to connect with others, and I think after the year we’ve had, we’re going to see that even more,” Cappel told TripSavvy. “On our application, we ask what people are looking for out of a SOJRN, and over half mention meeting new people, so we know that is a huge draw for a program like this.”
The site’s FAQ states, “if it is not safe to go, we will not travel” regarding specific countries. Also, travelers must produce a negative PCR COVID-19 test before arriving and test three days after arrival.
The global pandemic has seen a rise in road trips, parents taking learning on the road for flexcations, and Cappel sees the same happening for working adults seeking that same sense of adventure and jobs offering flexibility. Or “workcations,” which she sees being a major trend over the next few years.
“This is really exciting because it means you can base yourself somewhere for a longer amount of time, which allows you to slow down and really feel immersed in another culture," says Cappel.
SOJRN’s currently allowing travelers to sign up for the waitlist, with early applicants receiving $300 off. Each chapter accepts 40 guests max, so it’s probably better to get those submissions in sooner than later.