During your travels abroad, you'll have the opportunity to meet many new people and explore their cultures and backgrounds. They will have a variety of different life situations. Some may be student backpackers while others claim to be on sabbatical from their job. If you move in academic circles, you will hear the word sabbatical even more. But what is a sabbatical? How do you take one? And is this something you should look into for yourself? We'll answer your questions here.

The word sabbatical is derived from Greek, Latin, and Hebrew words that mean to take a break from work. When you're on sabbatical, it means you're taking a break from your primary career to focus on something else. You might, for example, take a sabbatical from your law office job (Shlaw.ca has examples), to volunteer your wood working skills or work in a third world country. A typical sabbatical is between two months and one year long and can be either paid or unpaid depending on the arrangement you have with your employer.

The most common form of sabbatical is academic. Professors at universities often take sabbaticals from their teaching or research duties at the university in order to pursue other, peripherally related projects, such as writing a book that draws on their academic expertise or conducting research. A professor on sabbatical may be found at home in front of the computer, traveling the world to collect information, or consulting with colleagues at other universities. Most academics still draw at least a nominal salary while on sabbatical.

Sabbaticals are becoming increasingly common outside the academic world as well. Employers are increasingly coming to realize that long periods of developing or working without a break can lead to burnout. Therefore many companies are beginning to offer sabbatical options to their employees. Unlike an academic sabbatical, where the professor's plans must be approved by the department, employees on sabbatical from work can do as they please. Generally they are not paid for their time.

Going on sabbatical can be a great idea for managing your affairs if you would like to travel or make further study of other cultures away from your home. Before you ask for a sabbatical from work, however, you will want to figure out how you will support yourself during your break as well as what you plan to do with your condominium or home while you're away. Often renting out your place and taking odd jobs while traveling can provide much needed income.

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