I have a hard time wrapping my head around how amazing the last couple weeks have been. I look back a few months ago when I was on a Quebec City March Break trip with S-Trip and I received an email about applying to be Tourism Australia’s next travel blogger for the “Best Jobs in the World” contest. I have always been one to jump on any opportunity and with that I applied. Fast forward 2 months and I had won. Even at that point I was slightly unsure of how this trip would play out and what my responsibilities would be. All I knew is I was going to my favourite place in the world and pursuing a few of my interests – travelling, blogging and sharing stories with my followers and the rest of the world. I never thought that those interests would turn into my lifelong passion.
I sit here now looking out of the 18th floor of the InterContinental Hotel and realize, I can’t see myself anywhere else in the world at this stage of my life but in Australia. It is truly a place of discovery, exploration and happiness. I have had a permanent smile on my face and sense of joy within me for the last couple weeks – I have never been happier before in my entire life.
With this huge realization about how I can’t see myself anywhere else in the world but Australia, and the other realization that travelling and sharing my stories with others is for me… I plan on returning to this magical place as soon as I can. As soon as I can is hopefully going to be within the next 3 months.
Sounds crazy right? Well, it is but it isn’t that crazy. Luckily as a Canadian citizen – I am eligible for a 1 year Working-Holiday Visa in Australia. This allows me to live, work and travel in Australia up to 1 year, and potentially up to 2 years if I complete 88 days of agricultural work. It is a wonderful program that many people don’t know about, and many people don’t take the opportunity to do.
It has been great fun to get to know the various finalists in the “Best Jobs in the World” contest throughout the preliminary rounds of the competition and right here in South Australia and Sydney. One finalist has created a special place in my “Best Jobs” experience and that is my fellow Canuck, Greg Snell. He has been vying for one of the “Best Jobs in the World” as the Wildlife Caretaker in South Australia. He has impressed me so much over the last couple months with his passion for his country (Canada), his passion for wildlife, his passion for exploring and last but definitely not least his passion for Australia.
When I approached Greg about creating a piece on Canadians and the Working Holiday Visa (WHV) program in Australia, he jumped on the opportunity to share his passion and support for the program. Amongst the craziness that the finalists have been through the last couple days, I had a moment to sit down with Greg and speak to him about what his thoughts were on the WHV program…
Sam (S): Who is eligible for a Working Holiday Visa in Australia?
Greg (G): Most commonly are people within the ages of 18-30 and from commonwealth countries. These countries include Canada, Britain, Western Europe and many others. There are many other countries eligible and they are all listed on the Working Holiday Visa website.
S: What opportunities can a Canadian obtain on a Working Holiday Visa?
G: A Canadian can get the chance to gain professional experience and more importantly life experience in another country. They will learn about themselves, their passions in life as well as the opportunity to experience being out of their comfort zone. It provides the opportunity for a youth to grow into a professional adult, while at the same time experiencing the best of Australia – the climate, scenery, wildlife and most importantly making new friends and unforgettable memories.
S: What do you think are the 3 biggest obstacles and challenges that a youth faces when deciding to begin a Working Holiday Visa?
G: First and foremost would be going out on their own. Taking the step to fly halfway around the world on their own and experience being away from their family and friends in a place they are unfamiliar with. Secondly it would be thinking they don’t have the right background experience to succeed. Many youth would think they don’t have a strong enough resume, and they are unqualified to obtain work while overseas. Lastly I believe it is overcoming and breaking away from parents and friends who think travelling is not a worthy opportunity for growing. The pressure from friends and family who believe that travelling is not beneficial and will not further them in life is a huge challenge. I have to say that travelling has been the BEST decision I have made in my life and I have learned so much about myself and life because of it.
S: Going on with that, why didn’t you choose to move to Australia for a Working Holiday Visa earlier?
G: The timing at 27 is perfect for me, having already lived abroad in Latin American and Tanzania. Australia is the natural next step and a place that has always been a top destination spot for me. I wanted to see the world before settling down and I knew I had to get here before I turned 30. The time is right for me now and I want to call Australia home. I have always known that I would call it home and funny enough I wrote a project on wombats in grade 6 and my mom brought it out and showed me when I made the “Best Jobs” finals.
S: Why should Canadians choose Australia as a place to do a Working Holiday Visa compared to other countries?
G: Canada and Australia are very similar. They have similar economies, sense of humour, history, political and social structure as well as education. Also to add, Australia has great scuba diving, beaches and on top of all this, Australia has an amazing climate.
S: If you could give any piece of advice to someone considering a WHV, what would it be?
G: Plain and simple – Go for it! Follow that ambition and it will lead you to your dreams coming true. Put all fears aside and take that leap of faith because it will only be beneficial in the long run. I have a hard time thinking that it could ever be a bad thing; there are only positives to a WHV in Australia.
S: How would a youth beat the initial first challenge of financially being able to get to and live in Australia? (for example: a recent high school/university grad)
G: They really have to do their research. There are so many resources available for trying to find a job before you arrive in Australia. For example you can go on GoAbroad.com or Verge Magazine and check out some of their links to WHV resources.
S: What did you expect when you arrived in Australia for the “Best Jobs” finals?
G: Good-natured people, friendly and welcoming atmosphere, beautiful scenery, endless travel opportunities, good weather, sun and the opportunity for it to change my life.
S: When you arrived, what were your first impressions of Australia?
G: All the above and more. It was almost like walking into a dream, because I’ve wanted to come here for so long. The first 5 days were surreal – I had to pinch myself every time I looked at the Opera House. It was an amazing realization that I was in Australia and was following my dream. It was nice to know I was making the right moves for the better and towards a new adventure.
S: Lastly, if you could describe Australia in 3 words what would they be?
G: Friendly, Scenic and Vast.
S & G: There’s nothing like Australia.
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