(guest blog from RW client, Louise Pitman)
Deciding to go on my working holiday was the hardest part about going on my working holiday...
Prior to deciding to go on my working holiday, I was studying full time at Uni and I also had a contract working full time in a real-world job in my industry. My job was great – I was working on an important project for the State Government in a department linked to my degree. It was a first key step for getting my dream career after graduating.
When my best friend asked me if I wanted to join her on a year-long overseas adventure, I was tempted sure, but it just seemed too hard. I loved my job, and while the project I was working on was coming to an end, there was talk of me being assigned to a new project once the first was completed. I wanted to stay “in” with this department for as long as I could! As well, I was in a serious relationship, and I started to think about everything that was involved and what I had to lose. I wondered, how much money would I need to have saved, how do you even apply for a Visa or Work Permit, and what about health insurance? When I weighed up all that I had to lose and what was involved, it seemed like the decision to stay was the obvious one.
I told my best friend that I would love to go but it was just not the right time for me but really in retrospect, I realise now that I was just scared. Scared of the unknown and scared of losing what I had...
My friend then told me that there were professional companies out there who specialise in helping people like us go on working holidays abroad. I was surprised at how affordable it was. After thinking about it more and after hearing my friend tell me about the exciting experiences her brother and boyfriend (now husband, aww) had when they were on their working holidays, I was starting to reconsider. My friend was doing her best to convince me and it was working a little bit.
So fast-forward, I decided to take the leap and just go for it! Hey, we are only young once as they say. I realised that timing is not always perfect. I would just be putting it off and my friend seemed keen to go without me, so I would be spending my Summer missing her while she was out on an adventure and I would be wondering what I was missing out on. I decided that I would go on the working holiday but for a shortened time – I could commit to 4 months.
My friend and I had a job lined up to work together and our Visas were all sorted before we left. We were going to be roommates for the first time. We were stoked! When we got there, we met lots of cool people from around the world who were around our age and were all in the same boat – looking for a new experience and working to finance it! The clever way to do it.
There was a large number of staff at our workplace and we could take trips on our days off and explore the local surroundings. Our workplace organised staff events such as movie nights, so afterhours we could just talk and get to know each other. Our work even planned a pizza party and bowling night – me and my best friend still talk about the trip we did, now years later.
After about the 2 month mark, I realised that I was enjoying this working holiday thing so much that I didn’t want to go back to Brisbane in April as I originally had planned. I decided to take the full year off since my visa was valid for 2 years and yes this decision did involve deferring another semester of Uni., but so what? Uni can wait, I thought. I contacted my old job and told them about my change of plans. They understood - in fact they were supportive of the opportunity I had. My boyfriend was understanding and my parents, just were happy that I was happy and safe.
On our way home, my bestie and I travelled around the country and we saw so many different things, places and met lots of interesting people. We ate a lot and drank too much, got so sunburned that we had to spend 2 days recovering in our air-conditioned hotel room because we could barely move, but we had an amazing time! I regret nothing!
When I did finally get back home, I contacted my old job, and good news – they had a new project for me to work on. I reunited with my boyfriend and my family and friends. When people asked me how my working holiday was I would say “amazing” and “so good” but I couldn’t accurately convey to them truly how amazing and good it was. I quickly fell straight back into my old routine and soon, it was as though I had never left. Everything else was the same but it was me who had changed. My advice to any young person is thinking about travelling is to just do it! You get to learn so much about yourself when you put yourself in a different, at times, challenging situation and overcome it – that is growth right there. Getting out of my comfort zone for me was one of the biggest benefits. I believe it helped me develop strength and resilience and confidence in myself. In fact, it gave me the confidence to go on another extended overseas trip, this time on my own – I left for six months and I never came back. I had no idea that my life would change so drastically because of that decision. I met my husband five months in to my six month trip. I am now a full fledged Aussie ex-pat (living in Canada)... but that’s a story for another blog post!