Now that I have been home for awhile and have had time to reflect on my working holiday in Vancouver, I’ve thought a lot about who I was before I left for Canada and who I am presently.
Prior to leaving, I was not in a good place. I had suffered a lot of personal blows and felt emotionally stretched. I lost my grandma, my job and had two car crashes in five months. I needed something to change in my life, and that came in the form of a working holiday visa.
I had thought about moving to the UK as my granddad is English, so I could easily apply for a five year ancestral visa. But for some reason, my mind wandered to Canada. My grandma was this amazingly positive woman and I wanted to honour her memory and live my life to the full. This to me meant following my heart and my wandering footsteps to foreign places.
In less than three months I filled out the necessary paperwork, booked my plane ticket and fled Brisbane. I spent fifteen months living and working in Vancouver, Canada and eighteen months in total away from Australia. This is how that working holiday changed me and my life.
I Grew (Like a Beanstalk)
I have always been an introvert and meeting people and making friends has always been a constant struggle. I’ve always had a few friends but never a large social circle. Then I moved to Vancouver and began working at Starbucks. My co-workers were so welcoming and it wasn’t long before we were meeting up after work for dinner, ladies night and sightseeing excursions. I taught them an Australian word of the day and they helped me understand the Canadian lingo, eh? Oh, how I laughed whenever someone ended their sentence with those two letters.
I also happened to meet Kate through a now defunct Aussies in Vancouver meetup page. We clicked instantly and my working holiday wouldn’t have been the same without her. We ate our way around the city, spent a lot of weekends at festivals, fell equally in love with Red Wagon, went to many gigs, became friends with the Aussie Pub owner and explored the city’s outskirts together. She was my partner-in-crime and my best friend. I can’t wait to be reunited with her back in Australia so we can continue to explore, side by side.
Read More: 10 Reasons to do a Working Holiday
My time in Vancouver was the most social in my life and for once I didn’t hate it. I enjoyed seeing new places and doing new things with new friends. I loved that they accepted me for my socially awkward self. I finally felt comfortable within myself and felt that I belonged, which was the biggest personal gain.
Since being home I have returned to my reclusive self in a way, as there are not a lot of chances to meet people on an island. But once I find my new permanent home, I don’t want to become my old self again. I want to meet like-minded people who make me feel as loved as my Canadian friends did.
I hope you are all reading this and know I had never felt heartbreak before leaving you behind. But I hope our paths cross again and thank you for changing me in the best way possible.
I Had Fun at Work
I know, shock horror, who actually enjoys their job? Well, I did. For the first nine months I worked two jobs: at Starbucks and on the Aussie Pie Guy food truck. Then for the final five months of my working holiday I worked full time on the food truck and I loved my job.
Yes, there were times and people that stressed me out, but for the majority of my employment I enjoyed going to work every day. I worked alongside great people who were more than my co-workers, they were my friends. We had fun at work listening to trashy 90s music, drinking our daily Starbucks and serving our friendly regulars.
I also met other great people through this job, including the employees at the breweries we regularly parked outside and other food truck owners. We traded food and beer and stories and most days it didn’t feel like my job.
Now I want that feeling again. I don’t want to work somewhere that I hate and that slowly sucks the life out of me. I honestly have no clue what this job will be – I never expected to enjoy working on a food truck in Vancouver – but I’ll let you know once I do.
I had these wild ideas prior to moving that my working holiday experience in Canada would be similar to people doing the same in the UK, where it seems most people jet off to a different European city monthly. But alas, this didn’t happen. During my stay in Vancouver I managed to visit Seattle, Portland, Squamish and Whistler for weekends, but that was it.
But I couldn’t live in North America and not see it, so I saved up what I could (thanks mum and dad for the extra loan) and spent just under three months traversing Canada and the United States (with an afternoon in Mexico). I did a massive circle from Vancouver over to the East Coast, across Southern USA and up the West Coast.
I gained confidence with each stop and each hostel. I adored seeing a new city every few days. I loved walking around and capturing places with my new DSLR. I was proud of myself for constantly stepping out of my comfort zone and embracing the unknown. This solo adventure changed me in a lot of good ways, including ensuring my wanderlust is still running strong through me.
I Could Do It Again
My heart and my head are constantly torn between what they want in the future. Now that I have lived the expat life, I feel I’d like to do it again somewhere else in the world. It doesn’t have to be right now, but in the future I would love to live in a different country again – perhaps with a special someone by my side?
But then there is also the part of me that would like to have a home and nest for awhile. I realised recently that in the past six years I have lived in six different houses. And although this doesn’t bother me much, I think settling down for a little bit wouldn’t be so bad. I am that girl who constantly browses craft and design blogs, and has become obsessed with watching the Lifestyle channel on Australia’s version of cable. I imagine all the wonderful things I could do with my own apartment. Oh, and I kind of want a dog. Now that’s nesting.
Thank you, Working Holiday
My working holiday changed my perspective on life. It helped me to grow personally, have fun professionally and realise that I can do and be anything I desire. It allowed me to realise that from now on, I will always follow my heart and do what makes me happy. Whether that is living in another country again, settling in Australia or living the nomad life, I am not sure.
But what I do know is I am so glad I took the leap, stepped out of my minuscule comfort zone and went on a working holiday to Canada. It changed me in big ways and little ways, but all positive ways. Thank you, Vancouver for helping me become a better version of myself.