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How A Working Holiday Changed My Life

I can tell you about how important my working holiday was to me and talk about the friends I made, but you still may not take my word for it. This is why I’ve recruited a few of my friends and colleagues to share their stories about their working holidays. They’re bloggers and photographers and clothing designers and entrepreneurs who share one thing: experience living and or working overseas. What they share could be a life-changing experience they had, friends they met, hobbies they picked up or even a relationship. So I’ll send it over to them!

Kristin Glenn, Seamly.co

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In 2009, I was bartending in Manly, Australia — prime occupation and location for a 23-year-old American on a working holiday visa. Amidst the surf and sun, I made friends with a Boston native. A few years later, we ended up co-founding a travel-based apparel company back in the States, raising over $60,000 on Kickstarter, and shipping our travel-friendly apparel all over the world. I even used my “working holiday tax refund” to partly fund the early days of the business! Most importantly, though, my time traveling taught me that nothing was out of reach. Moving halfway around the world, finding a job, making friends, managing money — all of it prepared me for business hardships, inspired creativity, and allowed me to meet a pivotal person in my life. 

Liz, Young Adventuress

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As an American it can be tricky to get long term visas overseas. I had heard that New Zealand has a working holiday visa that is relatively easy to get and lasts for a year and I decided to go for it once I quit my job to be a full-time travel blogger. That year I learned how much I loved living in New Zealand and wanted to stay for longer and worked to extend my visa to eventually become a resident. Eventually, I was able to get a talent visa for a few years. 

Christine, C’est Christine

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I spent a year on a working holiday in Australia–and honestly, the way it changed my life was through coffee. Melbourne was where I started really drinking coffee: I fell in love with the sunny cafes with lattes in glasses and avocado toast, and how passionate baristas were about their craft, and just how excellent the coffee was. My morning routine was a latte in the window seat of a cafe in Prahran, chatting with the baristas and reading the local paper–and those are some of my fondest memories! I now am fully committed to a wonderful coffee moment every morning–but it doesn’t quite compare with life in Australia.

Beverley, Pack Your Passport

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Before I went to Australia on a working holiday, I’d really never travelled independently. In fact, I’d never even been on a plane before I left the UK in 2010. I was leaping into the unknown and, while it was a scary prospect at the time, looking back it’s one of the best decisions I ever made. My naive, 25-year-old self had a lot of preconceptions about, not just other people, but other cultures. I’m ashamed to say, now, that I was quite closed-minded. That working holiday in Australia? It changed my perception of the world which, I know, sounds trite, but if I hadn’t taken that leap I wouldn’t have tried new foods or met people I’d never have met if I’d stayed in England. Travelling and working in another country opened my mind, it made me more accepting and, ultimately, gave me the confidence to continue exploring the world. 

Edna, Expat Edna

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I decided to move to Singapore on a whim when I was 20 and about to graduate university. I knew nothing about the country but discovered that Singapore offered a little-known Working Holiday Visa. Back then it was only S$40 to apply and I was approved within a week of my application — so I figured I may as well stay on the six months the visa allowed and have myself an adventure.

Because of my move to Singapore, I became involved in sports media and various jobs in communications. That led me to moving to Paris at 22, and soon after I was being paid to travel and cover sports events in places like Azerbaijan, Switzerland, Dubai, and both the London and Sochi Olympics. Those experiences eventually led me to move to Italy, and later Shanghai, where I made enough money to quit my job and travel full-time.

The past six years have been an incredible adventure — and my move to Paris even led me to my boyfriend, my travel partner in crime! Everything good that has happened in my life thus far, I see as one long domino effect that kicked off when I applied for that Working Holiday Visa in Singapore.

All photos are property of the ladies mentioned in this story and are used with permission.

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One Response to How A Working Holiday Changed My Life

  1. KareninCalabria February 1, 2016 at 2:19 am #

    All interesting stories. I dipped my toe into the foreign work experience later in life, so it’s fascinating to read about it from a different perspective.

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