Pre-Departure Preparations for Your Work & Travel Program Down Under
By Tami Shaloum
I am about to embark on the ultimate adventure. Tomorrow I will be flying to a completely unfamiliar country on the opposite side of the world where I don't know a soul, have no job and no place to live! I am participating in a Work and Travel program in Australia. I have an Australian Working Holiday visa, which is valid for one year. Once I arrive, I will receive two nights' accommodation in a centrally located hostel and attend an orientation to help with finding jobs. A tax file number will be set up so, by the time I arrive, I can open up a local bank account and have my paychecks deposited right into my account.
As you can imagine, I'm feeling a fairly wide range of emotions: excitement, apprehension, and a little sadness too at leaving my family and friends behind. Mostly it's this new feeling that I can only describe as openness, which is fitting considering I'm visiting the land of vast openness. It's a strong feeling of anticipation mixed with independence.
Before I left, I set up a blog to share with my family and friends so they can keep tabs on my Australian adventure. It will be a great way to communicate as they can also post comments, so it's almost like having a conversation. I will have free internet access through the program, so I'm not worried about connecting. Plus, supposedly there are internet cafes everywhere. I'm also bringing a mobile phone, which I borrowed from a friend who had studied abroad in Sydney a year earlier. If I didn't have a phone, I could purchase a relatively cheap mobile phone in Sydney for about $60.
As far as packing goes, I'm going with the "less is more" approach. I have a large camping backpack, which I'm stuffing with only the essentials: whatever clothing I will need for about 2 weeks in spring, summer, fall and mild winter, bathing suit, sensible but nice ballet flats, flip-flops (called thongs Down Under), sneakers, towel, sarong (to double as beach mat, bubble wrap for breakables, pillow, etc.), minimal toiletries since I can buy most things while there, a copy of Lonely Planet Australia, and a portable storage USB drive containing my resume and other critical documents including my scanned passport. Anything else I will need I can likely buy while there.
One last thing I want to say about the pre-departure process is how easy it is to get a visa to work and travel in Australia. No visiting a consulate, no appointments, just simply submit an application online, pay the AU$235 visa fee and wait up to 3 weeks). I found a flight with a student travel agency which allowed me to purchase a round-trip flight for around $1,600. I selected my return date for 4 months from my arrival but it's flexible so I can change it for a small fee. I may end up staying or going home in May, depending on how things go. I hope I end up staying.
Interested in escaping the American winter and traveling Down Under? Learn more about the program and apply today!
Read about Tami's arrival in Australia in her next blog next month!
A fan of independent cinema and proponent of the Oxford comma, Matthew began his career at a Miami-based tech startup before returning to West Virginia University to pursue his M.A. in Foreign Languages. He has worked at InterExchange since 2006 and currently serves as a Marketing Project Manager.