I find that each time a message pops up from a long-lost Facebook friend or whenever I speak to people from back home, the same few questions are asked. My answers change in length and clarity depending on my mood and the person asking but they usually have the same general content. I figured this would be a great place to compile and keep a list of the questions I’m asked most frequently and my answers to them.
Would like to begin with a funny story about the term ‘FAQs’ though. We had a cleaning lady when I was a kid who we eventually let go because she raided our kitchen and let her kid play my Playstation. Anyway, one time I joined her kid while he was playing my Playstation (weird) and he was showing me all of these awesome cheats for GTA San Andreas. He had all these cheat sheets printed out from the internet from a site called ‘Game FAQs’ – which would go on to become my go-to cheat/tips website for the rest of my childhood. When I asked him about the site he told me “yeah my friend told me about it, it’s called game fags”. At the time I had no reason to question the pronunciation of the letter Q in this particular instance so I went with it. So that is the story of how I spent the next few years telling all of my friends about ‘Game Fags’, unknowingly using a gay slur whilst trying to help them beat their favourite game. On to the questions!
How much did you save before you left?
I saved roughly $10,000 AUD before I left for the US. This amount wasn’t purely in cash savings, there was certain travel investments I made and money that had been set aside to pay for things I knew I would need to pay for later on such as insurance and domestic travel. I arrived with $1000 USD in cash and the rest split between my travel card and my Australian bank accounts.
How did you find a job overseas?
My first role overseas was as a camp counsellor at an American summer camp. I got this role through a website dedicated to placing Australians at summer camps overseas. There are multiple different companies that provide this service, I personally used CCUSA but have many friends who went through different companies. Please note that it is basically impossible for the average joe to acquire a working visa for the USA and that the camps are done on a J1 visa which you cannot have any other form of employment on.
Before departure, I went through the necessary processes to obtain a Canadian IEC (International Experience Canada) visa. This visa allows me to spend up to 2 years living and working in Canada. I applied through the Canadian Government Website which was honestly a super easy process that anyone could do themselves. Do NOT pay a company to obtain your Canadian visa, you are literally giving them free money – it is so easy to do it yourself!
I initially moved to Toronto once I got to Canada and was lucky enough to secure a job in my first 3 days there. I joined some Facebook job groups for the industry I wanted to work in (hospitality) but I was pretty much open to anything at that stage. Fair warning though, I did succeed in getting a job through one of the Facebook pages, however I handed out 50+ resumes between the time I arrived and the commencement of that job and did not receive any calls for interviews. It is really about luck, being presentable, sociable and having a decent/good resume.
I will write an article at some stage on my time in Toronto and how/why it didn’t work out. I got in touch with some friends I’d met in the US a short time after arriving in Toronto who convinced me to fly out to Calgary on a one way ticket to get a ski hill job. I was lucky enough to be given the direct HR email to a couple of different hills. I arrived on a Sunday, interviewed on the Tuesday and moved in to staff accomodation on the Friday – again, this isn’t super common but sometimes life finds a way! Several of my friends have used various overseas job agencies such as The Working Holiday Club to find jobs prior to arrival. These services can be useful but they can also be an unnecessary expense for the frugal traveller.
Why’d you decide to travel/leave?
Essentially I felt that my life in Brisbane had become a little stale. Ironically, I had made so many new friends and reformed close bonds in the two years prior to my departure. I think I had always known that I would give living overseas a go at some stage, I just wasn’t sure when that would be. I was working full time, playing social sport again and spending a lot of quality time with friends and family. I constantly thought to myself though that I could be doing all of this overseas, in a foreign land with a foreign culture – finding out more about the world and myself.
I don’t think that independence was an aspect of it for me, but I do enjoy travelling alone just as much if not more than travelling with friends. Basically, there was nothing really tying me down in Brisbane, so why stay there working an essentially dead-end job to pay bills I didn’t really have? I knew that I would miss my friends and family and miss certain aspects of my day-to-day life, but (hopefully) they will all still be there when I get back one day.
Where are you going next?
At this stage, I have plans in place to begin a comprehensive road trip of the United States in April this year. I am thinking that this will take around 8-10 weeks, depending on how long I stay in certain places and how far my money takes me. I am picking up my friend Theresa halfway through my road trip and she’s going to come back to Australia with me so that we can both hopefully work and save to travel all throughout Asia at the start of 2019.
When will you be back?
As per my answer above, after the road trip I expect that me and T will arrive back some time in late June or early July. As for how long I’ll be back I can’t say, it could be 6 months it could be a year – I’ll be out again as soon as we have enough money to do what we want to do.
What’s your favourite city or place you’ve been?
This is such a tough question but it is one of the best ones to ask. I feel like this question will get you the most passionate answer from anyone who’s been overseas. For me, it’s a pretty close race between Los Angeles and Tokyo.
I feel at home in LA; I’ve been going there annually since I was 10 years old and I feel like by now I know it almost as well as Brisbane. Every time I touch down there and hop in the taxi to the hotel (Amy’s house from now on) it all feels so familiar. I know exactly where I’m going to head as soon as I drop my bags off, and that as long as it’s not a Sunday my first meal will be Chick Fil A.
LA is such an insane mix of cultures, it truly feels like a city that contains one of the most diverse populations in the world regardless of whether statistics back that up. So many of my favourite brands, artists, movies, athletes and subcultures got their start in LA. So many people in LA are trying to ‘make it’ and for that reason it has a magical aura that makes you feel like nothing is impossible.
Tokyo was such an incredible overload on all of my senses that I feel like I still haven’t processed it all almost 2 years later. I was only able to go for a week but I immediately knew it would hold a special place in my heart for the rest of my life. Despite the feelings I have towards LA, Tokyo is the city that I am always longing to return to. Tokyo has quite literally everything you could ever want. It is filled with history, technology, amazing food, brilliant architecture and of course Japanese people! You can spend your morning strolling through the palace gardens surrounded by beauty and serenity, then spend your afternoon in Akihabara surrounded by lights and crowds. You can go thrift shopping in Harajuku, then take the train to Ginza and empty your bank account at the store of ant designer you can think of. I have a feeling that I will go to Tokyo many times before I’m done, maybe I’ll even end up there one day.
What’s your craziest story?
Right now I would say its a 4-way tie between…
The time I drove across the Tennessee border to buy fireworks before letting them off in the Appalachian mountains.
The time I fainted in the shower, split my head open and woke up on the floor completely naked with two Scandinavian housekeepers mopping around my lifeless body.
The time I rode in the back tray of a pickup truck (ute) on the highway in the pouring rain singing High School Musical songs with Amy to try and keep our minds off of our impending deaths.
The time I rode a Skidoo (snowmobile) down the wrong run on the hill and nosedived it at 50kmh+ off of a small cliff and somehow didn’t die.
All of these stories can be expanded and explained if you’re interested, just send me a message!
Honourable mention to the time I got mugged in LA as described here.
What’s on your bucket list?
As of right now (‘x’ denotes that it has been ticked off)
- Mt Fuji
- Meiji Shrine – x
- Taj Mahal
- River Ganjes
- The Acropolis
- The Coliseum
- Eiffel Tower
- Grand Canyon – x
- Lake Moraine – x
- Rocky Mountains – x
- Mount Hood
- Niagara Falls – x
- Salem, MA – x
- New York City – x
- London Parliament
- Swiss Alps
- The Andes
- Antelope Canyon
- Isle of Skye
- Kanas Lake
- Mt. Everest Base Camp
- Faroe Islands
- Easter Island
- Loch Ness
- Havasu Falls
- Neuschwanstein Castle
- Horseshoe Bend
I’m sure I will add and remove places to/from this list as time goes on, but thats it for right now!
Hopefully I have covered most of the questions people wonder about me and my current lifestyle. If I haven’t covered a question you have, as always feel free to contact me through any of my social links or via email!