I’ve been working in the solar industry for a couple of years and as rewarding as it’s been, I made the difficult decision to leave it behind in 2017 and take on a new challenge: heading to Canada for a two-year working holiday and adventure with my fiancée Emma. We plan to explore the wilds of Canada and spend more time doing things like that kayaking on beautiful lakes with crystal clear waters, and spend less time at a desk.
Emma and I felt we needed a clean break that gave us the space to define what we wanted from life, not just what life ended up happening to us.
Aside from the thirst for adventure, new scenery and people, and freedom to plan our own 9-5 – all pretty attractive reasons for going (!) - Brexit was another motivator. The decision to leave the EU has left me feeling uncomfortable with the Britain I’ve always called home. Waking up the day after the referendum and feeling a lot less British was a disappointing realisation and the ongoing saga in the media and political landscape continues to worry me. I want my children to have the option to study abroad, and I believe immigrants and refugees should be welcomed rather than viewed with suspicion.
As for Canada - it's only a 7 hour flight, so a lot closer than New Zealand which we considered initially. Also the biggest national stereotype about Canada is that everyone is kind and friendly – so it was hard to argue with that!
We were blown away by the landscapes we discovered when we visited Canada last September. During our three week trip, we stayed in an eco-lodge in the middle of a national park, stand up paddleboarded on an empty beach just after a thunderstorm and were the first ones up the CN tower (due to a jetlag/watch time change error!). We returned to the UK certain that we wanted to go back to Canada to explore more, so we immediately started looking into visas.
We applied for the working holiday visa to Canada (which are limited to just 5,000 per year from the UK) and managed to both get one through the random ballot system.
The Yes moment
Leaving our jobs was admittedly scary, and the uncertainty of what we would actually do in Canada was nerve wracking, but wth everything that happened politically in Britain during 2015 and 2016, I felt less and less at home which made the pull of Canada even more enticing, and this feeling really overcame the initial fear of taking the plunge. In the end it was a leap of faith, but there's no better time to do it at 26 years old aand before we have any significant responsibilities.
What are you going to do in Canada?
We are not too sure yet! But the uncertainly is all part of the adventure. We plan to do some volunteer work in exchange for food/board (We’re currently at a vegetarian cafe and are planning to head over to a hostel on the East Coast). Aside from that we plan to simply explore the countryside, do some casual work and travel on the East coast. It's freeing in this world of planning and career paths to have a blank page in front of us.
As we're getting married in July, we plan to come back around May and then head out to Canada again in September. At that point we'll look at more permanent roles on the West coast, probably focusing on the charity sector. We have some grander ideas about driving from East to West coast in a camper-van too!
Do you plan to return to the UK?
Our visas run out in January 2019, so we will likely come back then, however we haven’t decided yet where we want to settle permanently, and staying in Canada may be an option depending on visas. With Brexit likely to be almost finalised by then, we'll be able to make a decision based on whether a post-EU Britain is the right place to live longer term.
You can follow our adventure here on Instagram: @thetravellingpickups
We post occasional updates on thetravellingpickups.blogspot.ca.