"First-off I would like to preface this with a massive THANK YOU! My journey to Ireland on the SWAP program has been an unparalleled experience that I never expected to touch my life on such a profound level. To your entire team who support youth-travel and cultural immersion - Thank you for all you do.
If I could make a single recommendation about being in Ireland to someone, it would be: JOURNEY! Ireland is such a rugged gem of diversity and it does not take much time or money (if you are penny-wise) to travel around. It takes roughly 3 hours to drive from the eastern coast of Ireland to its west coast! The visible changes in Ireland's landscape, scenery and (undoubtedly) weather make the drive well-worth it. It is incredible to see the subtle and not-so-subtle differences in the people of Ireland and their cities as well. Each county, city, village and town has a unique personality."
"I am a radiographer's assistant by day; an aspiring Gaelic footballer, surfer, coast runner or an Atlantic Ocean swimmer by night. You are never limited to just one thing, options and a whole lot of amazing opportunities is what you can get with a working holiday." (pictured on right)
"If you're on the fence about taking the working holiday, just take it. If you're on the fence of going through SWAP, also just do it. The cost basically pays for itself with what they provide you and the time and stress that is avoided.
I knew Australia had numerous, beautiful beaches, but I never expected them to be THIS numerous, or THIS beautiful. I had the pleasure of spending a week on 7 Mile Beach learning to surf (I know, pretty cliché) at a surf camp. It was sensational. Surfing is as challenging as it is fun, a must do for anyone spending time here in Australia."
"I have been in Japan now for 8 months and it has been nothing but an amazing oppurtunity! I have had the opportunity to not only experience the traditions and culture of Japan, but I have also met people from all over the world which has made it a very pleasurable experience because I now know people who are very similar to me, and it is always nice to have friends in different parts of the world for future exploring opportunities!
SWAP has been able to help me stay organized and feel confident about going across seas and finding work. I don't think I would have been able to organize something like this on my own. When I came across SWAP it seemed genius and was like a breath of fresh air!"
"New York is truly one-of-a-kind and far more than I could have imagined. I am lucky to have a perfect balance between learning valuable new knowledge at work during the week, and meeting new people and sightseeing on the weekends. I am completing a 10-week internship at a bank where I have gained invaluable knowledge and insights, and it has been a great and rewarding experience so far."
"I'm a bartender at a classic old pub. It's THE best. We have amazing customers and the staff and owners are so wonderful. I absolutely LOVE it! SWAP was so helpful with easing my mind and answering any questions I had along the way. They've been wonderful over here! Great group of people and the events they throw really help you meet people (which can be one of the hardest things). It's a great community and support system!"
"Apart from the travelling, another great part of my working holiday was the wonderful job opportunities. I was able to develop my professional career all while dabbling in different work sectors such as tourism, the charity sector and even the UK public sector! I was offered a permanent job at as a Marketing and Communications Assistant. I worked within a team and was greatly able to enhance my skills!"
"Six weeks. It's amazing to think how so much can change in so little time. Time and change are not linear. A dream, a wish, can all manifest in an instance of time and likewise can all create a lifetime of change. The memories I have of dancing the night away on the streets of Bangkok, laughing with the students as I attempt to speak Thai, fearing for my life riding on a motorbike, basking in the glow of feeling full after a delicious Thai meal fresh off the streets, are some that will last me a lifetime."
"Don't be afraid! Try new things, explore, meet new people. You will work all your life so have fun for a summer intern or a job in the middle of somewhere you don't know. There is one thing every employer wants and it's called EXPERIENCE! So, get out of your routine, live something new and get real experience. Your resume will thank you and you will thank SWAP to have the opportunities to be a Swapper. I am so happy to lived what I had live, I learn a lot about other culture and other people but even more about myself"
"Be willing to be flexible. My plan was never to stay and work in Darwin. I wanted to travel up the outback and continue down the West Coast. But a job opportunity became available and because of that I got the chance to see more of one place than I could have if I stuck to my original plan. I met the most amazing, friendly and welcoming people and had the most fun in this small town. And by far the coolest job I've yet to have. It's a wonderful experience that most people won't get the opportunity to have. So take a leap of faith and let yourself experience all the joys just waiting for you around the corner!"
"SWAP has made this experience as easy as it probably could have been for me. As a brand-new traveler little things like setting up a bank account and getting a tax number could have been extremely stressful, but SWAP helped me through it before I even arrived in the country. This really makes it easier and more exciting for someone who has no idea what they are getting themselves into. SWAP has really shaped my trip from the start without even realizing it. On my first day in New Zealand I met one of my best friends in an orientation. So many of memories and favorite moments of this trip would never had happened if I didn't meet her my first day and I'm super grateful I did."
"The SWAP program has been invaluable to me and is ultimately a big reason why I am living and working abroad. From the very beginning of the process, their knowledgeable staff answered all of my questions. And for me, particularly, I had a lot of anxiety not knowing what to expect about coming to Ireland and the employees I dealt with from SWAP program helped ease a lot of my worries. They were also are a huge help when it came to applying for my Visa. All in all, I would highly recommend going through the SWAP program because at the end of the day, if you need help or someone to talk, they are always there to help and encourage you through this life changing adventure!"
"Making friends, finding new passions, waking up to the sun-rise on the side of a hill on Waiheke. Staying the night on Tiri-Tiri and seeing 5 wild kiwi (among many other native species) and flying to Waiheke in a helicopter for lunch. Super helpful to have a "home-base" downtown [hosting centre]. I still use it as a place to hang-out when I need wifi or to charge my phone when I'm in town. Was really helpful in finding a job and writing my resume. Met some awesome travelers. Staff is incredible and always has a handy recommendation for when I'm bored and looking for something to do."
"My favourite part of my trip was meeting other people from all over the world and working with the animals at Ukutula first hand. I was worried about not making any friends because I was going alone, but as soon as I arrived in South Africa, I met so many incredible people. I grew a lot closer than I expected with some girls and still talk to them daily even though I'm home now. This trip has definitely left me with friends who will last a lifetime!"
"Having seen other people doing it without, I would highly recommend SWAP to everyone. It really takes a lot of the stress out. It took me about a month to find work, and I ended up advancing my career and making more than twice than what I made before!"
"SWAP is definitely worth every penny. Being a girl travelling abroad alone, I deeply appreciated that everything was taken care of for me, from the visa application to the transport voucher from Sydney's airport to my hostel. SWAP makes your arrival in a foreign country stress-free! They are the kindest and most helpful staff I have ever seen, and they even become friends. I do not regret putting my trust and money in the SWAP program."
"Worked with a great company named Ski Japan, I was a part of Niseko Base Sports team and worked in rentals and retail. I got to meet people from all over the world who came to this one town for a winter vacation. Having a job helped me connect with people and also offered me an insight into the culture, we have many co-workers whom their home was Japan so we were able to exchange cultural differences, stories from home it was amazing!"
"I really enjoyed the teaching placement. I taught in both public schools and in a centre. Teaching was a wonderful experience as Vietnamese children are quite eager to learn. Vietnamese children are very friendly and affectionate. They don't hesitate to run up to you and give you a big hug! The teaching environment is quite relaxed and the teaching assistants are very helpful in translating in the classroom."
"While in New York, I have been completing a six-month placement at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the department of photographs under the collections manager. The placement is a requirement of my graduate degree at Ryerson University in Photography Preservation and Collections Management. The internship was arranged before I came to New York, through my degree and an application process. I work three days a week at the Met on collections management tasks and I spend the rest of my time writing my Master's thesis." (pictured on left)
"My best piece of advice is to hit the ground running - and I don't mean checking off as many tourist attractions as fast as you can. Trust me, you'll have plenty of time for that. You'll receive a checklist during orientation telling you everything you need to do to get your paperwork in order and settle in. Devote yourself to accomplishing this list! Settling into Dublin, especially if you have no contacts, can be daunting (don't get me started on apartment hunting!), but SWAP will help you out every step of the way."
"I'm currently on my working holiday on the Isle of Mull in Scotland!! I'm currently working in a little town called Calgary, where Calgary Alberta actually gets its name from!! Going to see Tobermory on the Isle of Mull is a must!!! Its brightly coloured houses have to be seen, it is so unique on the Isle of Mull that I think everyone should try and get up here if they can!!"
"I was working as a development intern at a new film production company in Los Angeles, so I not only learned a great deal about the how development works, but also the entertainment industry as a whole. The job was a great balance of creative and administrative work, allowing me to learn everything from creating research packets for projects and creating casting suggestion lists to what it's like to cover a Creative Executive's desk. I couldn't have asked for a better internship."
"The first job that I had was as a groom and barn manager of a sport horse barn in Karaka. It didn't take long at all to find this job! Within 2 days of actively looking for a job I had an interview and was hired on the spot! The next job that I had was as a tour guide and part of the greens team at the Hobbiton Movie Set. This was an ultimate nerd dream come true! I've been a huge Lord of the Rings/Hobbit fan since I was a young child." (pictured on far right)
"Japan has immense natural wonders, which I was not aware of prior to arriving here. Within 1-2 hours of Tokyo you can surf, hike mountains, and visit pleasant rural villages. I guess my favourite area to visit would be Ichinomiya, Chiba. This is located just outside of Tokyo and has world class surfing. This small town is very relaxed and provides a very chilled out beach atmosphere where you can unwind after a long week in the city."
"So far, the best part has been all the amazing people I've met. But, going up the east coast of Australia and scuba diving on the great barrier reef was absolutely incredible. SWAP gave me confidence to go on this crazy adventure as a solo traveler. It made me feel more comfortable knowing I was getting some help and getting set up when arriving in a country I've never been too, and were always there to answer questions I had." (pictured on right)
"My job as a lifeguard is like a movie. Every day is a new challenge and experience. On a daily basis, I am saving lives and teaching people about water safety. It didn't take me too long to find my job before I started the program. One day I just decided to give my employer a call and see what could come out of it. SWAP helped me by reassuring me that they will always being there if I ever needed emergency help. If I ever have any questions they are just an email or a phone call away. Just roll a dice and go for it. It will be a great time you just need to take the first step. I am loving every single day of my program. It goes by fast."
"My trip to New Zealand has truly been a dream from beginning to end. From waking up in my yurt overlooking the ocean every day to hiking around Stewart Island (one word - penguins!), this country has shown me that life should be experienced with bare feet, music, and a sense of wonder! One of my top experiences was a nonstop adrenaline rush in Queenstown. If you travel to New Zealand, you'll probably never want to leave!" (pictured at centre, bottom row)
"My working holiday was an incredible experience. The great thing about London is that people from all over the world come here. London is truly multicultural. You can hear many different languages and accents just walking down the street every day. However, I think the greatest part of my working holiday was getting to experience the real London, the day to day existence. I could experience world class theatre, listen to amazing bands play in local pubs, and partake in quirky amazing events (pillow fight dances, masquerade balls, Jane Austen improv shows) that could also take place in a city of this scale. I found a job within a few weeks of arriving. I was taken on by a financial recruitment company and they kept me employed my entire time in London. I gained valuable work experience. I learned on the job... skills which have been very valuable here in Canada as well."
"Some of the best things would include seeing U2 in concert in their hometown of Dublin; happening upon a premiere of Alexander and getting a picture with Colin Farrell in his hometown of Dublin; happening upon a premiere of Collateral in Berlin and getting a picture with Tom Cruise; going to the Oxygen Music Festival; kissing the Blarney Stone; going for a gondola ride in Venice; visiting Stonehenge, the Eiffel tower, the Tower of London, the Anne Frank Museum, the Colosseum, Neuschwanstein Castle, the Cliffs of Moher, the Acropolis, the Checkpoint Charlie Museum; and randomly running into a friend from high school on two separate days in two separate cities in France. Lastly, meeting some truly amazing people while working and traveling in foreign countries." (pictured on Tom Cruise's left)
"During my time in Japan, I worked as an English instructor for children at an international school in Tokyo. The school was an English-immersion school for Japanese children, as well as children from foreign countries that resided in Japan. I was able to find and accept this position within two weeks after arriving in Tokyo. Working as an English teacher in Japan was the most gratifying and fulfilling role that I've had the pleasure of experiencing in my life. Through it, I saw myself grow in many ways. SWAP was incredibly helpful. During the working holiday, they were always there to answer any questions I had through their 24/7 support line. SWAP was able to assist me in finding a place to live, finding social events, getting set up with a Japanese bank account, as well as providing me with helpful resources. When I was confused, and had trouble with extending my visa after 6 months, SWAP was able to help me all the way through the process. Overall, I couldn't have asked any more of SWAP -- they were like a great friend from beginning to end."
"Ireland is a great base, especially Dublin. It's a huge tech hub and there are fantastic career opportunities with large international companies where you can really develop your skills. Being based here has allowed me to travel all through Europe and beyond. The people, the craic, it's second to none. I am working for one of the largest tech companies in the world in a role I adore - I even get to travel to destinations like Spain for meetings! It took me 6 days from landing to receive my job offer and I've now been in my role for a year."
"Being able to meet people from all over the world and spending time at the beach after work. Australia is just an incredible country and Sydney is a beautiful city to live in. You can get it all in Sydney, whatever you're in the mood for, whether it be hanging out at iconic beaches like Bondi, hiking through the Blue mountains or Royal National Park, enjoying the nightlife in the CBD, checking out live bands in the hipster scenes of Newtown, or taking a stroll in the rich neighbourhoods of Paddington and Vaucluse - Sydney is a one stop shop and a great starting off point for working holidayers."