By most people’s standards, I had made it. I had a good job - glamorous even to some - great benefits and off-the-chart raises every year. By no means was I rich, but I paid all my bills and made it work. I had my own apartment in New York City, my life all planned out according to subway line, volunteer work, and a vibrant social life. I was living in the largest and arguably the most exciting city in the world, but something was still missing.
Maybe it’s that I did have everything in place, or that I didn’t know where I should advance within the company, or maybe that I was just getting tired of living my life up-close-and-personal with millions of other people. But I had to get out.
I’d spent hours at my desk fantasizing where I’d like to live, what kind of life I’d like to have, or to which far away place I could escape. I knew I was at a crossroads and that I had to do something big, and eventually I managed to channel all that confusion into a plan. Several of my British friends had done unconventional things like spending six months in another country just to learn the language or traveling the world on their own. For someone in the UK, this is typical, especially during the traditional “gap year” between high school and university. But this type of trip is a big deal in the average American girl’s life, yet that made me more determined to do it myself. I thought, if British girls can do it, why can’t I? Sure, I had no spare money… after all I was living in New York! But there is more than one road to one’s future.
I began researching programs on the internet – bless the internet! All I had to do was Google “Work Abroad Program” and compare prices and policies. BUNAC was my program of choice: British Universities North America Community. People under aged 30 – especially students – can request a working holiday visa from any of several countries, buy a plane ticket and have the time of their lives. The program processes your visa, provides temporary housing and job hunting advice, and acts as a “home base” within your destination: including mail, email, travel, and luggage storage services. All you need is the program fee and an airline ticket showing entry into and exit out of the country. I filled out the necessary forms, braced my boss for what was to come, and I was in!
The Australian Immigration Department granted me a 4 month working holiday visa, beginning in January of 2005. I immediately went to the library and took out stacks of books on the history of Australia, the geography, the culture, and touring. I read everything from its exploration and settlement through to its present-day pop culture.