- Want a job that will take you to dizzying heights? Today's #goSWAP job will do just that: Skywalk Guide ($15/hr), NZ. Don't look down!
23 hours ago
- @chrissykeech There are TravelCuts locations in Toronto+Ottawa- have a look here to find the closest office to you: http://t.co/YNm837xTLY
1 day ago
- @chrissykeech Yup, you'll have to apply in person. Registration will open in January!
2 days ago
- My heart doesn't usually melt when posting a #goSWAP job, but... awww! Now hiring in Christchurch, New Zealand: Puppy Minder ($13.75/hr).
2 days ago
- @chrissykeech Great! That's super-exciting!!!
2 days ago
- Want a job that will take you to dizzying heights? Today's #goSWAP job will do just that: Skywalk Guide ($15/hr), NZ. Don't look down!
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Christy is having her big work abroad adventure and sharing her experiences with all of us. Find out why she chose the UK, and why she went with SWAP here
Congratulations to one of our SWAPPERS Maddie who is currently working for the London 2012 Olympics! She signed up for SWAP UK last summer and is currently at the forefront of all the Olympic action. Check out some of her exciting photos! For more backstage access, you can connect with Maddie via twitter: @madelinezekkou
Thanks to Maddie for sharing her photos! More of her Olympic journey can be found via twitter @madelinezekkou
By Mary Bantug, SWAP UK Veteran
Before I went to the UK for a year, I was on this planned out, safe and stable (albeit boring and predictable) path. I had just graduated from university, and was in the mix of a 9 to 5 career when I decided I didn’t want to be on that path forever; at least not without anything interesting happening in between.
Enter UK SWAP.
I was still on an England high, having completed a Summer Abroad in Oxford the previous year when I decided that I needed to see more of Europe. I saved all my pennies, bought a one way ticket and 8 hours later, I was at Heathrow airport.
But wait! It wasn’t THAT easy. My parents didn’t warm up to the idea of having their eldest daughter moving thousands of miles away to a different country on a different continent alone at first.
How did I convince them? Well here’s a bit of background info, my family (mom, dad and sister) moved from the Philippines to Canada in 1988. It was for the same reasons everyone else was leaving a 3rd world country; for a better life, in a better country with better opportunities for their children. A- HA!
I argued and cried, and asked why they moved us here if they wanted us to live by the book and to just finish school, get married and have kids? We could have easily stayed in the Philippines, and I probably would have done all of that by age 25. What was the point of having all the opportunities that being Canadian afforded us if we weren’t going to take advantage of them? They instead wanted me to just stay in Toronto, to save up and buy a place – after all, wasn’t that the next chapter in the book of life?
I won that round.
My year in the UK seems blurry now – a great mix of historical experiences, accents, Ryanair flights, lessons learned and a new outlook on life.
I was based out of London, and I must say this was a great place to travel from because not only does it have a handful of airports to leave from, it also has discount airlines like Ryanair and easyJet at your disposal where return flights are sometimes less than 5 pounds.
In just 365 days, I saw/visited/did the following:
United Kingdom: The great Stonehenge, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the Royal family, the Cavern bar (where the Beatles got their start), Liverpool, Bath, Brighton, went Horseback riding in Wales and almost fell off, stepped in both the Eastern and Western hemisphere at the SAME time
Amsterdam: Anne Frank House, the Heineken factory
Germany: theBerlinwall, Sachsenhausen Concentration camp, the Brandenburg Gate
Egypt: the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, Abu Simbel, swam in the Red Sea, rode in a fellucca down the Nile River, rode on a camel and almost fell off
Norway: saw the famous Scream painting by Edvard Munch
London was also a great place to live and make friends. In just a year, I had made friends from literally all over the world; my flatmates were from Germany, South Africa and Spain and I had friends from all over Canada and from Australia and New Zealand.
Even though I left the UK almost two years ago, I still keep in touch with them and hold the memories with them very close to my heart.
North America vs England
After a year of hearing British and other European accents daily, I’ve also noticed little differences between Europe and North America. Apart from the cars driving on the left side of the road, here are a few other things I noticed:
In North America, the “@” symbol is above the number 2 key on the keyboard. InEngland, on most keyboards, it is SOMEWHERE ELSE! The pound symbol took its place above the number 2 key. I was so shocked!
Their fashion sense is amazing. No Duh. I never fully understood whyLondon,Paris and Milan were meccas of the fashion world until I lived inLondon. I left London two years ago, and only in 2012 am I seeing in Toronto, what I saw in London then.
Everyone wears cuff links. You don’t have to be a 75 year old british nobleman to wear them, like the way they portray in the movies. I’ve seen even women wear them.
You can drink on the street and you won’t get arrested. You can drink during lunch on a week day and it’s encouraged. You can drink on work premises and it’s not a problem. You can pretty much drink anywhere. Now if only we North Americans can learn THIS from the British..I mean we copied everything else didn’t we?
I always knew that “chips” meant “fries” – but that was the extent of it. After a year inEngland, I had added to that list of english words that meant other things:
“Take away” (food) = take out food
“Trainers” = sneakers
“Fiver” = five bucks
“Asian” = South Asian
“Snowed in” = swamped with work (this one in particular made me laugh, maybe because I’m Canadian)
Almost two years have gone by since I was slowly dragging my luggages back home to Canada, but still, it feels like only yesterday when I was checking in at the hostel. My year in the UK has been one of the best experiences in my life so far, not only did I see more of what the world had to offer, I also learned so much about myself when I wasn’t even planning to.
I learned that I like the taste of Earl Grey tea; that I hate large corporations that only exist for the money; that I can survive two weeks with only my backpack. Most importantly, I learned that while age is just a number, it’s also an indication of time when I could have done other things instead of what I actually did. For example, instead of working away for 7 years working while doing my undergrad, I could have travelled more, I could have volunteered more, I could have made a bigger difference. Because of this I learned to make the most of now. To live my dreams now and stop thinking that the future is still a long time away. Seven years can go by just as quickly as two years, and I don’t want to look back 5 years from now wishing I did things differently.
Regine is about to do SWAP (47 days and counting!) Before registering she had to make the classic choice: Australia or UK. Check out how she decided and follow her pre-adventure getting ready to go for it here
When I was younger I always assumed I’d travel once a year and eventually see
every corner of the earth. I assumed this would happen IMMEDIATELY after starting
my jewellery design business (which I jumped into fresh out of art school) because
everyone knows that a small business makes money right off the bat, right?
Well, a few do, but for the majority it usually takes at least 5 years to get established. Once
I started making money it was put into saving for a condo, then paying for a car and
a mortgage and having very little left (read: nil) for any kind of travel. “One day.” I
would tell myself. Then one day turned into the next and the days started to turn
into years. I realized that “one day” wouldn’t come if I didn’t nudge it along a little.
The nudge I needed came in the form of my 20-year high school reunion. It dawned
on me like a bolt of lightning (so no, not in a subtle way) that I wasn’t happy in my
current situation anymore, both personally or professionally. It took about a year
of humming and hawing but I finally decided the only thing to do was what I should
have done 15 years prior; give myself permission to live the life I knew I was meant
to be living. In 2011 (the year I turned 40) I left my boyfriend and business partner
behind and spent 6 glorious months traveling through Europe on my own.
Up to this point I’d done a fair bit of traveling in North America. With my business I
was able to visit New York City 3 times a year for trade shows. My parents took us
on a road trip across Canada and the states when I was 11. Then, the summer before
I started jewellery school I did a road trip across Canada with 2 friends. I’m sad to
report that we made it as far as Prince Edward Island so Newfoundland is still on my
bucket list. The year I turned 30 I had my first taste of Europe. This small sampling
gave me a hunger to discover the rest of this fantastically diverse continent, which
came to fruition a mere 10 years later.
Where did my travels take me? 21 countries, 18 language barriers, 11 currencies
and countless train rides.
And what did I do with myself for 6 whole months? Well, I love beer and the
European’s know how to do beer, so let’s just say I did a lot of sampling… And I
ate, oh, how I ate! Cheese tarts in Switzerland, tapas and pinchos in Spain, olives in
Greece, baklava in Turkey (the Turks make the best!) gulas and dumplings in Czech
Republic, puffin in Iceland and bitterballen in the Netherlands; that’s deep fried
gravy balls to you.
I rode a really old rollercoaster in Copenhagen, almost got married off for a few
camels in Turkey, saw La Traviata in Rome and rode an angry donkey in Santorini.
I saw Norway in a Nutshell, had a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia and saw the
Northern Lights in Reykjavik. I got buck-naked in a steam room in Munich (that’s
what they do in Munich), swam in the Ligurian Sea and went spelunking in Slovenia.
I visited the Vasa warship in Stockholm, saw Flamenco in Seville, visited the ruins of
Pompeii and spent my 40th birthday with family and a bunch of sheep in Germany
(yes, I said sheep.)
I learned things while traveling that I don’t think I could have learned any other
1.) I don’t always panic at the drop of a hat.
2.) I’m not as shy as I thought I was.
3.) Even when you don’t speak the same language you can still understand and be
4.) Experiences are more important to me than possessions.
5.) I also learned that I could write. How could I not have known this? Until now
I’d never really had anything that inspired me to put pen to paper but before I
left I decided to start a blog and post a few photos and scribble a few words once
in a while. One day turned into the next and I found myself blogging every night.
At first I was doing it solely for myself, then I realized that my friends and family
were relying on their daily dose of living vicariously through me so I HAD to keep
blogging! I’m so glad I did because not only do I have a wonderful online diary of
the fabulous things I saw, I felt like I was sharing my experiences with the people
I was missing back home. I absolutely adored traveling by myself, but it can get to
you when you’re doing something awesome, or seeing something that takes your
breath away to not have someone to ooh and ahh with, so the blog filled that need of
sharing that “Isn’t this the coolest thing ever?”
In a perfect world I wish I’d have figured this out a little sooner than I did, but I’m
just grateful that I didn’t continue to ignore my inner voice that was telling me
(strike that, SCREAMING at me) to get out there and discover my true calling. I’m
happy to report that because of my travels, I did.
*More Travel Blogs from Andrea http://www.living-my-life-in-reverse.com
By Chris McHugh, current UK SWAPPER
Before you go on your SWAP working vacation (or any vacation for that matter) it’s a good idea to create a list of things you want to do and see. Not only will it act as a reminder, but it will give you a sense of accomplishment as you tick things off one by one. Since I’m a huge tennis fan, close to the top of my list was “See at least one day of Wimbledon.” Read about why it was a day I’ll never forget, here
We knew it all along, travelers are sexy. Now we just have some hard evidence to back it up. A survey of Australian singles shows that travel makes people more attractive.
The survey finds that 55 percent of respondents believe that a potential mate’s listing travel on their profile makes them more attractive. Read more
It’s time to cross the pond. We pack our bags and board our flight to Heathrow. We cruise through the Atlantic with ease and endure the Chicken a la plastic served on board. As we wait to exit the plane, we chat with fellow passengers. Some say they’re from Scotland while others consider themselves English, pilot joins in and says he’s British. Cue head scratch.
This happens to the best of us even though we watch BBC on the regular. Let’s face it, there’s just too many geographical and political terms involved with the UK and it’s been years since high school geography.
One great way to untangle these ambiguities is to visit scholarly sources such as Youtube. C.G.P Grey enlightens us with his video The Difference Between the United Kingdom, Great Britain and England Explained. It’s short and informative; definitely worth a look before you head to the UK.
——————-> Click here for video
Video courtesy of CPG Grey: cgpgrey.com
By Elise Newman, SWAP staff member
In less than six weeks, I’ll be heading off on my trip that the cool cats would call RTW. That’s round the world. I might be back in 2 weeks, but in case I do follow through with my plan of not planning too much but at least making it to the other side of the world and back, there’s a lot to think about. …like these things
Note from SWAP: Elise is leaving us at the SWAP office to do SWAP Australia. She is taking full advantage of the fact that you have a year to enter Australia after the visa is issued- she figures she might as well see some more amazing parts of the world before activating her Australia visa. We will miss her very much, but we do understand the appeal of working abroad all too well!
If you are bilingual (French and English) and want to be part of the SWAP team, please apply details here
By: Chris McHugh, SWAP UK contributer
London can be very similar to Toronto sometimes, while other times you just don’t know what’s going on. We’ve been here for a little over a month now and I’d like to tell you about some of the differences I’ve noticed while living here. Some things will be trivial, some will make you say “Huh…?”, and some will make you praise English ingenuity. So let’s start out with the most important thing to know if you’re going to visit the UK..here
…SWAP might have make a video like this. Definitly very worth checking out (warning: you will want to start travelling immediately).
If you can’t afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars (at least) in 10 days, working abroad might be a better option for you! The UK, South Africa and France are featured in this video. Check out all our destinations here
The SWAP Team
Book-lover? Travel-lover? Missing school? Why not read books set in your SWAP destination, check out literary landmarks, and visit the coolest bookstores in your SWAP destination?
Visit literary landmarks in London with Twenty-Something Travel’s handy Book-Lover’s Guide to London.
Off to Germany? The Guardian has made a list of the Top 10 Books set in Berlin.
And if you’re in France, don’t forget to spend an afternoon in Shakespeare & Co, probably the most-photographed bookstore in the world. Speaking of the world, check out Flavorwire’s list of The 20 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World.
Hanging out with the Kiwi’s these days? Here are some ideas of how to catch a good view of this scenic country.
What better to begin with than skydiving. Definitely seems like the ‘in’ thing to do in this country, considering how many places there are to choose from. If you enjoy your first dive, try another venue for some different scenery.
Introducing the World’s Largest Swing: The Nevis Swing. Be warned that this is not your traditional type of swing, but if you’ve been graced with an adventurous and fearless spirit this is right up your alley. Can only be described as similar to bungee jumping, check out the video on the website to see how this works.
In Auckland check out the chance for a double adventure at the Auckland Sky Tower. You can go for a walk along the tower’s edge, or jump off (or both if you feel so inclined). **Please sign up for these activities with the people working there and don’t attempt them yourself, we don’t mean for you to get that crazy.
The SWAP Team
Australia: The Melbourne Jazz Festival – You’ll want to make your plans to attend this festival this month, as it runs from June 1 – 10 in – you guessed it – Melbourne.
Running for over 10 years now, be sure to check this out if you feel like snapping your fingers along to some smooth sounds.
Austria Spring Festival – Taking place from May 16 – 20 this year, this festival focuses on electronic art and music. Head down to Graz in Southern Austria to take in the European festival.
France Night of the Museums – On May 19, Museums across Paris will stay open through the night for you to explore exhibits and learn something new. Don’t miss out on this free event.
Germany Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest – Which translates to the Stuttgart Spring Festival, takes place from April 21 – May 13 and celebrates the end of winter. Check this festival out for beer tents, oompah bands, and lots of fun.
Ireland Connemara Mussel Festival – From May 4-6 taste some local seafood cuisine in Connemara, Galway. The combination of music and mussels promises to be good craic.
Japan Shunki Reitaisai – The Grand Festival of Spring takes place in Sannai, Nikko City from May 16-17. Watch the parade of people dressed like Samurai and dancers around the shrine Nikko Toshogu, a recognized World Heritage Site.
New Zealand New Zealand International Comedy Festival – Running in Auckland and Wellington from April 27 – May 20, this festival features comedians from all over the world. Go on and a have a laugh, you’ll need a sense of humour as winter begins to set in.
South Africa Good Food & Wine Show – Check out this event in Cape Town from May 24 – 27 to rub shoulders with celebrity chefs and taste some delicious cuisine.
Thailand Yasothon Bun Bangfai Rocket Festival – This takes place in Phya Thaen Park from May 5 – 9, and it sure to be explosive. This ancient festival originated on the origins of bringing good luck for the upcoming rice farming season.
United Kingdom Brighton Festival – From May 5 – 27 there will be a combination of music, theatre, dance, art and much more in Brighton, England.
So you’re calling Japan your new home and you want to see it from another angle. Here are a few ideas for you.
Go for a Glider Experience in Takikawa and feel the freedom of flying without an engine. A plane pulls your glider up into the air and then lets you (and your pilot) coast through the air. Bravery required.
Been stuck in a winter rut? Parasailing over the snow should help disperse your blues. Let a snow mobile pull you as you sail up above. Don’t forget to dress warmly!
If you’re going to Tokyo (which seems like a must in Japan) go to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office for a panoramic view of the city. The viewing is free and on a clear day you can see Mount Fuji.
In Kyoto check out the Kiyomizu Temple for a view of Kyoto city and numerous cherry and maple trees. Best time to go is the spring or the fall to see the trees in their true beauty. But seeing as the temple was founded in 780, it guarantees to be interesting at any time.
Enjoy a mixture of gardens and a view? Head to Osaka’s Umeda Sky Building for this combination then. The building consists of two towers that are joined by a floating garden on the 39th floor, giving you a chance to smell the roses and take in the views of the city.
The SWAP Team
Waiting around to hear if you got that job? Have you been told that a raise is coming five months ago? Have you been telling yourself that there will be time to travel later?
If you’ve answered yes to the questions but have a feeling that you should stop waiting and start doing, then now is the time! Check out Elise’s blog for some inspiration on taking a big leap. If she can do it, why can’t you?
The SWAP Team
What better way to see this country’s famous 40 Shades of Green than from above?
One way to get yourself off the ground is rock climbing. This website suggests all sorts of places for you to go for this type of adventure. Rookie rock climber? Have no fear, there’s also a link for where to go for lessons.
On the west coast, head to The Cliffs of Moher to gain some height on the country’s edge. On a clear day you can see the Aran Islands, but as it’s not clear that often in Ireland, don’t go solely for that view. Enjoy the walk, the photo opps and the waves crashing against the cliffs below.
Down south in County Cork? Try zip lining through River Valley on a guided tour with your friends. A combination of zip lines, rope bridges, obstacles and forest trails is sure to provide a new view, and it is only a 30 minute drive from Cork City.
Want to see Dublin City from higher ground? Head up to The Gravity Bar as the last stop of your tour of the Guinness Brewery. Enjoy a pint of Guinness while you take in the 360° views.
Put your walking shoes on for this next adventure. Follow the trail in Connemara National Park to the top (or choose one of the less daunting trails if you were experiencing the Irish nightlife the night before) to see rolling hills in every direction.
The SWAP Team