Today marks my two year anniversary of living and working in Australia. If you told me 3 years ago that I would be living and working in Sydney Australia, I would laugh in your face. Being a risk adverse individual, I’ve always dreamed of traveling the world but felt like something was holding me back. I’ve come to realize, that it was me that was holding me back. To be fair, it was an external force that kicked me in the butt. Allow me to elaborate.
The beautiful sunset, not knowing tomorrow will be my last night here
February 8, 2016, Chinese new year, Year of the Monkey. Chinese New Year in my household was a big deal, it’s a bigger deal than Christmas. We usually gather together with friends and family to celebrate the coming of a new year at my uncle’s big house on the lake. Everyone was wishing each other good luck in the new year. It was a happy time and I remembered thinking it was just another year. Little did I know, this year would differ from all the other years and it was going to happen in a blink of an eye.
February 9, 2016 at 11AM, it started out like any other work day until I was called into my senior manager’s office. To give you a bit of background, this was during the time when the price of Crude Oil had dropped significantly to the point where the price of a barrel of oil was below break-even point. The company that I worked for was very project driven in the oil and gas industry. Alberta’s, the province where I am from, main industry was oil and gas and at one point the economic driver of the GDP in Canada. News were consistently broadcasting that different major oil and gas companies were shelving major projects and were conducting significant layoffs. People were out of work and had difficulty finding a job to the point where the government had to extend the period of how long you are able to stay on Employment Insurance. To help you paint a picture of the extent of the layoffs happening in Alberta starting in 2015, I found an article and news video clip by Global News Canada “2015 worst year for Alberta jobs losses since 1982“.
Rewind back to February 9, 2016, I was called into my senior manager’s office, whom by the way, I rarely interacted with on an operation level due to the nature of my role. I remembered muttering to my co-worker at the time saying “looks like I am being laid off” half joking but half serious. When I walked into his office, the HR lady was already sitting there waiting for me, I knew instantly what was going to happen next. I don’t really remember what the HR lady had said or what my senior manager said, I just remembered thinking, “I don’t have to work this afternoon!” Before you know it, I was escorted to my desk to grab my things that I would need immediately and then I was sent on my merry way.
I started walking towards my car and the feeling that I had was so surreal. Although it was still winter, the sun was shining and the snow was melting. The weather couldn’t be more perfect. I drove home with the window down with the crisp wind blowing on my face. It felt like the windows of opportunities had opened for me. I realized at that moment, a huge burden was lifted off my shoulders and I was free. This was definitely the well-wishing that I received from the New Year, a blessing in disguise.
You see, prior to my lay off, I had recently returned from visiting my cousin who was doing her working holiday in Australia. I admit that Australia was never on my top 10 list to visit, let alone living and working there. I thought I might as well visit since I know someone that lives there and of course, free accommodation. When I got there, I was surprised how hard and fast I fell in love with the country. I could actually see myself living there.
I recall the next seven months of unemployment was probably one of the happiest times of my life. I was working out everyday (I’ve NEVER worked out a day in my life}, I started to volunteer at a humane society (again, NEVER volunteered a day in my life) and started spending more time with my friends and family. Those seven months gave me time to reflect and re-evaluate what I was doing with my life and what I wanted to do with my life. Since returning from Australia, I realized that I’ve wanted to live and work abroad but never had the guts to do it. I recall speaking to one of my older co-workers at that time and she said something that stuck with me, “Time is a valuable commodity, Money you can always earn back”. Since then, that has motivated me to do what I wanted to do. Therefore, I figured the easiest way to do that was to do a working holiday. I came across a website called Global Goose that listed which countries had working holidays visa, how much is the visa and how much money you will need in the bank. It was definitely an eye opener since I didn’t even know that there was so many working and holiday visas available to Canadians.
The reason why I chose Australia is because:
- Everyone speaks English so it would be easier for me to find work
- I had first hand encounters of individuals that have done working holidays in Australia
- Culturally similar but still different
- Weather is way more ideal
- Australia is more open to working holiday visa holders with job posting that are literally catered to them
Those seven months allowed me to prepare for what turned out to be two years of my life in Sydney, Australia and going strong. I haven’t looked back since and I feel guilty to say that I can’t imagine me going back to Canada anytime soon…The grass was definitely greener on the other side.
Lake Louise Alberta. – Paddling towards my next adventure!