Honestly the whole concept of a gap year is genius. Why rush straight into college or work? Maybe if it was embraced more in the States we wouldn’t have as many student loan issues and 5-6 year seniors. I think that this framing of a gap year is one thing that other countries are better at than us. Just some food for thought.
That being said I’m glad I waited a few years before coming to Australia. I was able to save up enough to fully enjoy my time here. I also think that if I had come to Australia at 22 years old my experience would be completely different.
Applying for the Working Holiday Visa
Everyone has different stories of how long or short their process for applying for the visa was. There are also two types of visas (417 and 462) depending on your home country. I’m on the 462 Working Holiday Visa. Most European countries (including England), Canada, and Asian countries will be on the 417 visa. I applied at the end of December 2018 (roughly between Christmas and New Years) and wasn’t granted my visa until mid-February. Some people say theirs took only days or a couple of weeks. One person also said it was immediate for her. Knowing what I know now about the Australian workplace, many admin, offices, and business are out of commission at the end of the year/during the holidays. So if you get anxious about waiting don’t apply during that time especially if you want a quicker answer to leave for Australia straightaway. From the date your visa is granted you have a year to enter the country and then the visa is valid for a year after that first entry. You are also free to come and go as you please during the year. The cost of this visa is $485 AUD or roughly $330 USD.
It’s really difficult to plan things out before getting to Australia. So many jobs and flats (apartments) won’t take you seriously until you’re physically here.
Here are some things you should do upon arriving in Australia:
- Join some Facebook groups. (Americans in Sydney is great or other Aussie based meet up groups directed at your age, interest, etc.)
- Get a SIM card. The data options in Australia are great and the sooner you have an Aussie number the better. I’m using Vodafone.
- Open a bank account. There are a few major banks, but none of the major banks we have back in the States so do some research. I went with Commonwealth.
- File for a tax id number. You’ll need this for jobs when you start working.
- Stay in a hostel. This is a great way to meet a lot of people. If hostel life really isn’t your cup of tea you can get a private room. You’ll get the benefits of meeting people without having to sleep in a bunk bed.
- Educate yourself about the public transport. Each city/state in Australia uses a different method. If you’re in Sydney get an Opal card right away, download the app, and register your account.
- Buy a charger cube. Your converter is great and continue to use it, but buying a $15 charger cube with the correct prongs for the outlet will make your life that much easier.
- Wear sunscreen and drink a lot of water. You body will not be use to the level of sun exposure and it’s hot so make sure you’re hydrated. Whenever I start feeling a bit off I realize I am on my way to dehydration.
- Go out and explore. You didn’t come here to sit in your room or sleep. Plus the only way to kick the jet lag is to sleep during normal nighttime hours. Go!
- Don’t be shy and put yourself out there. Otherwise it’s going to be a very lonely year.
Everybody comes in with a different situation. Some, like me, are traveling first randomly based on what they want to do, some are traveling straight through the East Coast for a couple of months and then immediately starting their farm work up north, some need to start a job ASAP or they won’t be able to survive and will have to fly home, some want to work in a serious “proper” job and get sponsored in the future, and so on. It’s very interesting meeting all kinds of people because everyone has a story and comes from a different walk of life that led them here. One thing I think is worth mentioning is that I actually haven’t met many Americans. Most of the time I am the token American and it has been eye opening. Other countries definitely have stereotypes about us and I’ve liked proving them wrong. The main thing I hear is that Americans are not well traveled and are ignorant to the rest of the world. So I challenge you all to go research something new. Do you know what language from Belgium speak? Or have you seen the Aussie version of a world map? Get curious!