"I knew about SWAP since I've been 16, I have this old brochure under my bed telling myself one day, one day it's going to be me. It gives a feeling of security knowing that they're there for you and your billions of questions (trust me none of them are silly, and no they don't sell Kraft Dinner in Ireland, thanks SWAP lady in Montreal!)" (pictured on right)
"It was so seamless.... I felt like I didn't do anything or go through the horror stories I've heard about getting a visa through other companies or on your own. SWAP was extremely organized and know what they're doing. They took care of almost everything and were able to accommodate my short time frame that I needed to get my visa within."
"They have been incredible since I arrived; the orientation was wildly helpful, I met some friends there on my first day. They are always super active on their Facebook group and prompt when you have a question. They are how I found my first job when I got here, within the first week. Also, they arrange so many events - shows, outings, trips to other countries, or just evenings at the pub with some friends."
"It's 120% worth it for the experience, the memories and the unexpected opportunities that arise."
"A friend of mine had used SWAP to get his visa to go to Ireland and told me what a hassle free easy experience it was. There are a lot of scam companies making all sorts of promises and charging outrageous amounts I was really happy that I had a friend who was able to recommend the SWAP program."
"I have had the chance to immerse myself in the culture and meet people on their own terms, rather than experiencing it as a tourist would. Conversation topics sometimes have to go off-script, once I got the hang of talking to people who don't share a background with me I found the differences are more interesting than the things we have in common. It helps that everyone loves Canadians."
"[The best part of my SWAP working holiday was] definitely the amazing people I've met here. My first few friends I made here back in January and myself are like a family now, it's amazing how close we've all gotten and they have been absolutely amazing so I'm so glad I got to meet them all." (pictured in the middle)
"My brother had such a great experience, and ended up living permanently in the UK after he came on the SWAP program (nearly a decade ago), so I decided to give it a try! I have since gotten engaged in Edinburgh to the love of my life, and he has got a job offer in Canada just in time for my UK visa running out, so we are moving back to Canada at the end of July. To say this has been the best two years of my life would be an understatement, and it's all thanks to SWAP!"
"I was in contact with a recruiter who then suggested SWAP as an option. My boyfriend decided that he would also like to take this adventure, so he too signed up for SWAP. Once arriving on April 28th in Dublin, we did orientation that day, and the next I had an offer of employment from CPL Health Care. As of May 5th I have been working in the brand new cancer care facility with a great group of people and I am receiving great new skills, and a fantastic experience to bring home with me."
"Canada did not have a job for me in my field, unless I had job experience. SWAP has allowed me to travel the one country in the world that I have always been dreaming of visiting, but has also allowed me to get the work experience in my field that has ultimately allowed me to have a chance at a job when the time does come to return home."
"SWAP made it easy to ensure that we had everything arranged properly and that we did not miss any crucial steps in setting up our lives abroad. With our busy lives at home prior to the trip, it really helped with the planning and preparation at a very reasonable price."
"Another big highlight was the moment that we found out that we will be parents while in our Dublin flat. Our made in Ireland baby is due October 24th!"
"I am a support worker helping the mentally and physically disabled (ages 18-85) with every day living and community involvement. I was fortunate to have worked this job before and loved it so much that I had to come back and do it again! The clients here are incredible and make work not feel like work at all. It has become more of a family with a lot of laughs, fun events, group programs and etc."
"If I had stayed home I would not have had the pleasure of meeting the lifelong friends I have. One in particular I have only SWAP to thank! Our SWAP agent Courtney in Halifax knew that myself and another girl my age from New Brunswick were heading out to New Zealand around the same time, so she gave me her e-mail just to have someone from "home" to be able to contact. I e-mailed the girl, Kaitlyn, and planned to meet at some point over our travels. I ended up being in Auckland the weekend she arrived and we met up. She was quite overwhelmed it being her first travel, and me having a bit more experience was really great to be able to help her. We ended up bonding right away and have travelled all over New Zealand together for the past 5 months! So thank you SWAP for creating a pair of life-long friends!" (pictured on left, Kaitlyn on right)
"The first job I had as an HR Administrator and Recruitment officer with a online South African retailer. The job was for a 5 month contract and near the end of it, I was offered a 6 month contract with groupon South Africa in which I am the corporate recruiter, I am currently responsible for recruitment for the entire South African market!"
"I bungeed off of the world's highest bungee bridge, I conquered my fear of heights, I road elephants, I walked with lions! I've done so many things I never thought I would do in my life especially if I never left Canada. Amazing, incredible experiences that truly can never be forgotten! Thank you SWAP for changing my life!"
"If someone was considering going on SWAP I would tell them to do it, they wouldn't regret it. I have always been a person afraid of going, but I took the leap and this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have overcome fears, done more than I could have ever imagined, and made more memories here in a year than I have in a lifetime. You'll be surprised how much more you can do when you leave your comfort zone."
"The best part of my working holiday has been soaking the culture and cuisine of the country. I got to learn about the history, the people, and the geography of the country and feel as though I am a part of it. I have very much enjoyed trying the new cuisine that includes haggis, deep fried Mars bars, and shortbread. This experience has allowed me to expand my knowledge and taste palate which has been the best experience so far."
"Firstly, I would say "Don't Worry - everybody feels that way before making such a big decision." Secondly I would say "Just do it! Go for it!" My husband and I took very large risks by leaving behind two stable, full-time jobs at home; however, the life experience that we gained while travelling abroad was priceless. Given the opportunity we would do it all over again (and just in case anyone is curious we returned home and once again found ourselves gainfully employed - all is well that ends well!)"
"My belief is that experiences are what make up someone's life. Opportunities are everywhere; you just need to be willing to leave your comfort zone for a brief moment to seize them. Sharing each other's culture is probably one of the most rewarding experiences I have had to date. You cannot share your culture with someone stuck in your hometown."
"DO IT! It is the most rewarding, adrenaline pumping, just overall epic thing you can do. Living abroad really opens your eyes to the world and it had the most positive impact on my life. I made so many amazing friends and saw things I'd watched on National Geographic since I was little and always dreamed of seeing in person. If someone is nervous about going on SWAP alone, don't be! I went by myself and travelled by myself but I was never alone. As long as you go into it with the right mindset of getting the absolute most out of the experience then you will and you'll remember it forever. Living and working abroad gives you an experience that a 'vacation' could never match."
"I wanted to do something that would push and challenge my personal growth. The decision was spontaneous - my partner was going to study at Trinity and I thought 'well... to heck with it! I'm coming too!' It turned out to be the best decision I could have made for myself as an individual. The resources that SWAP makes available to its participants is unbelievable. To be in a country with which you are previously unacquainted and to have a place to go where friendly human beings are absolutely thrilled to give you all the information and support you need to thrive is honestly quite incredible. I felt like all my fears about going were totally quelled by the SWAP staff in Toronto before I left and the SWAP office in Dublin."
"[The Sydney hosting centre] was actually how we booked our entire East Coast itinerary. They got us the best price for our trip, which included everything that we wanted to see. They were always there to answer any questions we had as well. Danny, from the Sydney location referred to us as the "CANAAADIIAAANNNSS!" I think he grew accustomed to us because we never stopped drilling him with questions."
"It took me one week to find a full time job and an apartment within five minutes of my work. I'm a bartender on Broad St in Birmingham. I had never bartended before, but my restaurant gave me proper training and I absolutely love it. I'm happy to have a new skill to take home to Canada that I can continue in. And saying I was a bartender in Europe is going to look great on my resume."
"Don't worry! SWAP does all the work for you, there is plenty of work and it's easy to find a place to live. If you're worried about being alone, you'll meet plenty of new friends through work, pub nights, and your adventures! You'll never regret this year away, but you will regret not going."
"They provided a place to go to use internet, ask questions, apply for jobs, and give general advice about whatever we were interested in. They also provided the invaluable service of organizing Pub Meets, where we could meet with other travellers from around the world. I still stay in touch with people I met at my very first Pub Meet!"
"(What made you choose SWAP?) In a word: My mother. She wasn't too keen on the idea of me landing at the Sydney airport and taking my travels from there. Having this aspect of my trip pre-booked was hands down the best choice I made in starting my adventure. It gave me the chance to breathe after landing - having my transport and hostel taken care of - and it helped me to make incredible friends that I still visit and talk to frequently. Without this program, being a first time traveller, I would not have had the initial positive experience I did. It is something I am very grateful my mom convinced me to do, and grateful exists." (pictured second from the right)