Finishing up in my final year of university I was unsure as to what to do next. I’d had experience in various different industries and environments but wasn’t sure what really suited me yet. I’d attended a lecture on doing a summer in the USA with BUNAC who help to sort you out with getting work, a visa and the whole shabang. SIGN ME UP I said to the friendly beardy traveler looking bloke (BUNAC rep). (OK that may be a vast stereotype to the good old traveler; he was a very informative, professional bloke. But enough about that….)
There I was feeling smug and glad I had got something sorted following finishing up university. But being the forward thinker I was (at the time), I was wondering what I would do when I got back in September as the visa was only 4 months long. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, this sounded far too short term and I wanted more time to play. Here again, BUNAC offered me a solution: a full on YEAR in Australia. Sun, sand, sea, what more could a twenty something girl want?!
Embarking on an adventure by myself for a year sounded pretty daunting, but, alas, BUNAC offered me the answer again (they were bloody brilliant, what can I say!). A group flight to Australia whereby you meet fellow single travelers at Heathrow, jump aboard a flight to Hong Kong where you stay for three nights to bond and then get aboard the flight to Sydney to crack on with the serious adventure.
So I get dropped off at Heathrow 8.30am mid August and approach the Cathay Pacific check-in desk to meet my new buddies. Everyone is a bit quiet and awkward to begin with trying to match faces to Facebook profiles (BUNAC set up a Faceyb group prior to the flight to mingle); then the group who stayed in the Travelodge the night before stumble in looking slightly worse for wear and divulge on the frollicks from the previous night. Things were looking up!
We embarked on our journey to Hong Kong and explored what it had to offer with a scheduled tour guide in tow, which was an interesting combo with the jet lag, boozy whoof oozing off the drinkers, and stories from the night before.
Landing in Sydney and being sorted with a week’s accommodation was a god send as near to none of us had yet decided where in the country we wanted to start our journey let alone when we should start looking for a job. Soon after that, four of us moved to the Gold Coast where we rented a stunning apartment for a good few months and traveled around Australia from there.
We headed to Byron Bay, where we went kayaking in the sea for whale watching and giant turtles, which was amazing. Then we headed up the coast to Brisbane and flew to Sydney for new year and Christmas.
Once in Sydney, all the BUNACers reunited and galavanted to Bondi Beach, Manly and brought in the New Year overlooking Sydney Harbour, as nearly everyone in the country goes to do (tourists at least, anyway!).
After New Year, I headed to Melbourne and soaked in those wonderful sites, then found work on the Great Ocean Road in a beautiful (tiny) place called Lorne where I waitressed on a beach side restaurant. Yes, I did go for cheeky swims in my lunch breaks, and yes it was incredible. Try not to be too jealous.
Whilst living in Lorne, it would have been rude not to do the Great Ocean Road properly so off I went and enjoyed the view of the Twelve Apostles… or what was left of them.
All in all, I had the year of my life and made some incredible life long friendships with not only the BUNACers but also everyone else I met along the way. I would recommend the experience to everyone. Not only do you create fantastic memories, but you will grow as a person, become more independent and I guarantee, you will never look back.