Do you love to travel? Since the pandemic have you been itching to travel even more? If you dream of travelling and working abroad after COVID-19, the Working Holiday Visa (WHV) is for you.
Accessible to young Canadian adults between the ages of 18 and 35, the WHV (also known as the Working Holiday Visa) gives you the choice of over 30 countries and territories to travel to for almost 24 months! It’s never too early to plan a once-in-a-lifetime adventure like this! If you are interested in the WHV, now is the time to educate yourself and start saving.
Quebecer Élizabeth Genest did a WHV in London and is currently doing a second in Italy. Elizabeth is living in the small town of Follonica, in Tuscany. To answer all the questions you might have about the working holiday visa, we chat with her about jobs, travel, culture, the visa application, and her budget, real-time under the Italian sun.
Can You Tell Us About Your Experience with a Working Holiday Visa (WHV)?
“My first was when I was 19, between two sessions at university, that is to say from May to September. I had wanted to go to London for a long time, to practice my English but, above all, to discover London life. So for three months, I went to live in London. I got a job in a cafe. And the last month I had off, I took the opportunity to take a tour of Europe with one of my friends. We went to Venice, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin. We travelled by train and plane.
Now, about 10 years later, at 31, I decided to do a second WHV. This time in Italy.
My spouse is Italian so the WHV was a rather simple, easy, and fast way of allowing me to be able to live in Italy for a year and without necessarily being in the hooks of my spouse, that is to say by being able to work, being able to earn my own money.”
How Did You Find Applying for the Visa in Italy? Was It Complicated?
“I would say that at first glance, it may seem complicated because there is a list of documents to provide. But it’s not that complicated, it’s just that it has to be done. For example, a bank statement, proof of purchase of plane tickets and other documents like that.
For Italy, what is really simple and pleasant is that everything can be done remotely. I looked on the Internet, on the site of the Italian consulate. There is a list of all the documents that must be provided. And, like me in Quebec, I live in Baie-St-Paul, it’s four hours from Montreal, I was able to complete everything remotely, place all my documents in an envelope, including my passport, that’s the little moment of stress… ”
What Steps Did You Take to Find a Job?
“I was 19 or 20 years old, so I had no specialization in my field, in any field, so I was ready to take any job that was going to accept me: McDonald’s, cafes… I really left with my little stack of resumes.
I had found an apartment. I looked with the metro map which metro stations were easily accessible from my home. I stopped at every ‘stop’ on the metro. I was going to carry resumes to every Starbucks and there is one that reminded me of home and that’s how I got it. ”
Was Your Income Sufficient to Cover Your Cost of Living While You Were in the UK?
“I would say yes. Certainly, I was in a shared room with two other people, so it was not a luxury life, but we got along.
So all the money that I made in pounds sterling from working full time allowed me to cover my cost of living and have a little more to travel.
Of course, I had a little pillow that I had made in Canada before. For London, I had roughly a total of I would say $4,000. I think I bought my plane tickets with that. So I would say it was maybe $2,000 that I had in Canadian dollars. So, I was able to easily make four months with $ 2,000 CAD, on top of the money I made in pounds sterling.”
Do You Have Any Advice For People Who Dream of Working and Travelling With a WHV?
“I would say, go for it. Because the WHV, one of its only flaws, is that there is an age limit. Depending on the country, it is either 30 or 35 years. Italy is 35 years old. So if you want to do it, do it now! Also, my other advice is: sometimes we say to ourselves “Ah, it’s a one-year license” or “it’s a two-year license”, but you don’t have to leave for a while. year or two years.
If this is your dream, please live it. My first time, I had only done four months, but it still allowed me to go and work elsewhere, to have an experience. So, time shouldn’t really be an issue. ”
Is It Easy to Find a Job When You Don’t Speak the Language of the Country?
“Yes. Normally, in Quebec, everyone has a small base in English. For me, in England, it had been quite easy. Of course, to work with the public, you still have to have a small base, you have to be able to communicate with colleagues and clients. I would even add that Canadians and Americans really have a good reputation for customer service. A better reputation than the Europeans. So that works in our favour.
If you are good at the host language, you can work in customer service. If you don’t have it, there are still plenty of other jobs.
There were travellers who worked in restaurant kitchens. They didn’t have to talk to clients, but they still had coworkers, so they had the opportunity to practice to improve. ”
How Did You Manage in Italy?
“I had never taken Italian lessons before. I had only learned with Duolingo. To my amazement, I was still working well to have a small base. I have found that with the working holiday visa I have the right to participate in free courses that are offered by adult education, which are schools for immigrants. So twice a week I have free Italian lessons. It allows me to meet people, to improve my Italian. So, this is great.
To find a job in Italian, like working in a cafe, I could try, it’s just that I would be more in the kitchen. Sure, a professional job, I wouldn’t feel comfortable yet. ”
What Do You Miss Most About Quebec After Several Months Abroad?
“I’m going to go for the clichés, but I miss poutine, that’s for sure. Of course, Italian food is delicious and all, but sometimes a good old greasy poutine is good for morale.”
Work and Travel Abroad With International Experience Canada
Elizabeth proves to us that doing a WHV is very accessible, easier than you think and above all, a great opportunity.
The first step to getting a WHV and experiencing work travel is to visit the International Experience Canada website. Then you will have to choose a destination (because there are plenty of them!). Check the eligibility criteria, prepare all the documents (this varies according to each country) and submit your application. You will then receive the visa and you will be ready to buy your plane ticket and live this exceptional experience too!
Listen to the testimonials of other Canadians who have lived the WHV experience around the world on our YouTube channel.
So, do you feel more confident? What would be your dream destination for a working holiday visa?
The original interview was conducted by Emilie Robichaud and compiled by Britney Claveau.