The year 2001 was very special to me. I have dreamed of going abroad since I was in high school.
Because I¡¯m a kind of person who really likes to travel. Sometimes I had just left for somewhere even during high school days and thought that I would be able to go wherever I want if I went to the university. Someone said, ¡°Where there¡¯s a will, there¡¯s a way!¡±. When I was a freshman, I found out a small part of the Working Holiday program in an guide book for freshmen.
Searching through the Internet I realized that there were many ways to go abroad without spending much money. But here is a reason why I chose the Working Holiday program. Let me introduce the Working Holiday visa shortly to you. When you go abroad with student or tourist visa, it is illegal to work in a foreign country. Some people might work illegally but most of them get paid less than a minimum wage.
But if you have a Working Holiday visa, you can work in every part of the country for a year legally. You can support yourself, learn English with native speakers and experience foreign country! Now Korea has joined with Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand for Working Holiday association.
I chose Canada because it is famous for a beautiful natural environment and Canadian English is about the same as American English. After I decided to go to Canada, I asked about the leave of absence for a year to prepare for the visa. I worked in English conversation for 3 months and then arrived in the foreign country by myself for the first time.
But I was not scared but very excited. As soon as I got to Calgary (a city next to Canadian Rocky mountain), I rented a room in a house where a single lady in the middle age. Was that easy? Not at all. I could hardly make a sentence in English at that time, I asked ¡°Pardon?¡± over and over again whenever I talked to Canadian.
It wasn¡¯t also easy to get a job. I applied for dozens of store but nobody gave me reply. At the end of job hunting for three days, one Mexican fast food restaurant called me for working with them. I started to wash dishes at the kitchen and worked as cashier after one month. I was getting adjust to live there but my English was improving slowly.
At this point, I¡¯d like to tell you something. Most of people think their English will be improved quickly once they get to a foreign country. But judging from my experience, it¡¯s totally up to you. Of course, there are many chances that you can talk to English native speaker. But if you just stay home or get along with Korean friends it¡¯s nothing better than Korea.
I¡¯ve seen these cases many times but also I know it¡¯s really hard not to contact other Koreans due to the loneliness. After five months there, I moved to downtown and got another job at a coffee shop and worked until midnight. It was a hard time for me, so eventually I lost my weight. I didn¡¯t go to an English institute due to my work.
I just took a part time class instead at Calgary University for two months. But working with Canadian is better than learning in a classroom if you are active enough. Before I came back to Korea, I could go to travel to western Canada by the money which I had saved.
Thanks to good system such as youth hostel, traveling was comfortable. Especially, I¡¯ve been to Canadian Rocky Mountain three times, because there were a lot of exciting activities such as water-rafting, canoeing, cycling in the summer and skiing, snowboarding in winter.
It was also fun to meet friends from all over the world at youth hostel. Curry and rice was so popular that I should give more than half of mine to them. Many people seem to be worried before they try to travel around.
But if you are just courageous enough to leave, you¡¯ll see yourself doing great and getting more things than what you expected before. I¡¯m planning to go to Europe this summer, because the world is spacious and there are many things I haven¡¯t known yet.