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How to live like an Aussie for a year

Australia is a popular destination for many but navigating visas and finding work can be tricky – here are some top tips for living like an Aussie for a year.

Image of Australia

It’s completely understandable to want to get away at some point in your life. Whether you’re born with wanderlust or just someone who’s become sick of the same ol’ life and is in dire need of a change, there are always ways to make the change happen. Australia is becoming an increasingly popular destination for this type of longer getaway, and for good reason. First of all, you have the mystery factor, given that the continent is kind of cut off from the rest of the world. On the other hand, it’s a place where fashion, music and culture live, so it doesn’t feel so different from most of the western world, aside from the breathtaking nature, 240 sunny days and generally friendly people. It’s undeniable that it would be a blast to live there for a year, so now that you know what to expect, let’s see how you can get there and live like a true Aussie.

The college student

If you’re a college student who doesn’t want a gap year, but to simply pursue education goals in a different country, student exchange programs are just what the doctor ordered. The International Student Exchange programs offer a variety of options, as well as a comprehensive guide on what to expect in terms of living, education, as well as accommodation. This is perhaps the easiest way to get a year in the land Down Under under your belt, and you can even apply for scholarships that will save you a great deal of money. Given that Australia is home to more than 600,000 international students from over 140 countries, you are sure to broaden your horizons, do some serious networking and make lifelong friendships. Of course, this is the country that boasts some of the most highly ranked universities in the world, so you’ll definitely get the kind of education you deserve. Check out the perks of each individual city and see what makes them so great to live in, make your choice and start filling out those applications.

The working holiday visa

If you prefer to ‘go at it alone’ and have the adventure of a lifetime on your own terms, you can always apply for a working holiday visa. You’ll need to have your health insurance in check, as the Australian government also requires that, a bank statement, a tax file number – without one you won’t be able to get paid for your work. Once your visa is granted, the rest is up to you. You’ll need to book a flight, find suitable accommodation and then go job hunting. You can have as many jobs as you can handle or find just one that provides you with enough money to live like a local for a year. This really is the best way to have that real local experience. You can get paid to take surveys, work in hostels, bars, cafes – and if you have certain qualifications for an even better job, bring your CV along, nice and polished, and make it happen. The best part about this kind of ‘taking travel into your own hands’ is that you don’t have to stay put. You can switch jobs, cities and explore all the corners of this magnificent land, even on a tight budget.

Work and travel

Then, of course, there are the adventurous types who just want to ‘be’ in a country, make a decent living and see what this great continent has to offer. If this sounds like you, you definitely want to apply for the work and travel program. The reason this program is amazing is that it gives you the opportunity to work and save money, and you have plenty of time left to visit almost every corner of the country. For instance, you don’t have to choose Sydney as your destination, as this is, after all, the most expensive place to live. You can live in a smaller, more affordable town and then save enough money to actually see Sydney, Melbourne or any other place you want. The agency is super helpful and incredibly organized, so there is very little left for you to worry about.

Give something back

Although most of the volunteer programs are shorter than one year, there are always those that provide the opportunity for an extended stay. This type of experience is best suited for those who want to give back to the environment and are passionate about the cause. Respect for the environment is important to Australians. You could get a chance to see places such as Adelaide, Bendigo, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Geelong, Hobart, Melbourne, Newcastle, Perth, Sydney and Townsville, while working on the conservation and preservation of the country’s flora and fauna. There is also the opportunity to experience The Great Barrier Reef if you apply for the marine conservation program. You can visit Kangaroo Island and help with the preservation of koalas and other native species. You wouldn’t be a tourist; you would be one of the locals, doing something amazing for the environment.

Zara Lewis lives in Perth but is originally from Chicago. She moved to Australia seven years ago through a student exchange.

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