I flew to New Zealand in February of 2013 on a Working Holiday visa. I planned a year long trip where I would travel, experience, and have the time of my life in New Zealand. I still remember landing in Auckland and taking the bus from the airport into the city. I was absolutely mesmerized and terrified all at once. What was I thinking? Travelling to a foreign country where I knew absolutely no one, having no idea what would happen, and to just start fresh and see a bit of the country?
To fast forward into the future, my time in New Zealand became one of the most inspirational years of my life. I found a place to live, I made friends, and I created a family. I was able to find myself in a tiny little country, and I didn’t want to lose the person who I was becoming. I fell in love with everything New Zealand had to offer me, and I never wanted to let it go.
Luckily, I was working for a company who was willing to sponsor me and we were going through the process for the work visa. The amount of stress I went through in order to get my visa was absolutely ridiculous. We are all from the Commonwealth, we all have the same hierarchy, what was the hold-up? After 2 full months of waiting for immigration to come to a verdict on my fate, I ended up pulling my visa. My working holiday visa had expired in February, and I wasn’t allowed to work in the country until they approved my work visa. Money was getting low, stress was getting high, and I was at my wits end trying to fight for this. On March 26th 2014, I said goodbye to everything I had created and packed my bags to come home.
I was absolutely devastated by the fact that I could never come back to my second home. I could never have a day-to-day life with the friends and family I had made; we will forever be friends through technology. After living at home for a few months, I kept in contact with a really close friend who moved to Australia. After keeping contact, for what felt like forever, I took another leap of faith and moved to Australia.
Australia was another adventure all on its own. I learned that huntsmen spiders are absolutely terrifying, especially in your living room. The Australian sun burns a lot worse than the Canadian sun. And getting a work visa in Australia was a lot harder than it had been in New Zealand. None the less, I started my life back up again. I had amazing support around me, friends, boyfriend, what more could a girl ask for?
I felt that because I had dealt with this in New Zealand, maybe I would be better prepared this time around; I knew what to expect and how to prepare myself. Unfortunately, that was not the case at all. After a long hunt of trying to find a company who was willing to hire me, let alone sponsor me, I came to a fork in the road. I could either stay in Australia, and hope that I would find a job willing to sponsor me, or I could return home early for the wedding of a childhood friend. After a lot of consideration, and weighing the pros and cons, I ended up packing everything up and coming home for the wedding. Leaving didn’t get easier. It was round two of my new friends-through-technology and I was not the happiest of Canadian campers. I was not ready to say goodbye, and I was definitely not ready to leave the warmth of summer to return to a Canadian winter.
It’s for these reasons that I believe free movement would be such a great opportunity for everyone among the Commonwealth. I don’t want anyone from the Commonwealth to come to Canada and deal with the same challenges that I underwent while overseas. I also don’t want Canadians to go through what I endured either. I would love to share our beautiful country with open arms and treat Australians, New Zealanders, and Britons as family. Moving overseas twice was the only decision in my life I have never regretted but I definitely took for granted. It gave me the chance to explore new lands, learn more about myself, make amazing friends, and also find another place to call home.
Now is a better time than any to start this change. We, the people, are talking; we are ready for this change. Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and Britons are ready to stop living abroad in these four countries not knowing if they can stay and when their time will be up. We are ready for the opportunity to decide our fate and not have immigration intervene. We are ready to start the nitty gritty of this Freedom of Movement between Commonwealth countries.
The question is, are you?
Nicole graduated with a Tourism and Travel Diploma from Georgian College in April 2012, and is currently undertaking an Accounting Advanced Diploma in Business Administration. To get in touch with Nicole, please contact her via:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | LinkedIn: nicolecamelino | Twitter: @npcamelino