Thursday, November 19, 2009

Prospective SWAPPERS

So I am back from my working holiday down under. For all of you considering whether to apply for SWAP, or just considering going to Australia in general, here is a little advice for you.

Firstly, SWAP = IEP (International Exchange Program) in Australia. IEP has two offices, one in Melbourne, one in Sydney. Both are filled with people there to help out travelers while they are down under. Check out their website here. It's not the best looking, but once you can log in as a member, you get access to helpful info and links; applying for an Aussie bank account, phones, etc, can be found there. Also, there is a forum where you can arrange meetings with other IEPers, which leads me to my next point.

Don't be afraid to go alone. I headed to Australia on my own. Making new friends there is one of the easiest things you will do. Unless you are really awkward, or socially dysfunctional, you'll meet lots of people in no time. Travellers want to meet other travellers, simple as that. You'll meet people from all over the world, and it will blow your mind. :P

Be prepared. Your already doing the research if your reading this, so good on ya mate. Keep it up. It's best to go with a general plan in mind of what you want to do when you're there. It can be a little overwhelming awesome once you arrive, so knowing what you need to get done helps. I can't really say much on this since I'm not the best to sticking to a plan myself, but it does help if you've got one.

Book your Greyhound buses online, and more than 24 hours in advance. Travelling by Greyhound buses is a great way to go. The network they have there is awesome; you can access the entire country! Just make sure to book online, as I once booked a bus over the phone for myself and my friend, and the guy screwed up and only booked my friend on the bus. So, not being on the list, I had to wait and see if there was enough seats on a bus I couldn't afford to miss because of my schedule. It was brutal. There ended up being 1 spot left, and 2 people who needed it (the other person had had the same mistake). We both managed to get on though, so all was well. Book well enough in advance as well; not being on the list sucks.

Watch out for GOON. What is goon you ask? It is cheap boxed wine. Dirt cheap. $10-15 for a 4L box cheap. We don't really have goon here in Ontario (probably Canada as well) like they do. It's what the Aussies grow up drinking, so they are well aware of it. Basically, you can get really really drunk for little money. You'll turn to it when your budget demands, I'm sure. Just be careful. It has very little taste and takes awhile to hit you, so you are warned. My first experience with it was an absolute nightmare. I've got a post about it somewhere on here, but I'm not proud of it so I won't link.

Learn how to surf. Just do it. That is the thing that I am most proud of now that I'm back; give me a board and some nice waves and I'll rip it up. I tell everyone, and everyone is jealous.

Umm, what else?

Have fun.
You're going to have the time of your life. Meet new people. Try things that scare you. Take a million pictures. Remember forever. (Something like this blog helps)

Wanna see what fun you can have? Check out these posts.
Here are some of the really cool things I did while down there. My trip sorta got cut short (poor financial managment and my lil bro became sick) but I still loved every minute of it. I am still working on posts for the ladder half of my trip, but so far the really cool ones are:

Self-drive Camping on Fraser Island.
An orientation at Rainbow beach before heading out camping...
Awesome Fraser Island Camping Day 1
Awesome Fraser Island Camping Day 2
Awesome Fraser Island Camping Day 3 (almost done)

The hour I spent in Noosa when it wasn't raining.
Oh Noosa you could have been so wonderful...

Surfers Paradise.
Surfers paradise really looks like a surfers paradise...

Surf camp at Spot X
Spot X Surf camp and whats going on in Byron Bay...

How I felt on my first day.
Day 1 - Here.

I lived in Sydney for 5 months. Here are some of the places/things you should check out if you can.
Watson's Bay
Watch a Sydney Swans game
Sydney Botanical Gardens
NYE in Sydney

Blue Mountains and the Jenolean Caves (just learnt facebook public links can expire)
Videos from the mountains/caves

Well I hope this helps a bit if you're trying to decide. I wish you all the best of luck, and safe travels. If anyone has any questions feel free to ask. I was in the same position and I don't mind trying to help :)

Cheers mate,

Andrew Meades


Anonymous said...

Hey! Your SWAP sounded really fun. I was wondering like how the whole thing works- do they assign jobs for you to do while you're there? Like, a different job each week, or do YOU have to find work for yourself?

Steven said...

Awesome! that was really a cool job. Well, not bad for you, because I guess your having so much fun. Which
is jealousy.