Alumni Spotlight: Melanie Boille

Why did you choose this program?

I had graduated from high school and needed a break from school/studying. I had always been interested in the UK and thought working in London would be a great way to earn money and see the world.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

SWAP helped me get my working holiday visa, gave me a welcome package, an orientation when I arrived in London and 2 nights of accommodation at a hostel.

SWAP's equivalent in the UK, BUNAC, had an office with job and apartment postings, computers I could use and staff that could help me and answer any questions I might have.

It was up to me to find a job and an apartment, but having SWAP/BUNAC's resources at my disposal was a big help.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Go out and make friends. Having friends when you're living in a foreign country makes all the difference. It sounds completely obvious, but I can't stress enough how important it is and how it will make your trip so much more enjoyable.

There will be hard days: days when you're homesick, days when things aren't going your way, days when you will want to give up and head home. Don't. The hard days will pass, things will get better and you will have an amazing experience that you will never forget.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

For me, I would wake up, go to work and in the evenings head home and hang out with my roommates or go out with some friends. On the weekends I would run errands, explore the city or go sightseeing/traveling.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was probably being on my own and finding a place to live. I had never lived on my own before or had ever been so far away from home so it was a really new experience for me.

I stayed in a hostel when I first arrived and I quickly made friends, which helped to not feel so alone. And when I did finally find a place to live, my roommates were really great and I adapted easily to living in London.

It very soon came to feel like home.

What has this experience taught you?

It taught me how to be independent. It taught me resourcefulness, adaptability and how to overcome obstacles. It also instilled in me a lifelong love of travel that has now taken me to 6 of 7 continents.