Alumni Spotlight: Jonathan Kettle


Why did you choose this program?

I chose this one-week adventure program with Ultimate Oz / StepAbroad because it seemed that there would be ample opportunities to make friends and explore fun new places. They also made everything easy - with assistance setting up an Australian bank account, the first week's accommodations, and plenty more. I wasn't overwhelmed by the paperwork involved in a working holiday (anyone can do it, it's easy!) but having a first week of activities with a group of people eased my mind at the prospect of making new friends.

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

StepAbroad (Canadian affiliate to Ultimate Oz) assisted by easily directing me to the resources for setting up banking information and getting a Working Holiday Visa. They also provided insights into Australian customs and culture, transport from the airport to the CBD, and tips on where to get great food and coffee.

I had to arrange my own flights and phone setup. After the activities for your program are over for the day, it's up to you how to spend your time! After your adventure program ends, it's 100% up to you where you travel to next.

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

Use this program if you've never travelled overseas, or done a working holiday before. After you discover for yourself just how easy it can be to move across the world, the biggest benefit of the program becomes the social element. The program activities were really fun, but the most that I've taken away from it (now five months after completing the program), are the friends that I still talk to regularly because of it.

After your program ends, do not work straight away unless you absolutely have to. Try to venture out by yourself, find things that scare you and conquer them. Use this opportunity to grow and become a better version of yourself. After you've traveled around the country a bit, try to live like a local and enjoy the comfort in the every-day if you get tired of the backpacker life :)

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

Throughout the week-long adventure program, each day consists of exploring new places and partaking in fun activities. It was a lot of fun - I went sand boarding, held snakes, enjoyed lots of beautiful scenery and got up close with unique wildlife!

After the adventure program ended, I lived the typical backpacker life for two months before settling down in Hobart. This was amazing, and the major highlight of my time down under. It was the perfect jumping point for day-adventures or week long adventures. It's what allowed me to get a bike and bike-pack in so many beautiful places on the island of Tasmania, and have incredible and unique experiences that bring me so much joy to reflect upon, while having the comfort of a home base and routine to help ground myself in the day-to-day grind of working as a bicycle mechanic.

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

Australia is a very safe country to travel. I didn't have any fears about travelling itself, or Australia, but rather used my time abroad to help conquer some existing fears.

For example, I had a fear of open water (specifically looking down and not seeing the ocean floor). To combat this, I went scuba diving in the Whitsundays, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, and entered a great white shark cage in Port Lincoln. Choosing fun ways to conquer fears gave me stories to tell for a lifetime, and let me experience so much of what the country has to offer while becoming a better human!

I also had a fear of falling from heights, so I went bungy jumping in Cairns. Even after my jump, I'm just as terrified about heights as I was before - but a cool thing to have done, nonetheless!

Use your time adventuring abroad to grow, and a great way of doing that is pinpointing insecurities and fears and facing them head on!

What's something that happened on your travels that you never would've expected before you arrived?

I wouldn't have expected the emotional response and growth that happened to myself while I was abroad. I seemed to gain a little more clarity while reflecting on past points in my life, and got better at critically evaluating my own decisions. This is helping me to live a better life now, after returning home, and helped me shape a better life while I was abroad! And embracing vegetarianism along the way has been great for my physical and mental health!

In terms of an activity that I wouldn't have seen myself doing, I wouldn't have seen myself volunteering on an organic vegetable farm for a week, or volunteering (albeit briefly) with Sea Sheppard, or bungy jumping, or skydiving!