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SWAP Working Holidays

About

SWAP Working Holidays is a non-profit organization made up of passionate travelers who want to help you live, work, intern, volunteer, teach, and learn abroad!

We offer assistance with visa paperwork, preparing you for your trip before you go, we book your first few nights' accommodation and then our staff abroad help you navigate living in a new city/country. We help you find work, long term accommodation, introduce you to lots of new friends and make sure you have all the support you need for the whole time you're away.
Whether you want to work abroad or you would like a job/volunteer placement, we make sure you get the best out of your overseas experience. Join the 60, 000+ Canadians that have gone abroad with SWAP!

Website
www.swap.ca
Founded
1975

Reviews

Default avatar
Mel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

SWAP Ireland was the 2nd and 3rd SWAP programs I did (I've done 4). I had done the UK one previously and so decided to give Ireland a try. I liked it so much that I ended up repeating it, though several years later.

When I first arrived in Ireland, I was so much more prepared than I'd been for the UK one. I went to the orientation, which is always helpful, and met an American there that I quickly befriended and we ended up becoming roommates.

I knew I wanted to work in an office since the pay was better, so I signed up with several temp agencies and got a placement right away with a good company. I ended up working for that company in various departments on and off for most of the time I was in Ireland. I also knew that I wanted to get a part time job somewhere fun to meet younger people to go out with, so I got a job at a cinema. I didn't need to worry, I ended up making great groups of friends at both jobs and always had something to do in the evenings and weekends.

I had such a great time the first time around that I decided to return 3 years later and do it all over again. Unfortunately I didn't stay as long the second time around as the recession had hit Ireland and it was much harder to find a job. I lucked out and ended up getting a temp job at a great company, where I met another great group of people. We had such a great time at work and outside of work.

I would recommend Ireland to anyone, the country itself is incredibly beautiful and there is so much to see and do. The people are friendly, love to laugh and love to have fun. I met some amazing people that I am still friends with today.

Default avatar
Mel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

SWAP South Africa is the 4th SWAP program I've done, but the first volunteer one I did. I'd always wanted to do some kind of volunteer abroad trip but always ended up doing something else instead. When I saw they had a volunteer program to South Africa, I knew right away that I had to do it. I'd been dreaming of visiting South Africa since I'd done SWAP UK and had South African roommates. I'd seen their pictures of home and it just looked so beautiful I knew I wanted to visit it one day.

The volunteer program was great. We were picked up at the airport and had a 3 day orientation, explaining how the programs would work and showing us around Johannesburg, Soweto and Pretoria. It was a great introduction.

We lived at the orphanage while we volunteered, in our own little cottage. We were given weekly vouchers for the grocery store and did all our own shopping and cooking as a group, which was fun. Most of the other volunteers were from Europe or New Zealand (I was the only Canadian) and we all stayed for various lengths of time, some for only 2 weeks and some up to 3 months. I was there for 2 months, but enjoyed it so much I ended up extending my stay to 3 months. I also met some amazing people while volunteering. I had so much fun with the other volunteers and we all became quite close. The staff at the orphanage were also really great, I met some lovely people that I still keep in touch with.

And of course, the children. The main reason we were there. I loved my time with the children, from the babies and toddlers in the nursery to the teenagers in the cottages. It was a bit overwhelming when we first arrived, but we quickly settled into a routine and as we got to know the children and they got to know us, we really bonded. I cried so much when it came time to say goodbye, I wanted to take them all home with me.

I also took the opportunity while I was in South Africa to do a bit of traveling and visited Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and the Okavango Delta in Botswana among other places and did several safaris.

If you're interested in doing a volunteer trip, I would recommend this one. It was a great opportunity to help out, while also getting to see a new part of the world and immersing myself in a different culture. It was an incredible experience and one that I would repeat in a heartbeat.

Default avatar
Mel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

SWAP UK was the first ever SWAP program I did (I've done 4). I was only 19 when I moved to London and what an adventure it was. I needed a break from school and I'd always wanted to travel so it seemed like an amazing way to earn some money and see some of the world.

I'd never travelled alone before and certainly not overseas so having the support of the staff to help guide me was invaluable. The orientation session was so helpful with tips on how to open a bank account, buying a phone, how to find accommodation and a job. The office was equipped with everything you needed for job hunting and the staff were so helpful. The first two night's accommodation were included in the fee and I ended up meeting people there that I am still friends with today.

I ended up only staying in London for 5 months, before deciding to head home and go to university, but that 5 months changed my life and ignited a lifelong passion for traveling. I've now been to over 40 countries and counting.

To anyone thinking of doing a SWAP program, I say go for it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, you won't regret it!

Default avatar
Gina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I had no idea what I wanted to do after I graduated university, but I had absolutely no interest in slumming it around home with a boring 9 to 5 job. I wanted to experience life, I wanted to see the world and, most importantly, I wanted to see what I was capable of.

I decided to join the Student Work Abroad Program; I moved to Ireland, lived with an incredibly kind and loving family, and spent a year turning this once-foreign place into my homeland. I met unbelievably interesting people, explored magnificent places and learned so many things about the world - nothing you gain from any job or classroom will ever teach you what these experiences have taught me.

I stepped far outside of my comfort zone, uncovered a world of opportunity and started believing in myself in a way I never thought possible. I became invincible living my dreams every single day, and became more in tuned with who I am and what I truly want from life.

It is without a doubt the most rewarding experience that I have ever had and I could not recommend SWAP more. Traveling means more than moving within a space - it means to move within yourself - and while anyone can go ahead and visit a country, it becomes a whole different story when you live there and have this place become a part of you.

SWAP has given me the one of the most rewarding experience of my life and, for that, I will forever be grateful.

Read my full story
Devon
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

SWAP was one of the best decisions of my life. I had the chance to get away and had the support of the team to help me get there! I decided to travel to Australia for a year and it was honestly an easy process to go there.
"Down Under" was a beautiful place and full of so much adventure. I lived in Sydney for my first few months and got to work as a server. I met so many awesome people doing the same thing as me from all over the world. I met lots of people from the UK, America and Italy! In Sydney I found it was the hub of travelers and a great starting point for me in my experience.
I was able to get a job pretty quickly, found housing soon too and even met some lifelong friends from taking this leap.
After living in Sydney and spending Christmas and New Years there I traveled the East Coast and had over a month of on-the-road adventures. I got to go kayaking, beach bumming, scuba diving, sailing and hiking to some beautiful locations. It was probably the best month of my life because I got to experience so many amazing things and even tried Skydiving!!
After a month of travel I worked on a cattle station for my 88 days to get my second year visa and loved life in the outback!
I traveled around the outback and down to Melbourne too finishing off my trip there before headed home. The beauty of the red center is unlike anything else I've ever seen.
I would 10/10 recommend getting away for a year or just getting away too! I am a better person because of this decision I made and I am thankful SWAP made it so easy and straight forward for me!

Programs

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

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.

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Nicole Farrell

Job Title
Program Coordinator
Nicole is a Program Coordinator at SWAP Working Holidays. After graduating from Ryerson University in Toronto, she set her sights on Ireland, and sought after SWAP to help her achieve her dream of traveling and living abroad. Through a turn of serendipitous events, Nicole now helps send other lucky Canadians on the adventure of a lifetime!

What is your favorite travel memory?

Visiting Stonehenge in the UK

One of my favorite memories is conquering the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge in Northern Ireland! It may not seem too high but I was pretty proud of myself for making it across (and back again -- it leads to an island!)

Another favorite memory of mine is having seen the encompassing sprawl of Tokyo from atop the Metropolitan Government Building. At night, seeing the lights twinkle across the sea of skyscrapers really made me feel like I was far from home, but in the best way possible.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I started at SWAP as a Marketing Intern in 2012, and have changed positions a few times since then. I'm incredibly lucky to work with an amazing group of people, and to have learned about so many aspects of creating amazing travel opportunities.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I can't choose just one! Every year we check in with our Swappers and reading their stories is the best part of my job. Skydiving, snorkeling, road trips, concerts, meeting their best friends, falling in love, landing their dream job, traveling across Europe...their experiences inspire me and really make my job worthwhile when I see all they have accomplished.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

It's not a question of if, but when! I definitely plan on traveling to South Africa to volunteer on our Soweto orphanage program.

We carefully vet our volunteer programs to ensure the help we send benefits the cause.

I cannot wait to meet the amazing staff who care for the children and help make a positive impact on those children's lives.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

We are Canadian owned and operated, and one of our core values is to offer affordable travel experiences to Canadians across the country. It is really great working for a not for profit organization who truly values the experience of travel and the happiness of our participants.

More Interviews