SWAP Working Holidays

Program Reviews

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Mel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Had the best time

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.

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Mel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing experience

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.

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Mel
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Completely changed my life

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!

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Gina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Spend a year abroad - it will change your life

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.

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Devon
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Getting Away

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!

Elise
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Working Holiday in the UK

When I decided to go on a working holiday to the UK, I had never travelled abroad alone and was nervous. SWAP helped me so much with all the planning that I didn't have the chance to worry about the first steps: they helped with the paperwork and booked my first couple of nights in London in a hostel I knew I'd be safe.

When I arrived and found the hosting centre, I got to meet other travellers at orientation and lots of support from the peppy staff. Having friendly faces there to answer all my questions and reassure me allowed me to put myself out there, take risks, and try new things.

After replying to an posting I found in the hosting centre, I took a job in Oxford at a hotel housed in a 17th century building as well as in a pub (even though I knew nothing about beer). After a couple of months of working and getting to know the city and its surroundings (and randomly seeing Bill Clinton on the street), I spent the pounds sterling I earned on an amazingly spontaneous trip through Scotland, meeting up with old and new travel buddies (many of whom I still keep in touch with).

Even though I only spent 4 months on my working holiday, it changed my life: because I had the absolute freedom to make decisions and figure out what I wanted from this experience (while feeling like I had a safety net should everything go wrong), I'm now more secure in who I am and way more confident to be that person. Since then, I've gone on countless adventures (including a year-long trip around the world) and it's fair to say that it was SWAP that set me up from the start.

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Carla
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Three, Two, One, JUMP!

The moment I bought my plane ticket was nerve-wracking. The only thing I can compare it to is something I experienced a few months later, it pretty much felt like I was in a plane at 15,000 feet, and there was no turning back, I was about to jump. So I put my fears aside and I took the leap - I headed to Australia. Since it was my first time going abroad on my own, I was pretty nervous so I signed up with SWAP. They connected me with other travellers before I left, answered all of my questions and sorted out my visa in record time, so I was feeling much better about the whole thing. When I arrived, I stayed at the SWAP-recommended hostel and was lucky enough to make friends there that I stayed in contact with throughout my entire stay. They travelled with me and encouraged me to do once-in-a-lifetime things, like learn to surf, and yes, eventually even try skydiving. With the help of the hosting centre, I organized everything in the first couple of days - bank, phone, resume, etc. The apartment and job followed shortly. It was smooth sailing and I knew I could always drop by and talk to the staff if I had any questions. The pay in Australia is pretty good so with the money I saved, I travelled around and got to enjoy life in a new and exciting place. Living and working abroad changed my perspective on everything. When I came back to Canada, I missed my friends, the incredible beaches, and Caramello Koalas, but I was a better version of myself in every single way. I pushed myself to be more outgoing and more open-minded. I learned to live life to the fullest and that's something that I will always carry with me. I soared out of that plane somehow and made a graceful landing and it was all thanks to SWAP. So if you've been thinking about it, just do it, take the leap, you won't regret it!

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Nicole
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

BEST DECISION EVER

The SWAP 7 day welcome tour was incredible. Before leaving Canada they helped me obtain my visa, sort out flights and answered all my questions about spending a year abroad. I had someone pick me up at the airport and take me directly to my pre-booked amazing accommodation in Sydney. The next morning I met everyone in my group, there was about 50 of us. Bank accounts had already been opened for us, mobile SIM's were received the first day and our TNF was applied for as soon as we landed in Australia! Having those things done for me made everything so simple, and I knew I had someone to help if I had any issues. The 7 day tour was really worth it because we got to leave the city and go to Port Stephens. We went sand boarding which I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do otherwise. It was about 45 degrees that day so the sand just stuck to all of our sweat, gross but fun! Having the 7 day tour was really awesome because it helped me be comfortable and get my bearings before being completely alone. The travel staff helped us write our resumes, we got discounts on courses to serve alcohol, and they helped book all our future travels (with discounts)! Through the tour we were able to get a discount of a surf camp that was one of the highlights of my trip. Not only did I see a TON in my 7 day tour, I also made some amazing friends. I ended up living with a few of the people I met that first week and we already have plans to meet in England next year. Doing SWAP was the best decision and it really helped me love my time abroad. I would recommend it to anyone, especially those going alone!

What would you improve about this program?
Before going to Australia I was slightly confused about the difference between SWAP and Ultimate. In the future maybe just say UltimateOZ runs the 7 day tour in Australia and they are partnered with SWAP.