Natalie from Doncaster tells us about the beginning of her Work Australia adventure…
After graduating from university in July 2010, I decided that instead of slogging my guts out in the job market like most of my friends, I would get of the UK and see the world, Australia to be exact. BUNAC was recommended to me by a friend and so I set off in search for the perfect program for me.
The Work Australia program fitted me to a T - it had the support that I wanted without feeling as though I was going away with my parents, sorted out all the daunting things like bank accounts and tax file numbers which you take for granted in the UK, and most importantly to me, I had the option of taking a group flight, subduing those nerves even more by taking those first steps with like-minded travelers. It also included a 3 day stopover in Hong Kong, with tours, accommodation and transfers back to the airport.
May 5th 2010 was my departure date and I eagerly counted down the days - about a month before we left, BUNAC set up a Facebook group for those of us taking this particular flight. What a godsend this group was! We all had questions, suggestions and worries and being able to discuss those together was amazing. We created a strong friendship group before we had even met.
The night before our flight, there were a few of us that lived too far away from Heathrow to make the early morning departure, so we all stayed in the Heathrow Travel lodge - I felt like I knew them all already and there was no polite small talk or awkward silences as we had a few beers to celebrate the year to come.
The next morning we took a cab to Heathrow together and met up with the rest of the people on our flight - I think that we were all buzzing with excitement and after we had all checked in, we had breakfast and made our final goodbye phone calls. A quick browse round duty free and we were all ready to start our adventure.
Our flight passed in mixture of nervous anticipation, laughter and various episodes of ‘An Idiot Abroad’, it was great to be sat all together and it definitely helped with the nerves. We arrived in Hong Kong at around 9am, and were met by our wonderful tour guide for the 3 days, Lyona. We arrived at our hotel to find that we had been put in rooms with the people closest to our age, the hotel itself was in the heart of Kowloon and was lovely, clean and a great stay.
To combat the jet lag, we dropped off our bags and headed straight out. Together we navigated the Hong Kong train system and went to Nyong Ping to see the ‘Big Buddha’; we went on an amazing cable car ride and got a bird’s eye introduction to Hong Kong.
The next few days were filled with tours of Victoria Peak, Stanley Fishing market, Aberdeen fishing village, and Kowloon. The culture change was a bit of a shock to the system but we all rallied together and had a wonderful few days. Apart from Lyona who spoke great English, English was only spoken to a very basic degree, but we found that with lots of hand gestures and gesticulating wildly, we got by pretty well.
We had a wonderful group meal with Lyona one night, who was able to decipher the menu for us. I think for a lot of us, she made the transition all that easier by becoming a real friend over those 3 days and saying goodbye to her at the airport was an emotional moment.
BUNAC and the group flight made what was one of the scariest things in our lives so much easier to deal with, and the friends that I made on that flight are still friends today. We have met up all over Australia and I know that once we’re all back in the UK, we will continue to stay in touch!
Like the sound of heading to Australia on our Group flights? Find out more here.