Europe: “Why Not?”

Why not go work abroad in the UK?

I’m sure everyone who has ever thought of a crazy idea like this out of the blue has encountered doubt from their family.
Some of my favourite responses were:

“You’re not going to Europe” with a tone that implied the idea was some sort of joke.
“Everyone there hates foreigners!” but…we [Canadians] like the Queen, too!
“Every animal in Australia will kill you!” after I had thought about going to Australia instead.
“But…you’re going alone? Alone? That’s insane!” Yeah, I’ll admit it. It’s kind of insane.
“You need to stay here, work, and save for school.” My job ends in December and won’t start up again (if they decide to have me back) until April.
“The economy sucks, good luck finding a job.” Precisely why I want this experience on my resume. The economy in Toronto isn’t bad at all, but as always, having thousands of college grads applying for the same job in a few years leads me to believe I need that extra edge above others.
“You are going to waste all your savings!” Maybe. Hopefully not, but maybe.

I’m slowly convincing myself to start the process of filling out forms. I don’t have to submit them until December, really.

How did you overcome doubt from your family? Share some ways of explaining your plan that didn’t result in breaking your mother’s heart, please!

16 responses to “Europe: “Why Not?”

  1. thirtyfourflavours

    I say do it! I started travelling alone when i was 18 and never looked back. I’ve lived in the UK, travelled to San Fran, Chicago, Paris, Nice, Spain etc. all on my own. In three weeks I’m off to NYC and Boston. Ok, I’m an adult now and do have a job…but at the same time I think its important to see the world.
    See if you can do a work visa in the UK if you want to go for an extrended time. Check the British High Commission website in Ottawa for deets.
    If you just wanna go on a hols… can do it cheaply. Just don’t go in the summer…go anytime between now and Dec 15th…you can probably still get a cheap flight/hotel.
    Hope that helps.

    • Wow, that’s a pretty great list.
      Oh, I couldn’t stand to be away during the holidays. Not that we do much for Christmas, it’s just the idea of it. Is there boxing day in the UK? Haha.
      Thanks for the advice!

  2. I found you on Freshly Pressed and all I can say is: go! You’ll love it! When I left Brazil for London, UK I was 21 and had a very broken English; seven months there showed me that the world was too big to stay in only one place. After the seven months there I moved back to Brazil to finish university, got married, had a baby, when she turned 2 I got transferred to Miami, then she turned 3 and we immigrated to O Canada and for the past 3 years we are loving this Torontonian life.
    Even by going all alone, you will have a blast and you will grown SO MUCH and learn EVEN MORE than if you stayed home. Go, get out of your comfort zone… it’s not easy, but it’s so worth it!


    • Definitely one of my main reasons to travel to expand my language knowledge. Not so much with the UK, but I’ve met a few other Canadians who plan to go over who are francophone, maybe I’ll get to practise my French!

      Sounds like you’ve had such great adventures! Thank you for the comment 🙂

  3. I’ve found that the hardest part of the whole process of working abroad isn’t with the family, it’s with the bureaucracy. Being as Canada is part of the Commonwealth, I’m not sure what the process it is for Canadians to work in the UK or EU, but I’ve found that it’s very difficult for Americans to work in those countries.

    Still if you can find a way to pull it off, definitely go for it. If nothing else, it’s just plain fun to throw yourself into a brand new place and situation. I did it a few months ago, flying to the Caribbean and jumping on an eco-tour ship. I didn’t end up liking it, but still glad I did it. Doing the same in Thailand in just a couple weeks.

    And don’t worry too much about convincing your family about it. As soon as they see that you’re seriously doing it, chances are they’ll fall in line behind you in support. Besides, UK/Australia/Europe is hardly the most dreadful place to imagine going. I’m still trying to convince my mother that Thailand isn’t the worst possible place I could be going.

    Best of luck to you.

    • We’re lucky, it’s quite easy to get a temporary UK (2 year) work visa if you’re under 30 and live in Canada.

      An eco-tour? I have no clue what that is but it sounds fun.
      You’re definitely right about the parents, I keep saying “at least I’m not going to Egypt!” (Not that Egypt is a bad country, my mom just watches too much CNN.)

      Good luck in Thailand! I hope the flooding doesn’t get too bad, I read about it today.

  4. Hey! Just stopped in to read some of your blog as you had commented on mine about my NZ trip!

    I totally understand where you’re sitting on this one, as I was in the same position. When I first presented the idea to my family they shrugged it off as a joke, thinking the idea would drift out of my mind in a couple weeks. It didn’t. I was determined to go, so I did all the research I needed and presented it to them. I told them how I was going to do it, where I would start, the method of getting a visa quickly, how I would save money, how I would travel once I arrived, I did ALL my research. They realised I was serious at that point. I worked 2 jobs all through my grade 12 year, sometimes working 40 hour weeks on top of full time school. It was a struggle but I needed it to achieve this trip. Sure my parents were a little upset when they realized that I was in fact going through with this, but I also showed them that I would be okay, I can do it.

    They have held up pretty well through it all, My plane leaves in a week so they are getting a bit touchy about it now. They will be quite upset about me going, they won’t be able to protect me anymore. Sure, they are a little crushed, but you can’t let that hold you back forever. You only have one life to live so you need to live for yourself, not for someone else. Just do so respectfully! 🙂

    I hope you do pursue this dream as I have no doubt in my mind that it will change your life.

    Good luck, and I hope to be reading some posts from you in the UK soon enough!

    • Exactly, my mom just shrugged it off. Good to know I’m not alone in that!
      Oh my goodness, 40 hours on top of school? I can’t even imagine. I had a hard time with my grocery store job when I was in grade 11, barely pulling off 12 hours a week.

      Wow, a week! I hope your trip goes great, I look forward to hearing all about it!

      Thanks for the comment

  5. My advice would be to show your family that you’ve done your research. If they see that you’re serious and know what you’re doing they are bound to accept it a little better. You can do this by sending them online information about where you want to go, what the job options are, etc. Show them stuff on Meet Plan Go ( or other similar sites to let them know this is not a totally crazy thing to do, and can even help you land a better job when you come back.

    Another thing would be to establish good lines of communication. Whether it’s installing Skype for them, buying a phone card, or just promising an email once in a while, this can really help family back home feel more at ease about you going away. And stick with your plan when you go as much as possible. Of course life abroad gets crazy and you won’t be able to call home every day – but if you promise something reasonable, everybody will be happier.

    I hope you do end up going. Living abroad is a great experience. I’m teaching English in South Korea right now, and I absolutely love it. My parents were pretty worried at first (“South Korea’s so unsafe! The threat of North Korea!”) but I showed them that I did my research and they seem okay with it now… And to be honest I feel much, much safer living in Korea than I did living in Washington, D.C.

    • Haha, when I got back from the SWAP talk, I kind of left the literature lying around the house. My parents were unimpressed.

      Teaching English is definitely another goal of mine, after I achieve my degree. I love correcting grammar too much to NOT make money off of it, haha.

      Thank you for the comment! I hope to hear more about your SK adventures!

  6. I never really had a problem with my parents or convincing others that it was a good idea when I was considering applying for swap. My situation was a bit different though(fresh out of school and just married) and I assume i’m a bit older than you.

    I guess i’d say just be direct and confident. Act like you know what you’re doing.

    Something you should think about is even if your parents disapprove of your trip, it doesn’t matter. You are your own person and you can do whatever you want with your life. Something I constantly told people is that if I didn’t do this now I wouldn’t be able to do it again until i’m in my fifties – or even never. I wasn’t ok with that. I don’t know how someone could be. Even if the trip goes terribly wrong and you come back in a month at least you tried and I guarantee you would have seen some amazing things in that time.

    good luck

  7. As a British person I can definitely confirm that we do not hate foreigners. We like them a lot. And we really like Canadians. Honest. It’s the accent, and the use of words such as “toque”.

    Go for it. Your parents will come round to the idea. Yes, it may wipe out your savings but I can’t think of many better things to spend them on. My year in Toronto still remains one of the best, if not the best, year of my life, hands down. I don’t regret a single minute of it and it gave me experiences, memories and friends that will last forever.

    • Haha, good to know! My mom comes from a very British family, so I’m not that much of an outsider, lol. Thank you for the advice, and I’m glad Toronto was good to you !

  8. Hey, thanks for subscribing to my blog! I actually have A LOT of Canadian friends working in London. It’s super easy for Canadians to get a 2 year visa to work in the UK because you’re still part of the commonwealth. BUNAC (Google it) is a program that I did as an American to work in the UK and they arrange things for a lot of Canadians as well. But because you’re Canadian, you have more visa options than I did. If you want, I can put you in touch with some of my Canadian friends living in the UK.

    • Theres a great company called SWAP that helps out a lot. They walk you through it, help with emergencies/finding a job/finding a place to live, etc.

      I look forward to working with them, and I’m pretty sure they’re associated closely with BUNAC.

      Yes, having the Queen on our money sometimes does come in handy! Lol

      Thank you for the reply, and I’ll definitely get in touch if I have any questions!