I first made the decision that I would apply for a Working Holiday visa in May 2016 while I was still in University and only 2 months away from graduation but less than 2 weeks before finishing all my written work and it was both the most AND least carefree decision I had ever made.
Here’s some context for you.
I was in my final year of a Primary Teaching degree and I had finished my final placement in April 2016 which meant that May was full of final assignments to be passed and graded before discovering if we were to graduate or not, for pretty much everyone this period is highly stressful because on top of assignment writing we are expected to apply for permanent jobs.
Some of you may know that applying for teaching jobs is really time consuming & the interview process is very stressful. The application forms are often between 15-20 pages long and you need to include an essay linked to the person specification describing why you are perfect for the job. This can take days to compete, draft, redraft etc. If you haven’t visited the school beforehand you are unlikely to even get shortlisted, then if you are shortlisted you have to plan a lesson or activity to deliver to a class. Sometimes you are given 10 minutes to prove yourself worthy of an official interview, sometimes 45 minutes. Before selecting you for interview they often give you an ‘unseen task’ which can include a SATs paper. If you do make it to interview you could have 10 adults in the room from Senior Leadership Team to School Governors.
During April & May 2016 I only applied for 2 jobs, I was shortlisted for both & performed my lesson observation and unseen tasks but was not selected for interview. I felt like nothing I did could ever be good enough. I worried that maybe I wasn’t supposed to be a teacher, that I wasn’t good enough.
This was all while I was also writing around 8,000 words worth of assignments. My self-confidence has always been fairly low but I’ve often been able to mask it. During this time, I was at my lowest. I dropped down to 9 stone in weight which was very unhealthy for my 5ft6in height, this was because I didn’t have time to eat because of all the work I was doing but also because I had no appetite anymore.
I didn’t want to leave the house. I didn’t want to see people. I was irritable. I was verbally lashing out at the people who loved me. My mum tried to get me to talk but I wouldn’t. My boyfriend didn’t even know I had mental health struggles until this time & he was trying his best to help but I was completely against everyone, especially myself.
One day in May 2016 I knew I was at breakdown point. I was scared, broken & ready to leave university with less than 2 weeks to go, then my boyfriend said something that changed my life.
He said ‘you’ve always wanted to travel, why don’t we go to Australia’, of course I said no, how could I? I’d be scared, it’s not something someone like me could do, I’m too weird and stressy. Then I really thought about it thinking why. Why couldn’t I?
I realised very quickly after that, that the only thing scaring me more than going travelling was staying here and feeling this way forever, so we started to talk about it and the more we talked about travelling & adventuring, the less I worried and stressed about everything else.
I was becoming myself again just because I had made the decision to go. It took 10 months before we applied for our visas but once we had I felt a light go on that hasn’t dimmed so far, and now we are only 10 weeks away from our first flight.
I don’t know if I would have had the courage to decide to travel if I hadn’t been at rock bottom but I know every day my excitement is growing which I would never have believed if you’d told me in April 2016!