The Travelling Student – Get With the Program

My name is Philip Kirkbride. I’m a college graduate from Ontario studying at AU. I’ve always wanted to do an exchange program or study abroad but never found the right time to do so. This is part fifteen in the story of how Athabasca University has allowed me to create my own study abroad program.

Over a month had passed since I’d first moved to Quebec City. I was really enjoying it to say the least. I’d found a cheap room near the University of Laval on Kijiji for only $350 a month. While I lived near the University I spent most of my time in a neighbourhood called Saint Roch.

Saint Roch has a working class feel but recent investments have improved the area. Now the area has a bohemian feel to it as well. The other benefit of Saint Roch is the abundance of cheap, quality food. One restaurant worth mentioning is Le Bureau De Poste. While Matt was visiting Quebec for a weekend I decided we’d give the restaurant a shot based on the huge line of people that were regularly waiting to get in. We were pleasantly surprised. With everything on the menu being five dollars we decided to go big, ordering three entrees for each of us. Each entrĂ©e was a meal in itself of excellent quality. If you go and decide to order only one thing I recommend the Sheppard’s Pie or as they call it in French Pate Chinois (Chinese pate).

While I’d been staying in Quebec City (and excelling at my Athabasca courses) Matt had been travelling from small city to small city with the brush cutting company. He was seeing a side of Quebec that few ever would, regularly staying in motels in remote villages. The brushing season would go until Christmas but he had plans to head to Australia for cherry season come November.

All Canadians aged 18-31 are eligible for a year-long working holiday visa in Australia. If, during your first working holiday visa, you work 88 days of regional farm work you can qualify for a second working holiday visa. Matt had done a working holiday visa four years earlier and had worked somewhere between 60-100 days. He had no idea on the exact numbers and isn’t exactly the most skilled when it comes to paperwork.

If you’re in your early 30s and are interested in taking a working holiday, New Zealand offers a similar program which is open to Canadians aged 18-36.

During Matt’s trip into Quebec City we found ourselves at the library sorting through piles of paperwork. After a few hours of sorting everything out I realized that he had technically worked 74 days. However, the Australian government would verify how long he worked by looking at his bank statement, which would only show bi-weekly payments. This verification method gave us some leeway to exaggerate the days he’d worked. We wrote down that he had worked 91 days and hoped for the best.

I had no idea if I would go if Matt’s application was rejected. We, of course, feared the possibility that prices for our flights would sky-rocket as the date approached. Though there was not much I could do, I decided the best thing would be to get ahead in my classes while I waited to find out.