Why I Packed My Bags and Moved Overseas at 18

The Best of Canada

Ever since I can remember, I have had a strong desire to travel and explore the world. As a child I would watch TV shows, dreaming to one day visit the places seen on screen:  New York, LA, Hollywood, London etc. My childhood dream was ALWAYS to be a flight attendant.

As I met with my high schools Careers Advisor, I told her of my dream to become a flight attendant. She urged me to rethink so I took her advice and enrolled into a Bachelor of Business majoring in Real Estate and Property Development at university. Why did I choose this program? Time was running out, year 12 was ending, I felt enormous pressure to make a decision about what my future would hold, and at the time I thought, that sounds alright. So that was that. The next 3 years of my life and $30,000 was decided by the flip of a coin, so to speak.

The very next year I started my Business degree, feeling that the decision I had made would affect my whole life. I was mid-way through the semester and things just didn’t feel right.  I was extremely unhappy at a time that should have been the happiest of my life. I felt like I was pressured into making a decision about my entire life when I was still so young that I had experienced so little and had so much to learn.

Pressure for my future (and the decision I had made) was building, social pressure was building, I had so many friends but yet felt like I didn’t belong. I was often doing things/ activities that my group of friends were doing, but I didn’t enjoy it, it wasn’t me, the influences around me were controlling what I did with my spare time, what brands of clothes I was wearing and how I acted.

I felt trapped and like I was on the wrong path.

For me, the decision to move to Canada happened overnight.

At the time, I was applying for jobs online. Somehow, I applied for a job in Canada through a company that organised working holidays. I got a call from the company who explained the program to me, so the next day, I booked, and at the age of 18 and 1 day, I packed my bags and moved to Canada, all by myself. This was by far the best decision of my life, it changed EVERYTHING for me.

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be able to make this decision so suddenly because I had worked since the age of 15 and had always saved my money. So when the opportunity came along I was ready to go. If you are in a position to start saving, do it! You don’t know when opportunities will come along and when you will need change – savings allows you to be able to act. These are my top tips on saving Money for travel. 

When I arrived in Canada, I instantly felt free. For me, it was the little things. I could wake up when I wanted to (which for me is early), eat what I wanted, I could walk in any direction I wanted, I could talk to whoever interested me, I booked tours that I wanted to go on, because I decided to, it was empowering. Every decision I made was about me and what I wanted to do. I wasn’t stuck in a group, doing what others wanted. I was free, free to be myself and do whatever I wanted to do. I felt uplifted and I slowly started to find myself.

I spent the first week in Canada staying in Vancouver and exploring Vancouver Island. I spent hours and hours each day walking to the point that I had no idea where I was. I wasn’t afraid of getting lost, in fact I loved it.

I was starting to discover what I enjoyed doing, and I found myself again after years of being lost in the crowd.

After my week in Vancouver, I took a bus for 13 hours out to Lake Louise, where I would call home for the next 6 months, well 12 months as it turned out. Followed by another 6 months later. I absolutely loved it. I had a job with accommodation lined up so went straight to my new place of work to get settled in.

Within an hour of arriving I had made friends. I dropped my bags at home as quick as I could and went down to the river with my new Canadian friends to enjoy a few beverages. I discovered my love for hiking, nature and the great outdoors, and what better place to discover this than Lake Louise.  Lake Louise stole my heart, and it helped my find myself. I will always have a strong attachment to this destination, and it will always be a part of me.

Point of the story is, sometimes you just have to go for it. Was I scared leaving alone at the age of 18? Of course I was, but I did it and have never looked back.

If you liked this post, you might also like – The benefits of a gap year before University

After all, what is the big rush? Take some time off, travel, get lost, explore, discover, live, love and learn. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without the time I took to discover myself.

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Why I packed my bags and moved overseas at the age of 18
Why I packed my bags and moved overseas at the age of 18

These amateur photos are from my first trip to Lake Louise. What a beautiful part of the world hey! See more from Canada here. 

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6 thoughts on “Why I Packed My Bags and Moved Overseas at 18

  • Irene

    I can’t feel more identified with what you write.
    I am 24, about to turn 25 actually. I did a Business degree in my hometown in Spain, and my third year in uni i did it in Ireland. It CHANGED my whole life. I am lost since then. The only think i want is to travel and to live in different countries. Last year i was living in Sydney for 11 months and now i have a working holiday visa to go to Canada.
    My family and friends don’t understand why i do what i do. I feel that pressure you talk about, now it is about finding a proper job and settle down. And that it is the scariest thing for me.
    I love to travel because then i find people with the same ideas and motivations than me.
    Your story is amazing girl!

  • Barry

    I also felt pressured to enroll at university at major in finance. Moving to Canada is a huge step! Did your employer offer you a work visa to work in Canada or do you have canadian residency?

    • atravellersfootsteps Post author

      Hi Barry. I applied for a working holiday visa in Canada, then I started applying for jobs. I have more working holiday resources on my website if you are interested.

  • ninaperrycareers

    Beautiful! Great post Lucy. I’ll be showing this to my kids when they are in Grade 12 🙂
    Lake Louise is on my bucket list for sure!!