Life After Exchange

Judi finds the perfect way to keep the adventure of study abroad alive.

As my time at my academic exchange in Singapore was drawing to a close, I was swept over by an inevitable mix of emotions. These ranged from everything between depressing sadness from saying goodbye to new friends (and foods like chilli crab) to excitement from getting to see old friends (and foods like garden salads and non-evaporated milk).

Despite being able to reconnect with my old life back in Canada, I knew that my horizons had been expanded throughout the past four months and the summer I was planning working a quiet office job in Toronto seemed less and less appealing as the days until my new-old reality dwindled away. Instead of letting myself quietly slip back into “regular” life and becoming the girl who always talks about the crazy adventures she used to have, I decided to take things back into my own hands and continue my fun-filled vagabonding.

As much as I wanted to stay in Asia and backpack the continent for four months, school and travelling bills were already burning holes in my pockets and I knew I needed to take some kind of job over the summer. While the job market in Asia is booming, entry wages in Singapore are nowhere near what they are back in Canada. I had also spent the majority of my exchange telling my Singaporean and European classmates how incredible Canada is, despite the fact that I had probably seen more of Asia than Canada at that point. Eventually, I made my decision; I was going to continue to fuel my travel bug infection by travelling my own country and experiencing parts of my own culture.

I looked through countless job search sites and eventually applied for a Youth Canada position sponsored by the federal government. After a midnight interview from the campus library (time differences between Singapore and Canada are fun), I had secured a job as a museum assistant in the Northwest Territories specializing in local northern culture and geography. I wasn’t only going to learn about life in the Canadian north, I was going to be able to teach others about it as well. The government was also going to cover all of my transportation costs (close to $1,500 to fly into a remote town) and was providing me with an attractive wage. My employers understood that I was coming from far away and helped set me up with a place to live for the summer and arranged to personally pick me up from the airport. Since my contract began two weeks after my flight back to Toronto, I had enough time to catch up with friends and family before jetting off in a 10-seater plane to my next adventure.

While a small town of 2,500 in the Northwest Territories don’t have any of the appeals of a big city in Southeast Asia, from the second I landed and could see the sky (something commonly blocked by pollution and skyscrapers in Singapore), I knew I was in for an equally exotic adventure.

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Published in Study Abroad Blogs
Judi Zienchuk

Judi Zienchuk has studied her way across Southeast Asia and boarded down volcanoes in Central America. When she's not gallivanting the globe, you can find her on a bike or consuming large amounts of caffeine. Check out her blog, Travvel Sized.

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