Flora Scott, Chemistry, University of British Columbia, Canada
After an amazing year on exchange, despite an inevitable lack of funds, many students (myself included) are not quite ready to go home. Whether you decide to travel after your year abroad, the time, length and type of travel you undertake obviously varies from person to person. There are many options for traveling depending on budget and preference. From my starting point of Vancouver, other exchange students travelled all over the place. From Alaska to New York, Cuba to Montreal. Not forgetting the coast, forests and mountains to explore in Beautiful British Columbia: the province which Vancouver belongs to.
Personally, wanting to stay for as long as possible, I had to think of ways to be thrifty with money. Based off of a recommendation from a friend, I decided to try wwoofing for a few weeks. This involves staying with an individual or a family and working on their farm/ in their garden in exchange for free accommodation and food. This can be in the form of groceries or if you’re lucky your host will cook for you. It’s worth noting that with a student (non-working) visa you’re only supposed to work on non-commercial farms. I was very lucky with my placement. The woman I stayed with was an amazing cook and I was given a large room to stay in her house. It gave me the chance to visit some beautiful islands off of the west coast of Canada which otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to visit otherwise due to the cost of accommodation.
Naturally, it is completely dependent on the placement and some people I have spoken to had a less enjoyable experience. However if there is somewhere you want to visit that is slightly out of your price range it is definitely worth considering. There are other similar organisations such as Workaway, which has a wider variety of jobs. Another option to look into is couch surfing. People advertise their spare rooms through a website in which travellers can stay in for free. I had some friends who managed to do all of their travelling this way and had some very good experiences. One friend became so close to their host family that they’re returning to Colorado in a few weeks to attend the wedding of one of the family members.
Many people also chose to rent campervans. Companies such as Wicked Campers are aimed at young travellers and allow the freedom to travel cross-country without having to worry about expensive accommodation. It is worth being wary that rental companies add young renters fees that can rack up the cost fairly quickly. I spent just over a week driving around the Rocky Mountains. Despite the cost it was definitely worth it as the size of the area would make it difficult to see everything if you chose to travel on foot instead of renting a campervan or a car.
I would definitely recommend putting aside some time and money for the end of your year aboard to do some travelling. I had an unforgettable few weeks and it made the perfect end to an amazing year.