In 2005 I was given a gift that changed my life. Totally and absolutely unexpected I was invited on a trip which I still remember with special happiness and affection.
Some of my aunts, uncles and cousins had been planning a trip for several months. They were thinking about different destinations and noted down places according to whether they had the time and money to go there. I, at that time, was an university student and no I couldn’t even consider joining them. You know… part time job, student life…. I couldn’t afford such a big trip!
But maybe it was the destiny or, who knows? But what happened was that at the last minute one of my uncles could not go on the trip. Since all the tickets and reservations were already paid for, my very very generous family decided to pay the difference and changed the name on the reservation. I still remember the immense sense of happiness I felt when they told me the news!
Our destination was… Canada! We landed in Calgary and we rented cars at the airport (two of those huge GMC 4×4 that you usually see on the roads of Alberta). We began a road trip around the Rocky Mountains, ending in Vancouver, where we took our plane back to Spain. The route was not planned, so we spent nights in places according to how much we liked the place. I remember sitting on a bench in Jasper town and talking to my cousins about how great it would be learn English in a place like this…
Like I said before, I remember that trip with a special affection, not only because that was my first time crossing the Atlantic but because it changed my life.
Years later, after finishing my studies, a masters, finding a good job in my own field and being a victim of the darned Spanish crisis, I was spending my time studying for an exam to access a state job in education. But there were no official exams that year, so I decided it was time for a change. And that was the beginning of how a wonderful idea became a reality.
Thanks to my cousin Marta, I found out about the Woking Holiday Visa, so we, together with our boyfriends, applied for it. Again destiny took a hold of things and just my cousin and I were accepted on the programme. It was a hard decision, but eventually we decided to begin our adventure without our boyfriends.
We arrived in Calgary at the end of 2012 and we spent all winter living in Banff. We enjoyed the snow, the animals and the forest; we met thousands of people and we made a lot of good friends. But the spring came and we missed the beach, so at the beginning of may we found ourselves heading to Tofino, a surfer’s paradise on Vancouver Island. We enjoyed Banff and we enjoyed Tofino all the more: campfires on the beach at night, forests and more forests, whales, eagles, marshmallows…
But the year ended and we wanted more. We went back to Spain, but our minds were far away. Two months later and we were back on a plane to Canada. That time, my boyfriend came with me. He finally had gotten a WHV. But my cousin had decided to travel by herself and get to know a new place.
However, things were more difficult than before. We didn’t have WHV anymore so only had a tourist status. While I was desperate trying to find a sponsor in Banff, Marta landed in Vancouver with the idea of finding a good English school where to study for the six months that she could stay in the country as tourist. Searching and searching, she found UVANU. Ana Tamayo, the Spanish Consultant at that time, became an indescribable source of help. She, always so happy and smiling, helped my cousin with absolutely everything, from finding the best offer to study to recommending very good medical insurance or even finding her a room to rent. But the most important thing, thanks to UVANU, was that we discovered the possibility of extending our stay in the country for one more year. My boyfriend and I moved to Vancouver and I started my CO OP, six months studying English and six months working. Thanks to UVANU I have been able to enjoy this country a little more and I will always be infinitely grateful.
Nowadays I still feel very close to the agency, and I go there every time I need to renew my insurance or pay my taxes. But I don’t only go there to put my affairs in order, I sometimes go there just to say hi to the new Spanish Consultant. Because… can you imagine who took Ana’s place when she decided to end her Canadian adventure…? My cousin Marta is now the one who has this job!!!!
We have now been living in Vancouver for more than a year and it seems like our adventure will last a little longer… And the truth is that we know how things start, but we can never know how or when they will finish…. Like people on the other coast of the country would say… C´est la vie!