Embarking on a working holiday in a foreign land is like opening a treasure chest of opportunities and experiences. Today, we dive into McKenzie’s story after a year working abroad in the UK on our Camp Job program.
In this lively Q&A, we’ll uncover McKenzie’s motivations, cultural discoveries and general experience while working abroad. She also shares how Stepabroad supported her journey and offers tips for newcomers adjusting to the UK. Plus, you won’t want to miss her unforgettable moments exploring the UK as we dive into her travel experiences.
If you’re curious about working holidays, new cultures, and unforgettable experiences, join us on McKenzie’s adventure. Whether you’re considering a working holiday in the UK or just seeking inspiration, McKenzie’s story is a must-read. Let’s dive in behind the scenes and learn all about it!
Hello! My name is McKenzie, I am twenty-three years old and from a small town in Ontario Canada. Since I was fifteen, I have had the travelling bug and have wanted to work and live abroad but because of my fears, I did not get the chance to have this experience until this year. Truth be told I had given up on going abroad until I saw an advertisement for step abroad on my social media page, I decided then and there to face my fears and fulfill my long-time wish of working and living abroad. The Step Abroad team was very friendly, easy to communicate with, and eager to help me through every step of the process and made me feel less stressed and that things would be done correctly without any hiccups. I am grateful for the opportunity and once-in-a-lifetime experience that Step Abroad helped make happen.
When I decided to live in the UK, I anticipated that there would be changes to the way the work culture would be but since I graduated from university not too long before coming to arriving, I was not sure what to expect or how it would differ from Ontario Canada. From the experience I have had, I would suggest that the work culture is friendlier, and people are more likely to want to get to know you and see you outside of work.
A memorable interaction I had with some of my colleagues that has impacted my overall experience would be how friendly and understanding they have all been and how they have helped me adjust to living away from home. When I first arrived, I was very scared and wanted to go home because I was uncomfortable in the new setting, but throughout my first few weeks, everyone checked up on me and did their best to make me feel as at home as possible which I will always appreciate.
At the time I decided to work and live in the UK, I was unsure what avenue I wanted to pursue my career, but I knew I wanted to work with children. Working at camp solidified my choice to have a career with children but it also helped me make the decision of if I wanted to work hands-on with them or in the background.
Ultimately, I enjoyed being an activity instructor, but I came to realize that I am good at and feel fulfilled working behind the scenes helping make the children’s stay the best possible instead of running sessions all day. Now that I understand myself and my career aspirations a little better, I am ready to pursue my future career when I come back to Canada.
The working holiday program allowed me to have colleagues not only from the UK but also from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, and Portugal. I feel as though I have learned a lot from the multicultural environment at camp because everyone brings different strengths that they learned in their home countries through this, you learn new ways of doing tasks and problem-solving that you probably wouldn’t have known otherwise.
I have also had the experience of working with children from all over the globe and learning bits and pieces of their culture, language, and how they view the world which has positively changed my own perceptions of life.
Feeding off of the questions above, the highlight of my time at camp would be making friends from all over the world which is one of the reasons I chose to work here. Due to the living situation which is similar to dorms you spend all your time with your coworkers which results in some of the best bonds and friendships you will ever make. Currently, I have friends that feel as close as family from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and all over the UK and because of this, I can now travel to all those countries knowing that I have friends that I can visit.
The food in the UK is different than the food in Canada although it does have its similarities. For example, the UK (at least Scotland) has chips and cheese which is as common as poutine is in Canada. One of my favorite dishes to eat in Scotland is a chippy otherwise known as fish and chips and have a deep-fried Mars bar for dessert. Although I have tried haggis, I will say it’s not for me and I will stick to eating deep-fried Mars bars but everyone who comes to Scotland should try both and the decision for themselves.
I have a few favourite outdoor locations I would like to share. The first one is close to where I live and work in Scotland and is called the hermitage, it is a stunning location and great for photos and It has lots of mini waterfalls. The second location is Glencoe Scotland which has the three sister mountains on the west coast. If you go at the right time, you will see the fog/mist on the top of the mountain and the water running down them.
When I arrived in the UK, I did not expect there to be a small language barrier between myself and some of the locals. Simple words and phrases have very different meanings in the UK compared to Canada. Some examples I struggled with when I first arrived were trousers instead of pants, lorry instead of transport truck, bin instead of garbage, and chips instead of calling everything fries. I did not do anything to overcome the language barrier, over time you adjust to the way things are pronounced and the words that are used so much so that you use them yourself.
While at the camp I worked as both an activity instructor and a group leader as well as cross-departmentally in housekeeping and kitchen. As an activity instructor, you are in charge of running four sessions a day plus evening activities for the children whereas as a group leader, you can be in charge of a group anywhere between forty-eight and sixty children making sure their stay is pleasant and acting as the liaison between the camp and the leaders that came with the children.
One experience I will never forget is a couple of my friends and I decided to do a spontaneous trip to the west coast of Scotland at 2 pm in the afternoon. We visited Fort Williams, Glencoe, and Oban all before arriving back on site in the pouring rain at 11 pm at night and we all had to work the next day. I was exhausted when I woke up, but it was worth it for the amazing views I got to see and the people I spent time with.
Interested in finding out more about our UK Camp Working Holiday Program? Reach out to one of our travel advisors via this form and we can help plan your UK adventure just like McKenzie!
“Stepabroad has been nothing short of amazing! We would not be in Spain right now without them, and we are forever grateful for the incredible experience working with them. THANK YOU!”
“They helped me get my resume out to Japanese companies they are partnered with and I was able to get interviews and a job from there! If you’re looking into working abroad, definitely get in contact.”
“Stepabroad was paramount in making my transition from Canada-Australia smooth and efficient! I would recommend the company to anyone looking for travel guidance, and I will be using the company again.”
“I mean Robyn is great. Always very quick to respond and even after I got to England and still had questions, she helped me out. Also emailed me to make sure I was okay as well which warmed my heart.”
“The support and help I received all throughout the months leading to departure were indispensable! I’m very glad to have chosen to travel with Stepabroad for my Working Holiday in New Zealand. Thanks!”
“Yeosong has been very friendly and helpful. The ease of mind of knowing someone is there to answer your questions is worth the price alone.”