“I went on a horse led sleigh through the forest at Big White Ski Resort, BC. It was bucketing down with snow on that perfect winter’s day as I huddled up closely with my friend Giorgia and we took in our surroundings. As the sleigh bells rang on the horses saddles and the snow fell all around us, I can only compare this experience to living in a real life snow globe.”
Virginia went to Canada in 2017 with her boyfriend Michael. They dreamed of seeking adventure and snowboarding, skiing and hiking humongous mountains. Though these are things Canadians see on their doorstep daily, for an Australian, it’s a unique experience one can only imagine until you are looking at one of the longest mountain ranges in the world. Something Virginia sees as one of the most memorable experiences in Canada was driving out before sunrise to Moraine Lake in Alberta.
“We arrived at the lake that morning weary eyed and cold… but what my eyes saw were nothing short of paradise. As we sat there in our trackies and beanies waiting for the sun’s rays to warm us up, we witnessed a burning orange hue wash over the spectacular mountains that line Moraine Lake. I remember my eyes welled with tears as I acknowledged that this is hands down the most amazing and beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in all of my travels. The orange and pink hue of the sun rising over the mountains and cliffs was contrasted with the most stunning electric aqua blue reflected back from the completely still lake.”
“Moving to Canada was probably the biggest catalyst for personal growth that I’ve had in my adult life,” says Virginia. Having never lived on her own, the move to Canada was a big change and not least of all because it was so far away from her traditional support network. Whilst in Australia, if something went wrong she would find herself reaching out to her sisters or mother.
“I stopped looking outwards for advice and instead started using my own head, which is such a valuable tool that I would never have been in the situation to learn had I not moved overseas and away from my support network.”
“Another thing I learned was to be completely present in the moment. I was aware of how fleeting my time was in Canada during my entire stay there. I knew that there was an expiration on my visa and that I’d ultimately have to go home at some point so this really helped slow down my usually frantic mind and just soak in all of the wonder and beauty of being in a foreign country as vast and special as Canada is.”
“For example, my boyfriend Michael called me outside of our apartment to come see something. He wouldn’t tell me what, which for someone who was warm in bed was a big ask! However, I made a decision I’m forever grateful for. I got out of bed and went to see what all the fuss was about. In my very own backyard I saw a group of people who had built a make shift jump out of snow. They were cooking a BBQ and had music playing. The weather was stunning. I quickly got drawn outside, closer to the group. After some quick catching up we realised this group was a bunch of ski school students who had recently graduated their program and were celebrating with some food and doing tricks off the jump. After watching a few of them doing their thing I realised this was something I wanted to capture on my camera. I ran inside and grabbed it. This was a camera I had only used for personal photos up until this point, however due to its capabilities I thought I’d put it to the test. I sat right under the jump from a safe distance and snapped some of the coolest photos of this group doing some unreal jumps and tricks. A passion sparked within me that day with every photo that I took. I felt a love for photography begin to burn inside of my soul, one that has yet to extinguish. As I clicked away on my camera my appreciation for photography began. Since that moment I took my photography more seriously. I went on to take hundreds of photos during my time in Canada, most of which I’ve shared on the Instagram account I eventually made for my photography (@acuttairlines).
Fast forward a couple of years and I was even privileged enough for one of my photos from my time in Canada to be featured in Lonely Planet Magazine’s very last winter edition before COVID saw it all close down. I have this proudly hanging in my home now and will always have this day back at Big White to thank for sparking my love for photography. I continue to build on my photography skills every day and cannot wait to see where it takes me in the future.”
“I would tell anyone who is remotely interested in moving to Canada to do it. Don’t get in your head about it, it all works out. It’s an experience you cannot pass up. No hurdle should ever be big enough to stop you from going. My biggest tip would be to seize every moment, accept every invite, be open minded, take lots of photos, be yourself and most importantly make it YOUR experience. Don’t be influenced by those around you if you want to go and do something that no one else wants to do. Just go do it. You won’t regret this when you eventually go home and have a whole bunch of fun and amazing memories to cherish forever.”
To share your own #CanAdventure, visit: www.canadadownunder.org.au/canadventure
International Experience Canada (IEC) is a Government of Canada program that allows youth, aged 18-35*, from IEC’s over 30 partner countries/territories to work and travel in Canada for up to two years*. Whether it is to take a gap year, complete a co-op/internship abroad, or gain international work experience after graduation, IEC can help make these experiences happen. To start your own Canada adventure through Working Holiday, Young Professionals or International Co-op Internship, visit www.canada.ca/iec.
*May vary depending on your country of citizenship.