Sometimes, you have to follow the music of life and see where it will lead.
Four years after finishing a stint abroad in England, Dan from Sydney, was still hungry for international experiences and wanted to maximize his option for another adventure before he turned 30 and would no longer be eligible for many Working Holiday experiences.
He carefully considered travel destinations and ultimately decided on Canada.
His work with a multinational employer in Sydney enabled him to easily transfer to a role within the Canadian branch of the company.
“I quit [that position] on good terms and very easily found employment on arrival in Canada with the same company, where I’ve remained to this day,” he said. “I’ve been based out of both Toronto and Montreal over the years and have held five different positions, all of which have exposed me to different ways of working and contributed significantly to my professional growth.”
Dan was born in Adelaide, growing up in Bluewater, a small community about half an hour north of Townsville. He spent four years in Sydney as an adult which gave him a good understanding of both city and country life. But Montreal was a whole different experience.
“I found living in Montreal to be a challenge because of the language difference,” he said.
“I did take French lessons, but I underestimated the amount of time needed to learn a second language. Montreal is a very bilingual city. I’m able to get by pretty well with English, but to get the most out of the city – especially from a social perspective – it’s important to have a basic grasp of French.”
The language wasn’t the only difference between Canada and Australia that Dan noticed.
“Particularly buying milk in bag… the way tax is added at the end of a transaction rather than being included in the product price,” were just a few of the differences he reflected on.
The biggest difference for Dan was the weather, and he said he was thankful that he generally enjoys colder weather. “When it gets down to -35°C, it feels as far away from Australia as you could possibly get,” he said.
As a sound designer and musician, Dan spent three years volunteering for various community theatre companies including the Toronto Irish Players and Scarborough Players. He also had the opportunity to have his first on-stage theatrical experience in a play called Many Young Men Of Twenty by John B. Keane, where he was cast as an accordion player and had to learn the instrument for the role!
He has played gigs around Toronto in a band, with fellow musician Donna O’Regan, and even made it onto breakfast TV to perform her song, Bad Day On The Subway. Dan also recorded his own EP including the song I Wish I Lived in Canada.
Since going to Canada for a Working Holiday and gaining Canadian work experience, Dan was able to apply for permanent residency through Canadian Experience Class.
“I started looking at the Express Entry process around the end of 2016 but I had some trouble gaining the required amount of points to be invited for Permanent Residency. It turned out I’d overlooked the importance of getting my university transcripts from Australia,” he said. “I submitted my Permanent Residency application in May 2017 and received it by October of that year. Then, once I had enough time physically present in Canada, I put in my citizenship application. It took around 15 months between submitting the application and receiving citizenship.”
One of Dan’s most memorable experiences was getting involved in long-distance bike riding. “In 2020, just after we came out of the wave-one [COVID-19] lockdown, I cycled 680km from Toronto to Montréal in five days.”
Despite numerous challenges and adverse weather conditions, Dan said that bike packing was a great way to experience Canada. “It was the perfect way to see the countryside of Ontario and Québec.”
That first adventure, inspired many more bike packing trips, where he discovered new places, including a number of towns and streets that had very familiar names. “There was an area in town where the streets were named after Australian locations. I was stoked to arrive at Townsville Court which branched off Adelaide Avenue – who else can say they’ve found an intersection in a foreign country named after the city they were born in and the city they grew up in?”
Based on his experiences, Dan’s top tip for people going to Canada is to “join a community organisation or some kind whether it be a sporting team, a theatre company, a charity or a language-sharing group.”
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 over 30 IEC 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.
Express Entry manages applications for three economic immigration programs: Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, and Canadian Experience Class. For more permanent residence visa options, visit the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada site.