Why England?

In Canada, the Youth Mobilization agreements allow Canadians within certain age categories to travel on Working Holiday Visas to a variety of countries including (but not limited to) the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Belgium and New Zealand. Why then did England become my Working Holiday destination of choice? Short answer – Because it’s awesome.

Okay, okay, I know, that is a terrible answer please don’t run away. I do actually have a number of reasons behind my selection but hear me out on my defense for my initial statement. When I first started thinking about this trip over a year ago, I had never heard of the Working Holiday Visa program. The reasons that led me to type “Canadian working in England” into Google weren’t at all well thought out. I just felt the “pull” – that gentle and yet insistent tug that leads you to go to new places, try new activities and even try new foods. I wanted to work and experience culture in a different part of the world and I wanted that part of the world to be England.

It’s the same pull that led me switch my undergraduate major from Math to History. Were there logical reasons beyond this intangible “pull” that led me to switch majors? Without a doubt. But without that initial pull I would never have put thought into the deeper reasons, and would never have worked up the courage to switch. There are more developed reasons for my decision to work in England as well. But it all began with that initial, undeniable pull.

Okay – are you still with me? Because now’s the time when I fill you in on some of the other answers to the question “Why England?”

1. Minimal Language barrier. The only language I am fluent in is English (though I do have knowledge of both French and German to varying degrees). Travelling to a place where you only have a basic understanding of the local language comes with a different set of risks and rewards. Since I will be looking for a job to support myself, being fluent in the local language is a definite asset. Some of the Visa programs even specify that you have to be fluent in the language of the country but even if they did not, I assume that having limited knowledge of the language would greatly reduce the likelihood of getting a job.

2. Museums and Jobs in Heritage. If possible I would like to find a job in a museum or other part of the heritage sector. This would allow me to gain experience in my field, experience that can be difficult to gain in Ontario since there are fewer museums and therefore fewer entry-level jobs. My hope is that with more history, more museums and more tourist destinations connected to history and culture, I’ll have a better chance of obtaining an entry level job in the culture and heritage sector.

3. Location, Location, Location. I’d like to visit Scotland, Ireland and Wales. As a Canadian military historian, I want to travel in France, Germany and possibly the Netherlands. From the point of view of a Canadian (have you seen how spread out we are?), England is a hop, skip and a jump away from all of those places. In addition to all of these there are also all the places within England that I’d like to visit.

4. Jane Austen, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter and the BBC. All of these and more have contributed to my interest in visiting England. I grew up watching Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes, reading Narnia, the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. And who can deny the influence of Harry Potter, the Doctor and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock? All of these programs, movies and books have shaped my perception of British culture and I can’t wait to visit the land that has produced so many beloved characters and stories. And, let’s be real here, who can deny the pull of that accent!

There you have it, four (five if you count the pull) answers to the question “Why England?” Sometimes I wonder if any of these are enough to justify packing up and putting my life in Canada on hold for extended period. But then I realize that I don’t need an iron clad reason. I am a Canadian and a Canadian military historian. There is no denying that England played a part in the history of this country (whether you believe this is for good or for bad does not change this fact). Canadian military history is intricately linked with many aspects of British military history. I think all of these are excellent reasons to settle on England for my extended stay. And as I said initially – that’s pretty awesome.

Life’s an Adventure!

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