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How Do You Keep Travelling

At least once a week someone asks me how do I do it. How do I keep on travelling and how do I it with money. Aah money. The magic word for which every backpacker would wake up for. Just whisper in their ear: “Hello sunshine! Time to rise and shine! Money is waiting for you!”
BAM! I garantuee you, that person will jump out of its bed and be wide awake.
Money, expecially among younger backpackers, seems like a never ending struggle. It is like water in the desert: where can you get it?

In this blog I would like to give you some tips on how to save and earn money while travelling. I will mainly focus on countries where I have been and where you can obtain a Working Hoiday Visa (WHV) such as New Zealand and Australia. With a WHV you can legally work up to 6 months for the same employer. Check the immigration websites for more details as every country has different rules and regulations. Also, make sure you know your rights; there are very nasty companies who do not pay you the right amount or tax you more than you should be.

Little important things to think about, but firtst of all, I would encourage everyone to go travelling. Even if it’s just for a year or so. It really opens up your mind and might makes you change it too. Were you planning on studying? Perhaps you change your study. Did you really wanted to work in IT? Maybe you find out you enjoying working in construction more and maybe your relationship is as good as it seems. Travelling gives you knew insights and perspectives on your live but also on yourself. Some people call it: “finding yourself“. It sounds a bit too dreamy for me but you will find out a great deal about yourself and work on your social aspects. You might needs to push some boundaries and step out of your comfort zone more often than you hoped for.

To keep on travelling might have been a conscious descision or not. You might have , at one point, decided to continue and explore another country. Others just go with the flow and they have just ended up somehow, travelling on. I belong in the latter catergory. It was the mere suggestion of my partner who suggested that we could go to Australia after New Zealand, and so we did. We started dreaming of other places and where to go next. Because you as free as a bird, you can do whatever you want to do and that feels great.

However, this doesn’t mean I am lying on the beach the whole day, sleep in, stay up late, party and consume lots of booz and drugs, like some of my friends and family are thinking. I would like to get this huge misunderstanding out of the way. Surely, there are backpackers who do that and love it but if you are travelling on a long term basis – let’s say, longer than 1 year – it becomes a lifestyle and who wants to live, needs to eat. Who needs to eat, needs money to buy food. Thus, you probably need to work at some point. (There are still many backpackers calling their parents for money…). Travelling can be hard work. We tend to wake up early and go to bed around 9-ish. Making a cup of coffee or tea involves a bit more than just putting the kettle on. Little things take much more time as you have limited space or facilities.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love camping and living in a car but it does require some energy.

When we settle down for a few months to fill up our wallets, we both go out looking for a job. I will be the one backpackers waking up with the whisper: “money is waiting for you”. But to get that money, I will have to work.

So here we come to tip no. 1. WORK. The magic word. But not every backpacker will jump out of its bed to work. Specially if you don’t like your job. In my case, I’m working 2 jobs and both of them are quite OK but not fantastic. It does bring in a fair bit of income but it is brain draining too. Knowing it is just for a short period – usually 2 or 3 months – I can deal with it.  Easy jobs are not dreamjobs. For example housekeeping. It is something I have done many times before and very easy to get. Still, I absolutely loathe it but when I look in the long term, it will keep me on the road for a while.

You don’t need to do things you don’t like. I choose to work easy jobs as I want to start quick and work hard to earn a lot of money. That is why I don’t look to long for a job and take the first thing I get. Others do look a bit longer and ending up with someting they more enjoy – or not.
A huge adventage of working while travelling is that you can try many things. Actually, you can do anything you want! In the countries where I have been, nobody cares about your education; as long you have the right attitude. Your experience list will grow rapidly. I can proudly say I have worked as a: cheesemaker, vegan baker, kitchenhand, sheep herder, housekeeper, doorknocker, car sales(wo)man, barista, waitress, receptionist, grape picker. On a blue Monday I have changed engine oil and break fluid for someone on a parking lot in Christchurch.

Tip no. 2 will sound like your mother. Or an accountant. Simply, don’t spend that much. Do you really need to stay in a caravan park for $45 a night? Do you really need to have a take-a-way coffee every day and $3 croissant? You can spend your money in a more sufficient way. Think in the long-term and about practical things. Great that you have 5 different shorts and 3 pair of jeans but how do you want to carry that around? It is better to invest in things you will need on the long run on your journey than buying new stuff all the time. Good hiking shoes or a head light are one of the things you can spend your money on and enjoy them for a long time.

So the conclusion? How to keep on travelling?  First of all: work whenever you have the change. Even if you don’t really have to work but you are still settling down for a few months, you should find a job. You will be grateful in the end as it will keep you on the road for a long strecht.
Second: don’t spend all your earnings on crap you don’t need. In matter of fact, try to safe up as much as possible. Let’s be honest, do you really need to have 6 pairs of shoes? And third: work and travel your own way. I have met many backpackers who either work 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, or people who don’t work and be drunk every night. These are 2 complete different examples of how you can travel. Most important is that you do it your way. If you don’t feel comfortable working 7 days a week, than don’t. Keep things fun; it is your journey.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

When Germany opened its borders for 1 million refugees, Australia allowed 12 000 asylum seekers into the country. This is just a fraction compared to Merkel´s quota, especially when we look at the size and population. With 22 million inhabitants and a land of the size of North America, you would think it is more plausible that Australia would take in a few more. This, however, is not the case, at all. Australian immigration policies are complicated and make it very difficult for immigrants to enter or settle down. Yes, it is one of the most multicultural societies in the world, but that doesn’t mean it is very welcoming to strangers.

With 4 coastlines to protect, one of the most discussed issues for Australia is to hold back the illegal immigrants, coming from Indonesia by boat. These people are so desperate, they get on a tiny dingy and cross the Indian Ocean in the hope to find some luck in this sunburned country. Unfortunately, most of them get the status “unlaw-ful non-citizens and end up in a detention center where they are waiting to be deported. They will not be granted a visa and deportation can take up to a few years. The detention centers are known for being harsh and problematic. Over the last few years, riots have been taken place and asylum seekers have sewed their lips together as a form of protest. It is the uncertainty and desperation for these people what drives to anger.

The discussion about boat immigrants, as they are often called, played up after the Paris attacks. The question was if Australia was safe, and what would happen if they would allow more immigrants into the country. The majority of the population was afraid of a terrorist attack. People explained that it is “very likely” that something will happen because “you don’t know where the enemy is.” Paris was taken by the media and politicians as an example to show what could happen if a country takes up too many immigrants. It confirmed what the majority feared if Australia would take more refugees.

In the past, Australia hasn’t always been so neglecting to foreigners. In the 1970s, there was a completely different approach to refugees. The immigration minister back in 1976, Michael MacKellar said the following after the first boat of Vietnamese asylum seekers arrived in Darwin:
“As a matter for humanity, and in accord with international obligation freely entered into, Australia has accepted a responsibility to contribute towards the solution of world refugee problems.”
Promises were made to use the “full resources” for current and future refugees, because of “moral rightness”.

What has changed over the years and how did it changed? Media nowadays, uses phrases such as “potential terrorists”, “job-takers” and “illegals”. The promised “full resources” turned out to be detention centers which I have briefly mentioned above and the Australian Border Force, which aims to protect and control the movement of people and goods across the border. Why is Australia nowadays so neglecting towards asylum seekers?

It is a tricky question and a complex answer.

One thing is clear: Australia has changed as has their way of thinking and talking about aslyumn seekers. Immigrants are not regarded as victims of war or traumatic events, rather they are considered as persons who come here to work. By changing the way of discussion in public, it is changing the view on the subject. Another example is the phrase “how to stop the boats” instead of helping people. The detention centers are build out of vision of the Australian citizen. This creates the thought: “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Recently I have talked to a local named Jack about this topic. He stated that humanity should be ashamed of itself of what is happening in the world with the massive stream of immigrants. His argument was explained in a long speech and contradicted himself by concluding that Australia does not want more immigrants. “We are accepting more than enough refugees already. We don’t want them here, they can go somewhere else.” So if the world should be ashamed of himself, should Australia be too? Would it not be a better idea to help those people instead of putting them away? Jack sighted and looked annoyed. “Look, we probably could do more but we don’t want to. We have our own problems to take care of.Australia could do more, yes that is true, but does it want to? As far as I can see, no. Perhaps some issues are, indeed, too far out of sight to be kept in mind.

Willing Working On an Organic Farm

Whether you have just finished your high school, Bachelor or Master, you might start to think about taking a gap year. Australia is one of the countries which offers a one year Working Holiday Visa (WHV). The visa allows you to work and travel for a year, throughout the country. It is a great way to experience its culture, cruise around and earn a bit of money. If one year is not enough, you can apply for a second WHV. However, you need to fit certain requirements. One of them is that you need to have done your 3 months specified work – also known as “the 88 days”.

The 88 days of specified work is explained in Document 1263, which you can find on the Australian immigration website. It tells what kind of work is elidigble and in which region. For example, work in hospitality, in all states, does not count, but picking apples in Tasmania does. It does not matter if you work two weeks here, one month there and another one and a half month somewhere else, as long your employer signs your days off. In any case, it is improtant that you are up to date with the visa regulations and restrictions. There are major consequenses if you fraud your days such as being refused at the boarder or paying a high fine.

So what work is elidigble and what not? Not everything is clearly stated in the Document and it can be utterly frustrating and confusting. The best way to find out is to ask your boss before you start the job or to call the immigration line.

Most jobs which count are positions on cattle stations, mining, fruit picking and pearling. The specified work is not always fun and I would not like to pick mangoes ever again. But everyone has his own favourite and it all depends on where you end up and you want to do or learn.
If you do not like the idea of working long hours for minimum pay in the hot sun with the eyes of an angry manager piercing in your back, than there is something like WWOOFing.

WWOOF stands for Willing Working On an Organic Farm. It means you are volunteering four to six hours on an organic farm in exchange for food and accomodation. To goal is to learn something about farming, the culture and country you are visiting. It is an international organization and even Holland has a department.
WWOOFing jobs can variate from feeding wildlife, planting and harvesting crops to tree planting or conservation work. Part from the learning factor, you will meet people with the same intension – namely, to help and learn – as you and a much friendlier boss who will not scream at you when you accidently put the compost on the zucchini plants instead of the tomatoes. To put in short: the atmosphere and vibe are much better. Plus, you will end up in the most ridiculious places.

Personally, I was lucky enough to learn how to make cheese and herd sheep for two months in Tasmania. How many people can say that they have milked sheep and led them from paddock to paddock? At the moment of writing, I am WWOOFing at a butterfly farm in the Nothern Territory. Every day, I have to catch butterflies, harvest lettuce and tomatoes for the kitchen, maintain the vegetable garden and feed a trizillion of bunny rabbits, chickens, goats and geese.

But there is a problem with the WWOOFing system as well. Many places do not have a register or precise overview of who is staying or going. Owners sign of more days than WWOOFers were actually there and some farms do not treat their volunteers that well. That is why the Australian gournement decided that WWOOFing will not be eligible for the 88 days anymore. WWOOFing has to become paid work.

Is that a problem? I believe so. First of all, the intention of WWOOFing falls away. WWOOFing is volunteering, the persons are in general more mature and care more about what they are doing. A majority of the persons with who I worked told me they like WWOOFing because of the unique experience and the oppertunity to learn something. Above all, it feels good to help someone, especially when you start to see what needs to be done.
Second, many family businesses rely on WWOOFers as they are a cheap way to replace workers. It is not all about the money, that is true. For them WWOOFing is often a liftestyle. They have been working with WWOOFers for years. Their idea is that, every person has its own skills and that is what makes WWOOFing work. One is good in gardnening, the other in cleaning and guys are very helpful when it comes to construction. All these little pieces make one big puzzle.

I cannot more agree with this vision and I truly hope the gouverment changes her mind.

As for now, I keep enjoying my butterfly catching and picking tomatoes.

My Way to make money: Ward Zonneveld

Ward Zonneveld at work © Brian Megens

Ward Zonneveld at work © Brian Megens

As bills don’t pay themselves an income is required, some obtain it by working for a wage, others by starting up their own business and some are so talented that they can make an income out of their hobby. In the Weekly column ‘My way to make money’ we interview a student or a university employee about their job or business and ask them questions about how they experience their work.

This week we interview Ward Zonneveld a 21 year old student who’s doing a master in Human Movement Sciences at the FHML faculty. Ward is a typical student who likes to hang out with friends, play videogames and sometimes visits the UM Sport gym to stay in shape. In order to pay the bills he works in the Albert Heijn as a re-stocker.

A regular day at work looks like…
Usually, I walk into the store with my blue Albert Heijn shirt on and go straight to the stockroom to check my job for the day. I drive into the store , trying not to run over customers, with the container filled with goods that need to be stocked on the shells. When the container is in place, I can place the products on the shelves. At the end I clean my mess up and see if I can go home or help someone else.

I like my job because…
Although this job seems quite boring, I get to know a lot of people, colleagues, that later turn out to be good friends. During work we talk about the people walking by, football and the regular small talk, which makes the job a little more exciting. It is also nice to see friends do their shopping while I am working. Helping customers with questions and sometimes even give them advice is also a nice distraction from re-stocking the shelves.

The thing that makes the job hard is…
that I always have to work at dinner time, so I have to cook before or after work. Also customers that ask questions like ‘Where are the eggs?’ when they are just clearly 1 meter away, can challenge your temper. However, the one that is the most annoying is the music played in the store, it is just awful; it makes me want to use earplugs which I of course am not allowed to do.

I got this job by…
As every student needs money, me and a friend sought a job and found one at the Albert Heijn in the Helmstraat, close to the Vrijthof. They had some posters on the walls saying that they needed employees, so we went in, asked if this was still the case, and applied for the job. After a short interview I got the job and could start working.

The main reason for choosing this job is…
I had previous experience in another supermarket. Therefore, I knew that it was relatively well paid and the work itself was not that tough or difficult. Also you have many colleagues and you can work together and have social contacts. So when I saw they were looking for new employees I could not see any reason not to apply.

The time I spent in doing my job is…

Two to three evenings a week you can find me working in ‘AH Helmie’ for a 2 or 4 hour shift, that makes it about six hours a week. Therefore, this can perfectly be combined with the study as it does not take too much time and the study contains a lot of self-study which I can do whenever it suits me.

I didn’t expect the job to be…
working such short shifts, I often work for only two hours straight and then I am done. Longer shifts for fewer times a week would suit me better as it takes less time in preparation.

Later in life I’ll be…
A researcher with focus to sports or rehabilitation. I am really interested in perfecting training programs for obese people and/or athletes, movements and rehabilitation techniques is really my passion, therefore it would be great if I could turn this into my job!

Maastricht’s Famous Musician: Andre Rieu at Vrijthof

Do you know André Rieu? If you were anywhere near the city-center this weekend you couldn’t miss the crowded streets and the fenced off Vrijthof. All because of the famous Maastricht violinist who is performing his ninth Maastricht’s concert series this year. During three weekends Rieu directs the Johan Strauss Orchestra, that was established in 1987 by Rieu himself. The concerts provide a mixture of classical music and particular Dutch songs such as ”Aan de Amsterdamse grachten” and more importantly, the anthem of Maastricht. The public comes generally down to 1. international 2. admirers and 3. elderly people. From all around the world they come to see Rieu, buses packed with people from England, Denmark and Austria came to Maastricht to obtain the André Rieu Live Experience. Hardly any hotel was affordable or available this weekend.

All these people, who totally occupied Maastricht last weekend and probably will continue occupying our lovely city the next two weekends, probably had a hard time understanding the great maestro who welcomed the public, introduced his guests and made his jokes in Mestreech’s dialect. However, despite its lack of local cultural knowledge, the public enjoyed Maastricht’s musician. Couples started dancing through the rows as if they had fallen in love once again. The Friday night showers weren’t a drawback looking at the amount of people dancing at the end of the first Rieu concert of the year. His popularity all around the world has been confirmed to me, although I don’t consider myself one of his admirers, but certainly for once one of his red clothed piccolo’s.

 

Best Websites for Procrastination

#1.  Facebook I know, I know.  But it is what it is, right?

#2. PostSecret The sad, the beautiful, the disturbed, comcom
hopeful… they all have secrets.  And we can read them!

#3. Stumble Upon Just create an account.  You know you want to.

#4. YouTube  Duh.  Who HASN’T spent a good amount of time browsing youtube.  But have you seen this one yet?

\”Sophia Grace meets Nicki Minaj\”

Only in America…

#5.  Food Gawker For when you have no food and no money to buy any food, and want to torture yourself.

#6.  The Huffington Post Because then we can pretend that we have an intellectual reason for not studying.

#7.  RyanAir Oh the places we’ll go..

#8. Wereldwerk.eu Who else is so NOT spending the summer waitressing?

#9. FML If you get to page 100, you have a problem.  But then, so do most of the people posting on this website.

#10.  Occupy Wall St. One of few events in the U.S. that I regret not being there for.

#11. BodyRock Yes, it looks trashy.  But the workouts are hard… for those days when you just can’t make yourself leave the house.

#12.  The Big Picture When you’re too tired to read the news.

 

Okay, that’s enough.  I don’t want to be responsible for anyone failing their exams.

Good luck everyone!

 

 

Update. Summer> Maastricht> INKOM

I apologise for not posting any blogs in a while, I have been very busy what with family summer holidays (apparently wifi access is almost impossible to get in the north of Scotland…), student finance applications, working in Maastricht and seeing all my friends and family in Edinburgh.

[Not all of these things however, are unrelated – as you will see in my post ‘Student Study Finance: A Blessay’ there is a lot to be done when applying for student finance.]

Although excuses out of the way, I have posted 3-for-the-price-of-one blogs in one dollop – so there is more than enough blog-ness to be getting on with.

The summer holidays drawing to an end for many, and as I write this there is a raging storm outside which pretty much signals the end to sun, ice-cream and shorts…

Behind me is my family holiday to the Isle of Skye, off the West coast of Scotland (see above re: lack of internet), as are my rounds of family/friends catching up with in Edinburgh. Also behind me are the days of stressing about study finance, my job in Maastricht and moving apartments. It was really nice seeing my friends and family who I have missed massively and now I am back in Maastricht. I have been working in Maastricht for most of August and can’t wait for my uni friends to return! J

Ahead for many a Maastricht student is returning to the city of cobbles, or the settling in for the first time for the many 1st year students arriving this August/September. Therefore it also goes without saying that a large amount of students will be looking forward to the huge introduction party in Maastricht: INKOM.

INKOM (for those who don’t know) is a city-wide introduction festival  for 5 days with parties, info events, parades and lots more! See http://www.inkom.nl/?lang=en for details.

I will be covering the various events of INKOM in FULL (or as full as I can make it without collapsing from the awesomeness of it all). So if you want to know what is hot/not/medium/weird/too dutch/not dutch enough/too drunken/too sober/must bring your own umbrella, drink, food, clothes or flying elephant – then this is the place to keep checking up on for INKOM updates! J

Also ahead of many is the beginning of a new academic year – which means new books, new stationary, new friends (optional), new tutors, new courses and lots of other new interesting stuffys and thingys.

With that can also come lots of renewed nerves/anxiety about starting up again. Especially for those starting first year.

I, personally am a little nervy (eg. will my new courses be too difficult?, will I be able to hold down a job on top of this?, will I make new friends or will my pet dragon put people off…. etc etc). So I have been doing lots of relax-y/chill-y things like saunas, face masks, long baths, good movies (and bad ones) as well as a good dose of cola (my latest addiction).

For now I hope you enjoy my two other “informative” blogs and good luck with the start of uni again!