Welcome to OZ

With all the planning and paperwork just about completed and a Bank balance secured to be allowed into the Country, Jess settled down to enjoy the Vegetable Cannelloni and her flight with Virgin Australia. Besides from including the Visa which had to be obtained before leaving the UK, the STA Work Package included the following benefits below.

Firstly, the Airport transfer to the Hostel via an email link. The Airport transfer would take her and other fellow backpackers to the ‘Wake Up!’ Hostel in Sydney for a stay of 5 nights – food not included – to start the Australian Dream. ‘Wake Up!’ is a 2 minute walk from the nearby STA Sydney Branch that would hold the ‘Orientation Day’ (the following day). There she would get lots of other Work Package benefits – a mobile SIM card, a pre-paid Opal card ($25), a work mentor, help with setting up Medicare, Job assist, Tax File Number, CV help and ability to print out forms and use computers.

Before leaving they had also sent lots of advice and tutorial videos to help including setting up a Bank Account. All that Jess had to do was locate the Bank and ‘present’ herself to get her Bank card. All of this was a lot easier than she thought, and for her it was worth paying a bit extra for the Work Package. There were no hiccups and it did what it said!

What wasn’t easy was being in her own company!!


After a few weeks of laid back Island life, City Life was quite a bombshell! Having made new friends and then saying goodbye to them, including Pat and Matt – who still had a month left travelling before arriving in Oz – Jessie after arriving 10 hours earlier wanted to get the first plane back!

Everything was too BIG, and loud and alienating. After a long reassuring pep talk and a midnight room swap – organised by the very good staff at ‘Wake Up!’ – into a much smaller, quieter, all female dorm, Jess woke up the next day with a much healthier, positive attitude.

Off she went to get her Bank sorted and a little walk around the area. Lots of interesting places to discover – ‘Wake Up!’ is located on Pitt Street in the China Town area of Sydney. The beautiful Chinese Garden of Friendship is a 10 minute walk. A good place to be by oneself. The Orientation day went very well and by the end of Day 2 Jess had a long list of things to sort and do. This included signing up and paying for a 5 Day Surf Camp featured at the Orientation.

“It jus seems sick”. and “I’ll meet loads of people there as well”

So at the top of the list was Putting name down for Surf Camp – 5 days of surfing at Seven Mile Beach, living in huts, all meals included! I reminded her about her final Rabies Jab. But she had sorted it already, she had to go to a Doctor and get a referral to another doctor.

“it’s quite straightforward”


At 8:30 pm Jess had butterflies and the sick feeling in her stomach again, she couldn’t stand the feeling of being alone and didn’t’ want to stay. But by 10:30 pm a new girl arrived in the dorm and asked her if she wanted to watch the fireworks going on outside – It was Year of the Pig and a lot of early celebrations were occurring. Bingo!! New friend. The following day the pair met another girl and they went on a Tour Book walking tour! -Amazing!

“I’m currently in an Art Gallery”

A few hours later they were off to Manly on the ferry at the discounted Sunday Price of $2.50 instead of $7.50. Jessie’s new friend recognised a few young women on Manly and they very kindly bought them all a bottle of Prosecco for lunch. Sailing by Sydney Opera House with excellent company and the rest of the day at Manly to enjoy Jessie had found her rhythm again.


Jessie had to pack and get ready to go to Surf Camp. The hostel were helpful and allowed her to cut her stay short by one night but let her have that night back in a weeks time for her return. This must be common practice as she was given a card to keep and show on her return. Seven Mile Beach is a 2 hour drive South of Sydney and the tour bus collected her at 9am. Let’s just say she was very excited! There is limited Wifi there, but it can be bought for extra cash if desperate. The camp uploads photos and videos so after 2 days I was able to see how much fun she was having. It was a healthy, happy, positive place. She did manage to get a few messages to me though –

“Stood up 4 times today”

“Soz, just got back from surf was such a good day we are about to eat and look at the film they made”

Jess made lots of good buddies and happy memories plus acquired a new skill and love of Surfing. They had great food and the staff were excellent hosts. Jess shared a hut with 5 other girls of all different nationalities. She found out that she loved being outside and by the sea and didn’t want to be in the City.

With that in mind she made the decision to buy a Greyhound Pass to travel North along the coast after the camp and meet up with some good friends who were also in Oz. Luckily STA in the UK were still having their Winter Sale and Jess was able to buy a 45 Day Greyhound Pass for the price of a 21 Day Pass. She emailed her work mentor at Work OZ / STA in Sydney and they organised it, she just had to pay. Excellent News!

Jess planned ahead and got a seat reserved to go to Byron Bay the day after her return from Surf Camp. She had her one night at ‘Wake Up!’ already booked and a day to explore Sydney a little more.

Plus a friend from home had bought Jess an Airbnb experience. Jessie had been looking forward to this since she arrived in Australia – A walk around Cadi Jam Ora, an award winning garden in The Royal Botanical Garden, Sydney. She was to have a one to one tour with a guide who could share his knowledge about the culture of Aboriginal Peoples and the Cadigal and let her enjoy her love of being in good company!