OHHHH CANADA. My home and native landdddd of maple syrup and cool accents that have long ‘o’ and ‘a’ sounds. Oh sure, this place is pretty neat for a gap year abroad if you ask me. What’s there to do in Canada, besides eat your weight in Canadian ham and butter tarts? You can check out the beautiful Niagara Falls (on the Canadian side) and see the spectacular light show as the water changes colors. Or you can also go whale or iceberg watching on Fogo Island. The Titanic won’t be out in these waters, we promise. Ready to say ‘oh yeah’ to your gap year in Canada?
Let’s goooo! Wait, where you going? Canada is a massive country and they have a variety of culture within every province. In some places, you’ll be wanderlust within the big city lights and the next, you’ll feel right in Europe with the French influence. So many options for one experience. Looking for some thoughts on deciding your new Canadian home? Here are some of GoAbroad’s favorite cities for a gap year programs in Canada.
Montreal. Art lessons, French classes or learn how to ice skate… Come on down (er, up?!) to Montreal! While you’re there, swing by the Notre Dame Basilica and view it’s breathtaking stained glass window. Next, swing by the Old Montreal district and take a stroll down the cobblestone streets. Not only is the architecture stunning with French charm, but the food is to die for. If you don’t try poutine on your gap year in Canada, did you really go?
Toronto. Go to a Maple Leaf NHL game or master icing fish in Lake Ontario all while doing gap year programs in Canada. Join the rowdy crowd and cheer on the boys! Best views can be found all the way at the top of the CN Tower. This is the city’s staple that has glass floors and elevators. Wanna show it to your family? No prob. It’s basically on every postcard.
Victoria. Study botany amongst the Butchart Gardens or study the royal history of Canada in the lovely city of Victoria. But the one fun item that makes this city unique is their peacocks. Yes, that’s right. You can find live, blue peacocks roaming free throughout the Beacon Hill Park. Not only do they have cool animals, but they also have an outdoor theater. At night, take a stroll out to the harbour and witness the beautiful scenery of the quaint city surrounded in lights.
Now that you have some ideas for your home away from home, you gotta be productive on your gap year. Every gap year program can have a theme or purpose behind it. Pick something you’re passionate about and make it your apart of your daily life. A gap year in Canada has so much to offer and who knows? You might turn this into your career.
Ski Instructor. Home to the biggest ski resort in North America, a gap year in Canada spent at the Whistler-Blackcomb Mountains is unforgettable. It’s some of the best skiing in Canada. With over 800 acres of pure power, diamonds, and tourists, this would be the best place to become a ski instructor. Do you have the patience and leadership skills to teach a beginner how to shred down the slopes?
Wilderness. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Actually, there’s just bears (and moose) in the Canadian woods. There is a power greater than anything in the universe that nothing is impossible for. One only has to look at the sunrise while soaking up the green around you. Relax in the woods, count the various populations of fish, and study the soaring birds while camping in Canada.
Sports Coaching. What’s one thing that Canadians value more than maple syrup? Easy. HOCKEY. With over five teams throughout the country, Canadians are diehard hockey fans. Looking to do some coaching? Well, gap year programs in Canada are the right place for you. Puck handling, skating, and defense can’t teach themselves, after all.
Everything else you need to know about gap years in Canada
Costs. So no matter where you go, you gotta save that money so you can pay for that amazing experience. Get your looneys and tooneys in order (you’ll understand soon enough) then get it together and work as much as you can before you hit the road. Ever heard of that song, work hard, play hard? Wiz was right. Start your collections by checking out FundMyTravel and get that money.
Accommodations. Where are you gonna unload your backpack when you arrive? Have an idea of your living situation overseas? Before you make up your mind, chat with your gap year in Canada program advisor. They know all the deets into the best places to stay. If I were you, def stay with a host family. They cook, clean, and show you the culture first hand.
Visas. Gone for some gap year programs in Canada, you betcha you’ll need a visa. This allows you to stay in a country for a full 365 days legally. There’s different types of visas out there: working holiday, work, student, volunteer, etc. Not sure what one you need? Consult with your gap year in Canada program advisor. Once you find out, apply online and in-person at the Canadian embassy. Yes, you have to do both. Not sure where the nearest embassy is? Find it here on the GoAbroad embassy directory.
Safety. Better safe than sorry, gappers. Overall, Canada is a really safe country and the people are just lovely. But that shouldn’t take away from your street smarts. There’s no need to stay inside all day or not tour alone, but you should be going out in groups during the evening hours. Make sure you’ll telling people where you’re going before you head out and you’ll be good!
GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop
Words from the wise is always good to take in before you hop on that airplane to that BIG adventure. Here are a couple tips from GoAbroad:
Looking to get some cool souvenirs to bring back for your friends, family, and of course, your dog? You don’t want to leave anyone out, but remember, there’s only so much room in your backpack. Try to avoid trinkets or oversized sweatshirts that you’ll only wear once. Go to a really cool boutique or small business and buy cool clothes and winter gear there. Or hit up a souvenir shop and buy a flag patch. You can sew it on your backpack and everyone can track where you’ve been as you travel.
In reference to backpacks, how much luggage should you bring? The less you bring, the better. Get a giant over the shoulder bag, and load up all your all your belongings. If you want, bring a carry on that can serve as a beach or touring bag. Try to avoid the suitcases with the wheels. Trust me, the last thing you need to worry about is a broken wheel. Plus, if you go camping in Canada, it will be much easier with a backpack.
Ay gappers, it’s time to embark on your journey to the northern land of hockey and maple leaves, Canada. Pack up your ice skates, skis, snowboards, or whatever it is you love and hit the open road. Can you hear the mountains calling your name? Ready, get set, and go on your gap year in Canada!
Keep reading! Taking a Gap Year: There’s Nothing to be Afraid of