Stepwest Stories – Luisa from Colombia & her working experience in Canada!
*Update! We recently caught up with Luisa who has been in Canada for over a year now. To hear an update on her time in Canada, read till the very end!*
We are bringing back Stepwest Stories for you to be inspired and motivated from our very own. This time, the participants themselves will be telling their Stepwest story. Be inspired by Luisa, from Colombia, who is currently in our College & Internship Hospitality Program in Vancouver. This program has given her the best opportunity to gain international professional work experience in her field of studies, Hospitality & Gastronomy, while embracing Canadian culture!
Since Colombia does not offer any agreements with International Experience Canada for participants to just work, like a Working Holiday experience, this doesn’t mean that you can not come to Canada and make the most out of your stay! Do you want to know how? Get to know more about Luisa and her story in Canada while studying and working in Vancouver!
Hi everyone, my name is Luisa! I’m 24 years old, and I am from Bogotá, Colombia. I studied Gastronomy & Culinary Arts in Colombia for 3 years and right after I spent 2 years of living in the United States. After that I decided that it was time to chase my dreams in Canada! ✈🇨🇦
When I started the process of searching for a program that would allow me to work in Canada, I felt so lucky to have found Stepwest and I’ll explain why. The people at Stepwest were very honest about my options and the entire process right from the beginning. They answered all of my repeated questions, and even went to the extent of answering questions from my dad just to reassure him of everything 😅. I felt like they did a great job putting me at ease since my previous experience with another agency left me confused with a lot of questions. Once I got to Canada, the Stepwest team was super helpful! They made sure I got a great homestay, as well as prepared all the important things you would need to have upon arrival in a new country (SIN Number, bank account, etc… ) and the most important thing, they helped me preparing for job interviews.
MY FAVOURITE ADVENTURE … SO FAR! 🇨🇦
After 2 months in Vancouver, I was already dying to go to the mountains! Let me tell you a story. As I was looking around Facebook groups for people interested in hiking, I came across a post from a Japanese girl named Rita, stating that she was looking for more people to go with her to Wedgemount Lake at Whistler. I texted her right away and she told me that the hike was pretty hard and that I should be ready for rough conditions.
The next morning, we met for the first time and she introduced her friends, Soline from London and a guy named Modestas from Lithuania. Once we started hiking I realized what Rita meant about the difficulty and rough conditions – this hike is one of the most exhausting in British Columbia. I clearly wasn’t ready for it but we were already there and I was just really excited about seeing a glacier for the first time. Rita and Modestas hiked really fast however, Soline and I just took our time. It was so hot and the flies were driving us crazy going up the mountain. We trailed for 4 hours until we finally encountered the famous scramble that everyone talks about! Halfway through it we were so tired, but the view was beautiful and all we could hear was the sound of water from the different waterfalls in the mountains. A lady climbing behind us said: “Keep going! you’re almost there, it’ll be worth it, trust me!” And so we pushed ourselves even more and finally after almost 5 hours we made it, and the view… it was just breathtaking, beautiful beyond words and absolutely incredible! 😍
If you’ve ever seen a National Geographic special about lakes in Canada, I can promise you that it’s even better in real life.
Going down the mountain is a whole other story, but if you ever ask if I would do it again, the answer to that would be, yes! However, the next time I do, it would be with a tent and warm clothes to spend the night, because once you’re up there you don’t ever want to leave.
MY WORK EXPERIENCE 👩🏻🍳
In this picture, I am with my friend Brooklyn at my work place in downtown Vancouver! When I first got to Vancouver, I was looking for a job and Stepwest helped me get set up with an interview and get ready for my first job interview! The placement coordinators at Stepwest secured my spot here by giving me a lot of interview preparation beforehand, to ensure that I would be ready for the interview. The interview went great and I landed this amazing job almost upon arrival to Canada! The Executive Chef even made time to talk to me about my expectations and experience, and just after 1 month of working as a Prep Cook hand by hand with the Executive Chef, he even gave me the opportunity to work in pastry since I mentioned my interest for it.
I’ve been working at this amazing award winning restaurant in Vancouver (one of BC’s best seafood restaurants that offers true West Coast dining) for almost 4 months now. It has been the best experience so far! The team feels like a big family as we usually have dinner together when we work late night shifts. Often times, the executive chef will teach us new skills, for example last month he gave us a class about oysters, explaining everything about them, where and how they are grown. He also likes to talk to each person in the kitchen, so him and his sous chefs always make sure we are feeling happy and motivated to do our job.
THE BEST THINGS ABOUT VANCOUVER ❤️
One of my favourite things about Vancouver is the outdoor life, the people here really embrace summer! I did outdoor yoga, went to all kinds of festivals and markets, and walked along the sea almost every day. I took this picture going to the outdoor movies by the beach, how cool is that? I was walking across the biggest park in Vancouver – Stanley Park, and there are animals that walk around hoping someone will feed them. This goose started walking around me as I was talking pictures of the other ones, he came really close so I pointed my phone to him and out of nowhere he pecked me and I was so shocked! I think he was really mad because I didn’t have any food, so I had to walk a little bit faster to the beach but at least I got a nice picture of his face!
Since we last spoke to Luisa, she is still having the best time in Canada! She works at the same restaurant, but now as a Pastry chef, mainly prepping desserts for the evening and doing weekend brunch. She has a lot of freedom to create her own dishes and even had some of her desserts featured on the menu!
In terms of future goals, Luisa sees herself living in Canada for a long time as she loves the nature and beauty of Canada. She hopes to travel and see more of British Columbia as well as Alberta in the future, but for now she’s happy working in her field of study! She still loves going on hikes, going to the beach, or eating good food when she has the time and is enjoying what Vancouver has to offer.
Are you interested in coming to Canada for a Study & Work or Working holiday? Luisa has some advice for you! Her best advice is to make sure you are organized with your time and money before moving to Canada so you can enjoy you experience more while you’re here. Also to be open minded and enjoy everything that Canada has to offer because there is so much to do and see!
Thanks for updating us Luisa, we’re glad you’re enjoying your time in Canada! Check out our Stories highlight on Instagram to see more of a day in the life of Luisa, working as a chef!
Disclaimer: This post was published in November 2017 and recently updated in August 2018.
So do you have plans to live in a different country, improve your english and get an Education Certification at the same time? Then you might be ready for your very own Canadian adventure! You can participate under the International Experience Canada programs such as Working Holidays or Student Internship. If you are not from one of the 33 IEC countries, you can still participate in our Business Essentials Program or College & Internship in Hospitality Management Program and take the opportunity to gain professional work experience through your whole stay in Canada! Get to know more about the program and the Stepwest Stories of other participants, like Martin from Czech Republic, Silvia from Mexico, Martin from Slovakia or Charlotte from Germany!
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