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My second trip far away from Quebec : France-Italy

Travel Forums Europe My second trip far away from Quebec : France-Italy

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1. Posted by ABHPage (Budding Member 6 posts) 8y

Hello everybody,

I’m new to this forum, however I’ve done some reading before coming across this website. Also, I am not completely new to traveling. I live in the province of Quebec and last year, I drove 4000 km away to the west coast and stopped in Edmonton, Alberta, where I lived on the backseat of my car (a 1973 chevy impala) during the Canadian winter with no heating, all the while working there 12 hours a day on construction. Although in many ways it wasn’t particularly a pleasant trip, I did learn a lot of things from this first experience. To make a long story short, finally my motor exploded, and after a few weeks I was lucky enough to get a ride back to my original province of living.

Now, one year later, I find myself wanting to explore again, except this time I’ve learned an important lesson : do NOT entangle yourself with too much material possessions i.e. don’t carry a car around, especially when it’s over 30 years old ;) , but also, I now know I will need to minimize my belongings.

My new idea is now to go oversea. I’m just starting to get my thoughts together as to exactly what I want to do. Right now, I’m bilingual, speaking French as a mother tongue and English as a second one. Back in high school I did get a base of Spanish, but I forgot most of it. Since my dad is currently learning this language, I will practice with him to refresh some memories, so one could say that by 3-4 month I’ll be able to speak a little and understand most of it. So basically it won’t be too bad going to Europe speaking fluent French and English and then some base of Spanish.

On my next trip, I’m planning on first, taking a plane ticket to go to Paris with my father. No problems there since France obviously speaks French, and I’m not planning to stay in France more than 3 months, so I guess a schengen visa would do the trick. BUT, although I might want to stay in France for a while, I do know that after I will be heading for Lyon, with the goal of crossing the borders and reaching Italy. The purpose of my trip would be to go to Italy, where I want to learn Italian. I’ve started reading some basic lessons of Italian to get around once there, but when I get out I’d like to be fluent when speaking it.

Now, I have no idea how things will go. I mean, I’ll buy a plane ticket from Montreal to Paris, with no date of return. I might stay in Europe a mere 2 months, or who knows, maybe I’ll start loving it and want to extend my staying.
Now, what I would like to know that comes to my mind right now is the following :

1: I don’t have all that much money, and obviously will need a job to sustain me if I want to stay in Italy long enough to learn the language. Is it possible to get a job (any kind, as long as it enables me to buy food and basic supplies, even if I have to camp) once I’m in that country ?

2: If so, if I’m staying less than 90 days, is the schengen visa enough, or do I need another visa to be allowed work ?

3: Let’s say I get a girlfriend with the looks of Monica Belluci and kind of like find myself wanting to stay there a little longer, let’s say 6 months (I do not want to change nationality though nor live there permanently), what kind of visa do I need ?

4: What about insurances ? How does that work ? If I get into an accident or something, will my country pay for it or do I have to have other insurance ? (Currently I have the Canadian insurance card that everybody has here).

5: Are there special vaccinations that I will be forced to undergo to travel from Canada to France and Italy ? (I DO have a thing against vaccines).

Since I don’t really have a plan (I just want to go out the airport in Paris, go see the first nice people I find, ask them what’s up for tonight and then starting to make contacts and just living an adventure, until I begin my journey to Italy), is there a visa that would allow me to stay longer than 90 days in the schengen countries ? Or I’d be forced to apply for a working rensidency visa in Italy firsthand ? It’d be a shame not to pass by France before heading for Italy…

Sorry for the long post, but I like to be clear. I might have more questions soon, as well. Thanks in advance for those who can answer me.

Edit : added some questions that came to mind !

[ Edit: Edited on May 14, 2008, at 8:50 PM by ABHPage ]

2. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 8y

As a Canadian citizen you need a work permit in order to work in Europe, regardless of the length of your stay. For this you need to look for a job while you are still in Canada, secure a job offer and pass the priority examination (EU and EFTA citizens and EU residents have priority, you only get the job and the work permit if there is nobody else suitable for the job). It is a bloody hassle and very hard to arrange.

Your only decent chance of working to finance your trip in Europe is a WHV.

For this you need to apply in advance at the embassy in Canada.

You also need to apply in advance for a residency permit if you want to stay for longer than 90 days inside the Schengen area. (The only countries that are the exeption to this rule are Germany and the Netherlands, Canadians and a handful of other nationalities can apply while they are already in the country.)

This prevents any spontaneous decisions about wanting to stay longer. Sorry to bust your plans.

An alternative to working for pay can be volunteering at a farm, see WWOOF. It is a legal grey area though, since you are not insured as a regular employee should be.

It is illegal to enter the Schengen area without health insurance. I strongly recommend buying coverage before you leave. If you do WWOOF, make sure the insurance covers this. I also strongly recommend buying a return flight ticket.

No vaccinations are necessary, but make sure all the standard jabs (Polio, Tetanus, etc) that you get in Canada too are current.

I think you might want to investigate ways to travel around Europe on the cheap. Go in spring/summer/autumn, take a tent and camping gear, use couchsurfing and other hospitality sites, hitchhike or get around driving an old car (ha, ha) and sleep in the back. Still you'll be surprised and shocked at the cost of all this. I do not recommend travelling to Europe for longer than 3 months if you have less than 8000 CAD saved up in your bank account.

[ Edit: Edited on May 14, 2008, at 11:54 PM by t_maia ]

3. Posted by ABHPage (Budding Member 6 posts) 8y

Thanks for the specifications. Well, actually when I go to Europe I'll probably have 1000 $ or less in pockets. One of my friend came back a few months ago from his trip. He went there with around 200 $ in pockets, and hitchhiked from Paris to Athens. He got what we call a job on the black market, like something paid cash. He told me there are jobs in fruit picking or farms, and that I could make friends or just ask around and eventually I'd find something. Like here, in quebec, there are lots of jobs paid ''under the table''.

About the WHV, I though these were only for Australia ? Do WHV for Europe last as long as the ones for Australia ?

And one last thing, how would it be possible for me to find a job in Italy before even going there ??

Thanks for the link, I will go check it after breakfast.
Thanks for answering so quickly !

4. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 8y

1000 CAD? That is just enough for 4 weeks if you stay in one place, rent a room in a shared flat, don't go out and eat nothing but spaghetti with tomato sauce the whole time. If you do the "normal" thing with staying in hostels and eating food from the supermarket it will just be enough for 12 days. That is a very low budget. And if you wanted to buy any sort of vehicle at all, all your money down to the last cent would need to go into the car or motorscooter.

As for working on the black market... I don't recommend it at all. I highly doubt you want to add prison from the inside to one of your potential sights to visit. If you get caught you are bound to be deported and get a permanent ban on entering. Might not seem important now, but with your language skills you might want to end up building a career in Europe. And then you couldn't - wouldn't that be a bummer?

I think your best option is to try for a WHV to France in combination with WWOOF'ing in Italy. Fly into Italy, volunteer on a farm for 3 months, go to France on your WHV work there the allowed time and when you are supposed to be travelling in France go back to Italy and volunteer again. Total time: 1 year and 3 months with this method. If you go to France first it will be 1 year only.

With your budget you cannot apply for a residency permit in Italy, they would never give it too you. They would know that with the amount you have you need to work to support yourself.

how would it be possible for me to find a job in Italy before even going there ??

That is just the thing. The only people who are able to do that are the kind of people the Italians want to come. Actors, fashion models, designers, engineers, managers, computer specialists, etc.

5. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 8y

About the WHV to France:

And financial requirements to get this visa:

Return flight ticket, or proof of sufficient financial means to purchase it before
your departure (minimum of CAD $1,000 or CAD $1,500 for the Vancouver
district). Proof of sufficient financial means (at least 3,000 dollars) such as:
- Letter from your bank
-A declaration signed under oath by a parent attesting that they will provide you
with 3,000 dollars, accompanied by a bank statement under their name.

So I think you'll need to save up a little bit more before you go.

6. Posted by spongehead (Full Member 119 posts) 8y

Quoting ABHPage

So basically it won’t be too bad going to Europe speaking fluent French

Bonjour ABHPage,

From what I understand, Canadians speak a different 'breed' of French from what is spoken in France itself. I am a subscriber to a French channel in my country on cable TV and when Canadian sitcoms come on air, I have a difficult time figuring out what's going on (and fortunately there were subtitles in proper French at the bottom!).

And I've read somewhere that the lexicology and even pronounciation of certain words differ greatly between both places. While watching Canadian sitcoms, I realised that the word 'enfant' (child) is pronounced 'ON-FANG' instead of 'ON-FON'. It sounded more like English!

La francaise canadienne est trop difficile pour moi

7. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 8y

off-topic: Germans have the same problem with Swiss dialects. When Swiss shows come on German channels it is almost always with subtitles.

8. Posted by spongehead (Full Member 119 posts) 8y

Quoting t_maia

off-topic: Germans have the same problem with Swiss dialects. When Swiss shows come on German channels it is almost always with subtitles.

Yes t_maia, you're right. I understand that the Swiss and Austrians speak 'Low German' when conversing on a casual level and they will never use 'High German' because it may distance them from their interlocutor. Interesting!

Edited for typo in 'interlocutor'

[ Edit: Edited on May 15, 2008, at 8:59 PM by spongehead ]

9. Posted by ABHPage (Budding Member 6 posts) 8y

Spongehead : Well yeah, Canada's French is different from France's, but not to the point of not understanding each other. We do have a few people in my city that come from France, and even though sometimes they have these ''weird'' expressions, the words stay the same, it's just the pronounciation that is different.

t_maia : I've read about the WHV, and that is just the problem, needing 3 to 4 thousand dollars. I am nowhere near to having that amount of money. My current job that I've had for 3 years is coming to an end now, and of the tens of thousands of dollars I've made, well I must say I've spent it all in vintage cars, monsters trucks, and japanese cars, most of which I've broken, one that was lost in Alberta, without counting all the maintenance and gasoline required to run these machines. This winter I lost all my investment when I got into an accident with a modified car that was registered as regular, so I had to hide it until I found another one to swap the mechanics, which cost me again some thousand of dollars. Right now I'm still at minus 1500 $, and I need to do something to change my life. I need to get out of my dad's basement. I want to see the world now, I'm 22, I don't want to wait until I'm 25 still living in crappy jobs and learning nothing. I'd rather have crappy jobs in Europe.

I'm starting to think I could just get the 90 days visa, and then after go in Egypt or Ireland for a while. 1 000 $ doesn't seem that bad to me. First, I'm not planning to stay in any hostels or anything like that. I'd camp or be a hobo, whatever, until I can find a farm or some random job that provides shelter ? I surely won't pay more money a day to sleep than to eat. Transportation ? I have two feet, or I'll hitchhike or buy a bike. I'm really in shape, being that I workout 4-9 times a week since the age of 13 ! As for food, one can go a long time with a 10 pounder bag of basmati rice, some cheese, a shaker and protein powder, and some fruits now and then. I'm not looking at some easy life over there... I've been doing just that here for all my life, with my eyes glowing in front of the fridge every day. I seek out the wolf life for a few months, maybe to make me realize how lucky I was back home, or else to find out how life can be harder and yet... more exciting. All I know is that regular life is more and more boring, and drinking booze doesn't do the trick for me to have fun. I need something bigger.

Of course, you're right on the fact that I don't want to visit jail from the inside, nor do I want to be banned from Europe. The 90 days could be enough to give me an idea of how much I like the place, and then I could go somewhere else until I can go again. But sure thing is, I'll need to work somehow to sustain myself, and I am not staying here another full year boring my wits out in my hometown. I mean, are the cops really all over the place trying to find janitors working under the table ? Here in Canada, I haven't had a legal job for three years... and never saw the glimpse of any problem about it.

About the WWOOF's, from what I have read, these are some kind of organic volunteering farm where they don't pay you, but provide shelter and food, or am I mistaken ? Also you said :

I think your best option is to try for a WHV to France in combination with WWOOF'ing in Italy. Fly into Italy, volunteer on a farm for 3 months, go to France on your WHV work there the allowed time and when you are supposed to be travelling in France go back to Italy and volunteer again. Total time: 1 year and 3 months with this method. If you go to France first it will be 1 year only.

You see, that would be an excellent way to do it. Unfortunately, unless something magical happens, I will most likely not find 4500 $ anytime soon (1500 debts to pay, and then needing 3000$, without counting the flights), unless of course, I go do some dirty dancing in Montreal, which people have told me to do but hey... I'm not really a ''dancing'' kind of guy. But right now I'm actively searching for another job that would pay more and give me more hours. If I can manage to get that money let's say before october or november, I might consider waiting longer and be on the safe side for legal stuff... but I don't think I'd be willing to wait until next summer 2009. Because when my trip is done, I still have to get a life here, some job or go back to school (which is also expensive). Its seems everything in life is so expensive, or complicated... soo, let's say I get to have roughly 1000, 1500 $ left when flights paid, NOT living in hostels nor eating in restaurants, moneywise it would be feasable living for 90 days. Are the laws for working visa as strict in UK or Ireland ? Maybe I could go there for a while and make some cash if it's easier than in the schengen countries ? But from other websites ( although not as informed as this one), I've talked to lots of people who got around teaching english, or working in bars or promotion and stuff. One of my personal friends was a beggar in Athens for 2 months last year... but I wouldn't do that.

Again thanks for taking the time to give advice, even if I might sound like a dreamer, which of course I am. But at least, I'm hard headed. Everybody told me I would never make it to Alberta in a 35 year old car, and then they also told me after 2 days out in the winter I'd finally rent an apartment, and I somehow got there anyway (even if with a blown up motor half-alive), and lived through two month of winter sometimes going 4-5 days straight without having any source of heating whatsoever, and here I still am in one piece, even though the car never made it back with me. . That's my only regret. I loved that ride so much. It held so many memories.

10. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 8y

Well, with touring on a bicycle and having a tent and camping gear, I think you could plan on needing around 25 CAD per day. With 90 days that would still sum up to 2250 CAD. :-(

Could you fly over with a roadworthy bike? Or do you need to buy one? What about panniers? If you buy a new touring bike here in Europe, you are looking at around 500 EUR. A set of front and rear panniers goes for around 120-180 EUR. Then there is tent, sleeping bag, etc. Do you have that already?

Or if you are more into hiking, you could take one of the old pilgrimage trails, like the St James Way or one of the trails across the Alps to Rome. Make this a spiritual way of healing, you know?

And yes, with WWOOF you work for food and shelter. It is the cheapest way for you to spent time in Italy. Plus it is legal work.

I don't know how the laws about WHV are in other countries, but essentially the rules are set up in such a way that you need enough savings so that you could survive for a few months without a job.

BTW, couldn't you pretty please ask your dad to provide you with the letter for the embassy saying that he'll give you the 3000 CAD (if he has them)?

A declaration signed under oath by a parent attesting that they will provide you with 3,000 dollars, accompanied by a bank statement under their name.

You could privately agree that you would only take the money you have. Point is that this declaration would get you the visa. Or have you "built shit" (as the German expression goes) too many times for dad to do so?