First working experience abroad could become your step forward to your dreams…
Many of You may know about Work&Travel USA program which offers students to earn their first money abroad and to travel. This is a good chance to grow up, develop your skills in communication and go overseas. While being a student I used this opportunity twice – in 2008 and in 2010.
When I was 19 years, I was graduated from 3rd year of study and my friends decided to do something crazy and go to the US for the whole summer. They invited me to join them, but I didn`t take it seriously and no one believed that I could go so far away from home for three months. I was surprised also with my decision but the summer 2008 I spent with my friends in the USA, working as a lifeguard in the largest water park of America.
Yes, you have to pay for the program, and it`s not cheap, but if you will work hard you will get your money back, earn more and will get precious experience of living abroad. There is a good training before coming into a grown up life.
What give the program for me are self-development; opportunity to earn money; open new skills; inspiration and love to travel. I have met many of interesting people from different countries, practiced my English and spent unforgettable summer.
Work. We went to Wisconsin Dells, the State of Wisconsin. In 2008 I have earned double of the price I`ve spent on the program. I could offer myself to buy everything I wanted, to travel and to keep some money to take it home. Thanks to my job I bought my first DSLR camera and started practicing my skills as a photographer. My job was not easy but it was interesting and offered us a lot of opportunities. I was a lifeguard in the waterpark on the shallow water and my responsibilities were to watch the water, help customers and be cool as a lifeguard. Once I saved a woman who had a shock after her ride from the waterslide. The waterpark is situated under the open sky so sometimes it was extremely hot to stay on the sun, and sometimes, especially after the rain or tornado it was so freezing… (Yes, we experienced tornado)) Our employee offered us a lot of amusements, discounts and bonuses.
The good thing in the USA about work is that they have overtime payment. Employees supposed to work 40 hours per week and if you were working overtime you will earn twice a price for those hours. In our waterpark we`ve got a lot of overtime work and this was awesome!
One of the swimming pools in our water park
Household.We lived in a big 2 storied house surrounded by forest and as a visitors we often had squirrels, and raccoon. We cooked food, went shopping, clubbing, paid our expenses, etc, so we lived an exciting adults life, which was a new experience for teenage girls from Ukraine.
Travel. We didn’t have much time to travel after work this time, but we spent a great time in Chicago, Illinois, before our flight back home. I liked this city; actually it was the first city of America which welcomed us from the board. More about our travel you could check in the ravel category of the blog: Chicago, Wisconsin Dells.
Even if being a working student abroad was quite unusual and sometimes difficult, I have learned a lot from this experience and I felt the freedom of choice while earning my own money, buying things I want and not asking my parents for the pocket money to come up with my needs.
So in 2 years together with my friend we decided to repeat our experience and went to the USA again. Summer 2010 we spent in Angola. You might be surprised but America has its own Angola in New York State, where our working place was situated.
Work. This time I was working in the worst place ever… There was an oasis place on the highway to the Niagara Falls where all the hungry tourists stopped to have some food… Can you imagine 200 of hungry people coming to McDonalds at the same time???
After the big economic crisis in 2008, I can`t say that we have earned a good money… Our employers didn`t allow us to work overtime and we didn`t earn our money back which we have spent on the participation in the Work & Travel program.
Housing.This time we were living in typically American motel from the movies where long distance drivers stop. It was placed on the highway and the nearest supermarket was situated in 30 minutes of walk from our house. Not the best place and the high price for this housing were not improved by our living conditions.
Travel. The good thing about 2010 USA experience was our travel after the work. By the way we were living just one hour of ride from Niagara Falls, which we have visited many times. Also we went to explore Canada, since the Niagara Falls is the border between those two countries.
This time we have planned quite interesting adventure and visited many of places spending no more than 200 $. Our destinations were: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania State; New London, Connecticut State; Washington, Washington DC; Fisher Island, NY State, and of course New York.
So in 2010 we didn`t earn that much money, but we have earned unforgettable memories and experience of exploration the Eastern coast of the USA.
In conclusion, what were the pluses and minuses of this experience?
1) I became more flexible, raised communication skills, practiced English;
2) Earned my first money in US dollars J
3) Get new friends;
4) Get addiction to travelling;
5) Bought a lot of useful things with huge discounts, and renovate my checkroom for several years forward;
6) Having so much fun and parties like nowhere.
1) Yes, sometimes it was really difficult to work full-time;
2) If you will get sick, it`s hard to find medicine, cos you don`t know the US medicine and you need to have a prescription to buy it. (To visit a doctor in the US is quite expensive, even if you have an insurance, it will cover the expenses, but may be not the whole amount);
3) From the very beginning you are gonna missing home;
4) After the end of the program you might not want to leave the country;
5) It is true, that the program is quite costly.
Even if there are pros and corns of this program, this experience is worth trying and I advise to every student I know to try this at least once.