If you are a student and you are still wondering what to do next summer, the work and travel program is what you’re looking for. One of the most popular programs of international cultural exchange, the Work and Travel program provides an opportunity for students to go to USA during the summer vacation. You go to USA on a so called J1 visa, which allows you to work so that you can earn some money and travel for up to a month before returning home. It might also help the term of “job” become friendlier – most of the students don’t have any experience when they are applying for this program. .
How did I end up in this program? Being “forced” by everybody: “you ought to try it!” , it’s the most awesome experience” , “best summer ever”, “best program”, “a great opportunity to see America”. When I was in my first year in college 25% of my colleagues tried it. By the following year, the percentage doubled.
It took me a while to decide, I mean I knew about this opportunity for almost two years but I just wasn’t sure if I had the guts to do it. That was until one day. It was near Christmas when I met an old friend. She had already applied for the program and was so excited about it that she asked me to join her as well. “Yes, definitely, yes“, I replied, surprising myself with the answer. It was such a spontaneous decision. I didn’t think about it, not even for on one minute.
The registrations opened in October and everybody was hunting for the “best places” so I wasn’t left with many choices. In the end I decided to go alone in Wisconsin Dells.
It might sound scary, and believe me, it was. The trip to USA seemed to me like an adventure on itself. I had never travelled by airplane before and I was horrified by the idea. I first took a plane to Holland, where I had had a plane change. Yet the two hours flight did not emotionally prepare me for the seven hours flight over the ocean I took to get to USA.
Once I got there, after just two days I started working at IHop, “International House of Pancakes”. I had some experience as a waitress, so I got to work there as a server, which sounded good, it’s considered the best job among students as it allows you to make the most money (and the more money you make, the more you can travel). Sounds great, right? Well, not so much in my case . As a server the minimum wage is not very high as you are supposed to earn a lot from tips, so I was getting about 3.33 $/hour. The problem was that the manager would always schedule me in the evenings, and it was a pancakes place, so it is needless to say I didn’t get many costumers.
Of course it is allowed to have as many jobs as you want, provided that your visa sponsor accepts them. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. You have to go door-to-door, talking to managers and go back in the next few days if they had no positions for the time being. For me it was more difficult since my shift started at 3:00 pm and nobody wanted to hire me for five hours. I was thinking about quitting the job but that was as well tricky. My job as a server was my so-called “primary job” – the job that my J1 visa was relying on. Without a good enough reason for quitting, my visa sponsor could have terminated my program and sent me home.
After one month of being unsure, weak and even crying I was fired. Yes fireeed! Apparently, the reason for being fired was: ”She was unhappy”. I was so unhappy that, the day before, I went outside with a colleague to sing “Vivo per lei” and everybody from the restaurant except one hostess came to see us. By then I was already working at Jimmy John’s, but my visa sponsor didn’t want to recognize it as my primary job. So I started working at McDonalds which they agreed to. I also got jobs as a seller in both a t-shirt and a souvenir shop.
Sum them up and you obtain four jobs. The answer is correct! I did have four jobs simultaneously for a period of more than a month. There were three weeks in which I slept for no more than two or three hours a night. You must be assuming by now that I was aiming at getting rich with that. Oh, how far was I from that. I had to pay for rent and food which wasn’t exactly cheap. Not to mention that the program itself cost around 3000 $. That’s nothing, right? J) But I had reasons to struggle: I wanted to travel and get myself a new photo camera as well.
It wasn’t so bad because I always felt I had the support from the organization I went there through: American Experience http://www.americanexperience.ro/. They were connected to an organization in the states: All Friends which were helping out students and organizing trips around USA. They also had an office in Wisconsin which was great. It is extremely important to choose an organization which is reliable so if you’re thinking about joining the program, be careful about that.
PS: I went with them in Chicago. It was amazing!
And now, about my actual time there. I met lots of nice people. I had crazy colleagues and kind roommates.
Of course, we went to a karaoke night!
I made new friends and I had so much fun with them! I spent an awesome weekend in Chicago. We went there to see Linkin Park and Thirty seconds to Mars. How cool can that be? 😀
To the end of the summer, I was having lots of free time so I checked out every aqua park, and Wisconsin Dells has many. It really is a great destination for aqua park lovers. Fun fact: Noah’s Ark Waterpark it is not just the best one in Wisconsin Dells but number seventeen in the world. @https://www.google.ro/#q=noah%27s+ark+aqua+park
PS: The vidio is from Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park
Wisconsin Dells said goodbye to me with an amazing sunrise. This is what I woke up to on my last day there: