Work and Travel is a program which is of great interest for many university students as it is a great way to make some money and experience new culture, explore new places, meet new people, broaden your perspective. Since this year was the first year I spend in the US as a work and travel participant and I was really frustrated in the beginning, I decided to help other people that are about to try out this thrill by providing as much information as possible. The first person who decided to share his experience abroad is Georgi Dobrev, a freshman from Sofia, studying at the American University in Bulgaria.
For Georgi this was the first time in the US, too. What was he aiming at in beginning was what most of us aim at and that is money. He was expecting to make a lot of money and to work and work and work and that is it. But even before he went to America, his purpose changed and he thought that the most important thing he would gain from his travel is experience. Despite the fact that he was feeling anxious at first because he had to go completely alone, to a completely different place and meet a completely different culture, he then found his place and made his experience abroad a really great one.
As a destination Georgi chose Juneau– the capital of Alaska, where he worked as a lot associate for the famous chain of hardware stores, called The Home Depot. He wanted to find a job of good quality and he assessed The Home Depot as a company that would satisfy his needs. His job as a lot associate required him to help customers out with loading their purchases. However, after some time he got promoted to a sales associate and was working in the paint department. When questioned if he enjoyed his job he admitted that there was some pressure at first because of the lack of experience, but in the end he found his job really amusing as he was able to directly interact with customers. The thing he sees as mostly beneficial for him was that he not only improved his English, but he learned how to approach people and how to better communicate with them. Above all, Dobrev really liked the people he was working with and was getting along with them pretty well. In the interview, he even refers to them as “friends”.
As we continued with the questions, I finally got to ask him the one thing that I was really curious about, namely what he would refer to as the most memorable time he had while on Work and Travel. His tone of voice changed when he started explaining what was he doing when he had time for himself. He now sounded more excited as if he was still feeling the pleasure of his experience. “There are plenty of things to do there, it is just a matter of choice,” Dobrev said and what he was mainly doing was going hiking up the mountains with his friends. Another activity he found “amazing” was whale watching. Georgi also went to a hatchery where salmon was grown and he was intrigued to see how people were interacting with animals.
While being interviewed, Georgi Dobrev got more and more passionate about his time in the US. It seemed like he was in love with America. That is why when asked about whether or not he would consider going back there, it was pretty evident what his answer would be judging by how his facial expression would change when he was reminiscing about the 4 months he spend in America. As an answer to the question, Georgi said that he has already made his mind about going back to the States in the future, and that there is a big chance he would choose Alaska again, but probably a different city. He firmly believes that
“Alaska and America in general is one of the best places to go and live, not just work, but live because that is the thing you are going to get the most of. It’s not about the work, it is not about the money, it is not about you getting there and getting over these 4 months. It is about you living and experiencing and getting the most you are supposed to get from there. That is the thing with Alaska and America…”
This was only Georgi’s first time in the States, and yet again he is still referring to it as a “mind-blowing experience”. What struck him the most was how different people were in terms of culture and mentality and how differently they approached their everyday problems.
Looking back at his Work and Travel experience, Georgi strongly emphasized on two things that served him well – “do not be afraid” and “explore everything and anything”. Since he followed his own advice, the reality he faced not only met his expectations, but even exceeded them.