From Alaska on the west coast, we are going down to the so-called “lower 48” (the way Alaskans refer to the rest of the states) to the east coast, with Ventzislav Shabansky, whose unpredictable experience on Work and Travel will certainly stun you all.
Ventzi is now an Alumni, who graduated from AUBG last year. For his 5 years at the university, he took the opportunity to go and work abroad as a participant in the work and travel program twice. His first trip was in 2009, after his freshman year, when he went to North Dakota. However, Ventzi did not choose to elaborate more on this first time of his, but decided that his second one in the US is far more entertaining and can give the readers a flavor of what is like to be in the not so sugar-coated US, which we see in movies.
Shabansky’s reasons to go on the program do not differ by a lot from what other people had stated. Even though his two main reasons were the usual ones- money and experience, he puts experience in the first place. That was his driving force. Moreover, since he loves travelling, that was “more or less a natural choice” for him, one he does not regret.
When Ventzi started describing his first moments in the US, he laughed and drew this beautiful picture of Denver at 7 o’clock in the morning, with the sky being clear and bright… So far so good, but… he had no clue where he was, he “was totally lost”.
For his first time in the US, Ventzi chose the city of Medora, North Dakota. Apart from this town, he had the chance to visit the capital city of North Dakota– Bismarck. In Medora, Ventzi was working as a caretaker for a cafeteria, but his job duties did not end there. Basically, he “had to do more or less everything.” However, he did not find his stay in Medora intriguing enough for a whole story to be dedicated to it so he did not illustrate any more details about it.
In 2011, Ventzi changed his destination to New York– The Big Apple. He was working in Up-State New York, more precisely- Lake George as a part-timer in the fast food chain McDonald’s and in a bar, as a bar-back. Ventzi had a hard-time figuring out what was the most unforgettable experience: “I gotta say, the whole experience of going twice..They were both memorable to begin with.” He had a lot of occasions in mind that he could talk about: “It will take like a few hours for me to share all of those.” However, he, in the end, decided to share a very unusual story about a very usual thing that can happen to a person in the city that never sleeps.
Ventzi was 20 of age when this happened to him. He, as typical Bulgarian, got drunk even though it was forbidden as he was not 21 (which is, by the way, the drinking age in most of the states, so, dear readers, be careful). He was “drinking happily, sloshing vodka around.” At 3-4 in the morning, our fellow friend decided to go back to his dormitory…on his bike…when a “helpful policeman” picked him up, put a pair of handcuffs on his hands, threw him on the back seat and informed him that he was going to jail. At first, Ventzi reacted in a calm way, saying “ok”, perhaps because he had not realized what was going on yet. However, his drunkenness got in charge eventually and he started “harassing” the guy, cursing him,“yadi, yadi, yadi, ya…” He finally shut up and just sat down quietly when the policeman warned him :“Vincent, shut up or it is gonna get worse.”
Ventzi sees jail as a “pretty interesting” place; however, he decided not to shed too much light on the “glory details.” He basically cracked the image of how Hollywood movies represent jails: “it is not as brutal.” There are several procedures that one should go through, of course, which nobody would like to experience. Going on with his story, Ventzi tried not to go in depth about what do prisoners like to carry IN themselves when going to jail. The way he put things was really fascinating, his word selection and synonyms were spectacular:
“In jail I learned that criminals like to put certain containers up in their…container and the only way to understand that you have your container is by spreading your….container and cough. That was…eye-opening.”
Since the whole story was kind of vague, he then decided to amplify just a little bit what he meant and concluded that he was actually talking about how prisoners hide drugs…and where.
His experience in prison lasted for 19 hours after which a former friend of his got him out. Despite the not so enjoyable procedures he had to go through, Ventzi in fact met cool people there. He made it clear that it was not an actual prison situation, where people go for committing heavy crimes, but where one could end up for not paying taxes, or in his case- for being underage and wandering the streets drunk. 30 days later, he had to go to court. Putting all the costs together, Ventzi estimated that the whole thing cost him $400, but….
“to this day I think these were the best $400 I could ever spend on myself because that was a….heck of an experience.”
He does not regret anything because according to him that is not something you can experience every day. Some of us might think “And thank God”, but for the adventurer Ventzi, it is something he would “never ever ever” repent as it was “something completely new.”
When asked if the attitude of his colleagues or employers changed towards him, Ventzi, surprisingly said that people were actually really tolerant to his mistake and he continued working at the same position. In other words, those $400 were the only thing he lost after his experience in jail.
Despite the happy ending, Ventzi’s opinion on whether or not his expectations met the reality, remained neutral. He arrived in America with the grand idea of the “shiny US, with Coca Cola and all of that” but “most of it was pretty rigorous.” One thing he found really nice about the states was that people were not treating him as he was not an American, as he was not one of them. Even on the contrary, they were receptive and had to courtesy to address him properly. In the end, Ventzi’s conclusion on his whole experience was that:
“my expectations were not what I saw, but I was not disappointed by what I saw, either.”
His tip for people who have not yet gone to the US is:
“Go to the US, whatever you experience there is going to be beneficial for you.”