Away. Scary. Unknown. Mysterious. Different. Away. Challenging. Enlightening. Joyful. Beneficial. Diversifying. Uplifting. Mind-blowing…..Away.
Away from home. Away from parents. Away from friends. Away from what we are used to. Away from problems. Away from drama. Away from yourselves. Away from your hearts. Away from our hearts.
Home is where the heart is.
This quote is so famous, such a cliché and in the meantime- so true. Home is safe. Home is nice. Home is where you are accepted no matter what. Home is always there.
Gaining experience, living your life to the maximum means stepping out of your comfort zone. Stepping out the doorstep of your house and stepping in real life. Life with all its ups and downs.
One way to do this during your university time is going abroad, more precisely- on the Work and Travel program. This program not only gives you the chance to travel around the world, but also to make some money to go back home with.
I decided to dedicate my blog to this subject because this summer, the summer of 2014, was my first time as a J1 student in America. The very first moment of my 3 and half-month stay in the US that I remember vividly was when I was about to have a nervous breakdown in front of a stranger. I was feeling so scared, frustrated and lost, like never before. I wish I had asked more people about what to expect, but my stubbornness is my driving force and sometimes I can end up hitting my head against one and the same wall. The purpose of my blog is people, that have not yet experienced the fear of the unknown in the states, get an insight of what it is all about. That is why, every week and I am going on witch hunting, armed with my XI century camera and timeless questions, trying to find people who have interesting stories and valuable advice to share with me. One thing all of my interviewees agree on is that you might not get anything from WAT, but you would gain experience for sure…big time.
The first person the Inquisition (that’s me, I assume..) claimed as target for the witch hunting, was a freshman from Sofia, Bulgaria– Georgi Dobrev. His time in the US was a really beneficial one, both from the side of experience and the side of earning money. Georgi simply fell in love with Alaska and America in general. He is 100% positive about going there as many times as he can because according to him:
“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…”
Thus, Georgi is strongly recommending people to go and just explore everything and anything, do not be afraid.
My second victim did not have such a mind-blowing time like Georgi. He had “one heck of an experience” but that does not necessarily imply that it was a good one. Ventzislav Shabanski, an Alumni from Sofia again, showed, in a pretty ugly way, the mentality of a typical Bulgarian and got himself in jail for that. However, he was not disappointed, he does not regret anything because for him to this day:
I think these were the best $400 I could ever spend on myself .
So people, whatever you do- do not get drunk, especially if you are underage…or if you somehow manage to do so, do not try going back home at 3 am on a bike….Just do not.
I actually got another story related to Ventzi’s “drunk-and-ride” one but this time my source decided to stay behind the curtain and asked me not to reveal her identity. But I got my story…so I am good. Ms. A, the way I refer to the subject of my interview, did not get herself in jail, but got lucky with having to pay only a $250 ticket. The reason? Same thing, different day, different state. Ventzi got arrested in New York, Ms. A got arrested in Wisconsin for the exact same reason- underage drinking. She says that in summer 2014 she
drank the most expensive beer in her life, but every drop of it was worth it.
In regard to this, I somehow succeeded in finding an even shadier story, one from the really Dark Ages of history. To be honest, I was not expecting that the person I interviewed (who kindly asked me to stay anonymous, as well and no wonder…) would be actually so responsive and would not mind depicting this really colorful and vigorous picture of his time in the states. Mr. X was telling me the story of how he got detained for marijuana possession in such a detailed way as if it had happened a couple of days ago. I guess the whole experience left a really deep scar in his mind and that is why he was even mentioning dates. Exact dates. Amazing, right? And normal, as well. He had to go to court and pay a lot of money for court expenses and a lawyer, so he advises people:
Don’t get caught. Be cautious.
At a certain point, though, I felt that I am struggling with my posts and making people share their “dirty secrets” with me. And it was not only me struggling with it. You know, people were asking to stay anonymous, obviously they were not very eager to be exposed like that. I mean, they won’t get indulgences from me, I am not the Purgatory… so why bother? This is the reason I am really grateful to those who, out of good will or whatever floats their boat, decided to assist me by providing material for my blog. Thank you, people! However, as I finally realized that, I settled on finding people with positive stories, such they won’t be cautious about putting out there. Like Boyana Atanasova’s story….
Bobi, a freshman from Ruse, Bulgaria was the third person whom I made “confess” in front of me (does that make me the judge, or something?) She told me this inspiring story that would make even the most ruthless person sit down and think about it. Bobi did not only find friends in Alaska, but she found herself. Intentionally or not, does not really matter. The facts speak for themselves- those 4 months abroad changed her thoroughly. She achieved catharsis. From a “party animal” she turned into this responsible person, for whom others are wondering:“Where is Boyana and what have you, what has Alaska done with her?” She found home there, she found people who liked and appreciated her for who she was, not for who she was trying to be. That’s why Bobi says:
“It is worth it. You for sure have to experience this. It is gonna change you, especially if you do not feel good with yourself here in Bulgaria or wherever.
See, people, it is not that hard. You can find home anywhere in the world as long as you are willing to explore. Explore within yourself, explore without yourself, explore everything and anything. Surely, you are going to gain SOMETHING from this. Life is out there, waiting for you to grab it and live it….
PS: Sorry about all of the History and Political Science-related terminology… This is what happens when you have two midterms and you try to memorize everything…