Tag Archive | USA

1 out of 10

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the waaaaay…oops

It is December already. Cannot believe how fast time flies. Are you in that typical Christmas mood, you know… you are dreaming of sitting by the fireplace, wearing your favorite socks, drinking hot coco….? Well, I sure am…But there are 20 days….20 more days until the time for Home Alone and all those cute Christmas movies comes.  By then, dear readers, I am going to be entertaining you with my weekly blog  posts. This week I will introduce you one of Santa’s favorite Snow Whites (yeah, Santa in my imagination has 7 Snow Whites, not 7 dwarfs….grow up! haha) – Anna Nikolova.

Ani is a friend of mine, sophomore at AUBG, majoring in Economics and Mathematics (for those who know me- what a surprise, I do have smart friends….) who is local- from Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. Ani was not really sure if she wanted to give me an interview because the subject of the questions was kind of…personal, but in the end… we had a really nice conversation. One of those during which you just sit, drink coffee and have a nice time talking about your amazing moments on WAT. Because, yes, Ani’s time in the US was incredible, with one-two exceptions of course.

Ani arrived in the states, more precisely- North Rim, Arizona- on the May, 12 and that is when her adventures began. She had everything set already- housing, work, even food and although she went there completely alone, she did not have such a hard time adjusting. For her Work and Travel she chose Usit Colors as that is what her friends had advised her to do and she was satisfied with the job they found her. Ani was working as a busser and basically she lived off the tips ($100 per shift… Jeez)  because you know…Americans have this AMAZING tradition of giving HUUUUGE TIPS (unlike in Bulgaria, where if you leave 10 stotinki you feel like you got robbed -.-.) However, it was not only the tips she was happy about…. Being a busser she did not just make a lot of money…she made herself believe that Americans ain’t that stupid after all…And all of this because she ….fell in love.

(In the meantime, I am listening to IT IS NOT ABOUT THE MONEY, MONEY, MONEY…had to share)

Her name- Anna, His name- Scott. If you ask Ani,the first thing she found attractive about him was that he had two Bachelor Degrees so..he was not one of those dumba** Americans, that just sit on the couch, eating chips and shouting at the TV. And that really impressed her. That (and probably his motorcycle) was what made her fall in love with him. Cute, right ?

I have always enjoyed writing about love stories because when you are asking that person questions, he or she gets excited even over the little things. You can SEE the spark in their eyes while talking about the person they love. And that is what makes love stories special. Not just the STORY, but how people INTERPET it and talk about it with their HEARTS. Ani is no exception. When I asked her “So you are really in love with that dude?” she just smiled at me and asked me back “Are you in love?” and it took one look for me to understand her.

I just realized something. Even though I am a future journalist, I do believe in privacy and the importance of not violating it. I really want to tell you everything about Ani’s story as it is really sweet and is not one of those that will give you diabetes, but it is a REAL one. It has its ups and downs, but that is the way it is supposed to be, right? But it is Ani’s love story, which she will probably tell her grandchildren, who are then going to tell it to their grandchildren and so on…you know how that works. It is something special for her… However, since I am good person and I know how curious you already are…I am going to reveal A LITTLE BIT of what she told me, just so that you do not “starve.” Deal?

Ani and Scott had a really nice summer. They did not waste even a second of it (unlike me…oh wait…I am not allowed to talk about this, not yet.) They did all sorts of crazy things together, but the most memorable one was their regular hikes in the Grand Canyon. They went on a trip to Las Vegas, Utah, South Rim …so you can say that she also saw SOME of the other states besides Arizona.  The two lived together, worked together, did everything together. And did not get fed up with this routine, can you imagine? I don’t know how you’ll call it, but for me this is genuine PASSION. So wonderful…

What’s more… they are making plans for their future together. Where to go, what to do…plans that couples usually make. He is even going to come in 20 days, all the way from Arizona to Bulgaria… a country he probably had never heard about before he met Ani. Because of love. Sorry, I got carried away, got too romantic all of a sudden. I really like that kind of optimism that is not just delusional, but that is TRUE and GENUINE, no hidden agenda, no nothing…. pure optimism. And I believe that they will manage to make things work despite the distance and  other obstacles…:) But wait…how could I know? It is not like I have any experience in this whatsoever *cough*cough*

That’s how much I am willing to share with you about Ani’s love story. But I promise I have another interesting story. *wink*wink*

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you beat someone’s a**  at work? Let’s assume the answer is yes… well, my dear friend Ani tried her luck and showed her violent, barbaric Bulgarian side hahaha. She did not stop laughing while telling me what actually happened because now when she thinks about it… she could have got not only fired, but extradited from the country. Basically, there was this dude at work who just broke up with his girlfriend and was being a total jerk. That very day was Ani’s turn to face his attitude of a 6-year-old boy that did not get the toy it wanted. But Ani, being a Bulgarian and being a woman/snake (that is how one of her friends calls her) did not put up with him. As usual, he was being mean, but this time things would escalate. Everybody from the restaurant she worked at knew about her relationship with Scott and everybody was fine with it, knowing that they were simply IN LOVE. There is nothing wrong about that. However, that jerk decided to make fun of them and Ani heard him saying Yeah, Scott is giving his sl*t bigger tips so that she will then pay him back you know how hahaha. And that was the turning point, that was what Ani was waiting for. She turned around and slapped him so hard her hand hurt. Everybody- the servers, the other bussers, the manager…everybody just stood there, not knowing what to do or say. They were just STUNNED by what they just witnessed…. I have only one comment for this…GO ANI, GO, SHOW THEM JERKS WHAT THEY DESERVE! (#Feminismmuch..)  Lucky for her, she did not get fired, in fact nobody said nothing…they were probably afraid after seeing her throwing punches.

Having such experience with Americans, Ani gave me this advice

Do not trust Americans. 90% of them are lying to you or just saying something FOR THE SAKE OF SAYING IT, not because they care for you. Two-faced, that is the right word for them.  However, the other 10% are those who are worth not giving up on your faith. If you find those 10%, consider yourself lucky.

From what she said…I really do consider myself an EXTREMELY LUCKY PERSON…but let me not pull the Devil by the tail. Why am I lucky? Wait for the next post and I will finally reveal MY SECRET and Wat was my Most Memorable Time while on WAT….

Keep your spirits up! And the usual- follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I cannot promise you presents from me, but I can certainly talk to Santa and figure something out.

Oh by the way, I was looking for some cheerful Christmas tweets on Twitter and I made a story from them 🙂 I guess I am not the only weirdo who cannot wait! Check it out!

https://storify.com/ViktoriaGeo/i-am-not-the-only-one

christmas

Advertisements

The Inner World In The Outer World

From the east coast of the US, we are going on a loooong journey. A journey to an unknown land. And no, I am not talking about Narnia or The Pride Lands of Africa where Simba is the king or Jurassic Park. I am talking about a place where only one person can truly live. By himself. The soul.

10723167_718482071553646_781335463_nmBoyana Atanasova is a freshman from Ruse, second semester at AUBG. We have known each other for a year now and I have always seen her as a girl that can surprise you. And she did not prove me wrong. When we both came back from Work and Travel at the end of August, we got together at Prego to share some funny stories, to have nice time. As she started talking about her experience in Skagway, Alaska, she got so….it is indescribable. Her eyes were glimmering, sparkling with excitement, her voice got higher as she was talking, she was gesticulating like a nervous politician at the national tribune. She was changed and I could see that. Everybody who knew her could see that. She was more genuine in her emotions, more free, more everything. That’s why I wanted her to talk to me and share her path to change because I know many of us would gladly hear about it.

Boyana’s main reason to dedicate 4 months of her life to working is money. Her first destination, as mentioned already, was Skagway,Alaska. I have talked to my friends and they told me it was a good place to make money, to save money because…Basically there is nothing to do there, there is nothing to spend your money on. Only bears and moose and work.”  That was what she was expecting and that was what she got. In the rare moments when she was not overwhelmed by work, she would go hiking with her friends, which she finds more fascinating than going in big cities like New York and getting stuck in traffic, while trying to reach the Statue of Liberty. Bobi, as her friends call her, is satisfied with her decision; she made enough money to support herself and pay for her tuition. She achieved her goal.

As this was her first time in America, so far away from her parents, the feeling of 10723201_718482044886982_2016485341_nmnostalgia was her constant companion. Eventually, though, she got used to it and found joy and positivism within herself. Bobi even acquired some American manners, a thing typical for everybody coming back from the US: “I was feeling like…it was nothing like Bulgarian, I was feeling like a foreigner…But since I have come back, I have noticed that I am acting kind of like an American, I am using some of their expressions, phrases, I am being more polite with people and..the small talk of course. Bulgarians do not do that and they are looking at me like I am some kind of a weirdo.”

Bobi’s first job was as a housekeeper- a position many potential participators express fear of.  10707979_718482088220311_1532996881_nmHowever, what she says about it is actually kind of encouraging and gives a new perspective:“I was not feeling as unsatisfied as I was expecting. Actually, what I noticed was that Americans had a better attitude towards me than Europeans. And they were more willing to leave tips just so that they can make you feel better for yourself. Like presents. That was stimulating, made me more willing to give more to those people, to make their stay good because that might be their only vacation for this year and they want to have good experience.”

Her second job was as a pop-corn maker and it was a lot of fun. She was making pop corn…and eating pop corn…Bobi even says that : “that was what kept me alive during the summer. Sometimes you do not have time to eat between the jobs, you are in a hurry so I would just fill half of the pack and eat the rest of it myself. “

Besides some details on her work and hikes that she provided, Bobi decided that she is ready to share her story with people. And so, the trip began.

During her first year at the university, Boyana was, as she called herself, a “party animal”. She would go to clubs every night,1383021_657305690960492_644461668_n stay there until dawn, get drunk, and dance like crazy on the bars, without care. She acted like that because she wanted people to like her. Bobi pretended to be someone she actually was not so that she can fit in the community that was surrounding her. And if something had ever gone wrong, she would put the blame on herself, thinking there is something wrong with her. That girl does no longer exist. And people around her have noticed that: “Where is Boyana and what have you, what has Alaska done with her?” Bobi, however, thinks that her change is for the best even though people’s response to it was that she just got boring. She feels more confident with herself, more confident in her relationships with people, she learned how to prioritize what is important and what is not: “I feel like I am putting more effort in the things that matter to me because going to the club…is no so important. Putting a picture on facebook and tagging yourself from 5 different clubs you’ve gone that night…it is nothing that is actually going to bring something good in your life. “

Boyana described this one time when someone called her at 6 a.m., completely drunk and wanted to hang out with her. The old Boyana would say : “Yeah, let’s do it” , but the new her told him “Are you f*****g kidding me. You should have called in the afternoon and I might have considered coming.” The most disappointing part for her was that when she tried to contact the people she was partying the previous night, they were, all of a sudden, not interested in hanging out and were just ignoring her, greeting her with a fake hello whenever they were passing by her.

Now Boyana is a different person. She knows what she wants from her future; she has a “plan” what she wants to be and how to actually achieve it.10716064_718482108220309_1085274832_nAnd it feels good.” When talking about the friends she made in Alaska, Bobi’s face lightens up. “People helped me change. Communicating with those people showed me that I can be myself and people can actually like me for who I am.” She shared a story of what happened once while she was working at her second job. She had two colleagues from Bulgaria that were extremely rude to her that day, they were making stupid jokes about how women’s place is in the kitchen, they were trying to bring her down. And since her day, as a whole, was a bad one, she felt annoyed and sad pretty easily. One of her American friends saw that, noticed that she was feeling bad and on the next day, when she was coming back from work, she found chocolate, energy drinks ”like Rockstar and a “really sweet letter from him” saying : “Boyana, you are really awesome and we are happy to have you. Do not get disappointed, it is just a bad week, things are going to get better. You are a survivor, I am sure you can make it.”  Her friends helped her change and showed her that her beauty is in who she is, but not who she is pretending to be.

Boyana’s tips for the people that have not yet gone on a work and travel program is:

“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. “

 

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more life-changing stories.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Those 19 hours…

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. 247888_230409550305641_3453414_n

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 DakotaBismarck. 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 YorkThe 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.”                                                                    

GoToJailImage

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.”

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for updates and more interesting stories.

Alaska Times: Explore

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.

10385492_4458919607849_5327975741631795376_n

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.

Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for updates!

WAT times, WAT journey.

When I first opened my eyes in the morning, still half asleep, the look of my dorm room caught me off balance. Now, don’t get me wrong, my room is not that messy. What surprised me, in fact, was that I woke up in a dorm room, and that yes, apparently I’m back to my usual life in Bulgaria. To some it might seem weird that I still cannot get used to being in my home country, at a University I go to after spending only few months in the US. The truth is, my WAT times have been more real and remarkable to me than anything else I’ve experienced in my life so far. And even though I feel like I’m not ready to share my own story with the world just yet, I do believe that there are so many more stories worth telling out there.

The purpose of this blog is to shed some light on student’s Work and Travel experience, while avoiding the trivia and narrowing four months down to a single moment or two, the times that made WAT experience remarkable for every separate student. In other words, I’m looking for an answer to the following question: What was your most memorable time while on Work and Travel?
For the next 14 weeks, starting from today, I’m pulling out a map of the United States and going on a hunt for students and their WAT stories. My hope is that this blog is going to serve as a possible example of dos and don’ts of WAT, as well as help students who haven’t been there yet get an idea of where would they want to go to optimize their WAT experience and avoid disappointments.
Every week I will pick a random state and find as many related people and stories as possible, the culmination point being my own WATtimes, which I will share at the very end if you are still here to read them.
Follow me on Facebook and Twitter to get instant updates on the blog!