End of Program Reflection: Summer Work and Travel Summer 2019
The busy summer season has concluded for our summer work and travel program and our participants are settling back into their home countries. We asked all our participants to reflect on their program and share their experience with us through photos and a mini-essay. As always, we received so many fantastic submissions! We’re happy to announce our winner: Diana Borja! Additionally, we loved Nicole Barriga’s photos, so we’ve selected her as a second place winner!
Diana Borja / Ecuador
Loews Hotels / Orlando, FL
My trip to the United States was one of the most important experiences I have ever had, and which I would remember for life. I made a lot of memories, and I also had the opportunity to travel near Orlando, be in new places like Miami, Clearwater, Kissimmee, Hollywood, and New Smyrna Beach and meet many people. Furthermore, I tried new food that was different and delicious.
Even though all those experiences are good, I had others that helped me to see how life works when you live alone. You have a lot more responsibilities, so you have to be organized. I think this was not too much difficult for me because my parents taught me how to be responsible, but when you are alone things change. This is one of the things I learned from the program. To be responsible, to go to work on time, so you can earn money to pay for your housing, food, and medicine. In that way, you appreciate the value of money and hard work.
In addition, you learn how to get involved with different cultures, talk to others and be able to understand their culture. Orlando is one of the places that I have visited in all these years with the most variety of people of all over the world. You can find people from Latin countries and Europe and also be related to Americans and their culture. Something surprising was that I met knew friends from the exchange program who are Turkish, which I have never imagined to meet before. I appreciate a lot the way you can practice English to communicate with others and understand everything. Learning English is an opportunity not everyone has, so that you can meet other cultures. It is amazing how we can understand each other in another language. That is why I think cultural exchange is very important in our lives, so that we can have more opportunities all over the world.
By speaking and writing in English you have a great tool to live anywhere in the world. This opens doors so you can get a good job in any country. To achieve that, you have to be persistent and keep learning and practicing it. I think the exchange program is one of the best ways to do it. Apart from the cultural diversity you experience, you work in another place where you have to learn new things and different ways to handle them. You have to be more responsible and follow all the new rules. Moreover, you have to do all those things by speaking other language that is not yours.
One of the things I loved was to try the delicious food in Orlando. It is completely different from mine, but I think every country has its own typical food. I have tried an extended variety of food in the buffets, seafood in restaurants and beaches (Clearwater, Hollywood Florida, Miami Beach), hamburgers in specialized places like Millers’ House and in Universal and Disney World some exotic dishes, that for sure you can only find there. I do not regret any of the things I ate; loved them.
In my opinion, every young person that can have the opportunity to go in an exchange program should do it, since it is a life changing experience. In a short period of time you can learn lots of things that may change your life forever and mark you in different ways. Not only the people, the relationships you have and your job, but also the food and the experience of living alone. You will remember it forever, all the good things you took from that time and the relationships you have made. Go for it!
Nicole Barriga / Ecuador
Six Flags Magic Mountain / Valencia, CA
Is hard to be far from home, isn't it?
It all starts long before getting on the plane, it all starts the moment when you decide to begin a new experience.
It is said that adaptation is the key to any circumstance, but it seems to me that adaptation is only the first step, everything else is about living and feeling every moment as if it were the last of your life.
It's hard to be away from your comfort zone, your family, friends, food and pets. It is hard to have to pay your rent, prepare your food, adapt to new language and lifestyle, make new friends and go to work almost every day. But it is much harder to stay in your house wondering what life will be like out there.
My name is Nicole Barriga and I'm 22 years old, this was my second work and travel program and I have to admit it was tough. Participating in this summer program changed my life, I can assure you it was an experience I will never forget. Because it's not just about getting to know a new country and making new friends, it's about striving every day, being kind, being happy and being grateful for life, because after all it's not your turn, it's what you chose. I learned many things, I met many people and places, I tried a lot of new food and I can say that all these things that are part of the cultural exchange make you grow personally and mentally, teaching you that you can achieve anything if you really strive to have it. Be in Hollywood, the Grand Canyon, Malibu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and more was only part of the experience, what has been lived in each place is what really counts, and I cannot tell it because each person should go out and live it.
In the end it is not so hard to be away from home when you live an unforgettable experience. And as my fortune cookie says “ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST”.
Thank you to everyone who entered. View some of the other submissions below!