История Марии Семак
Участница программы Work and Travel USA 2014 года.
This year I decided to take part in the international students exchange program "Work and travel" which gives you a chance to spend summer in the USA. I chose this option because, to my mind, it's the best way for students to find out more about country and people, to have an amazing experience and the most important part for me - to practice and improve English skills.
In this paper I will try to bring light to the most important points of my journey. I will start with a short description of the program, then I will present my own experience during my visit to the USA and I will finish with some consideration about the exchange program, country and people.
To begin with, I would say that first time I heard about "Work and Travel" from my mother. She adores traveling and she is always trying to find the best option. According to her it was the best and cheapest way to spend some time in America. The aim of the program actually stays in the title " Work and Travel" : participants can come to the USA to work there for 10 or more weeks, earn some money and then travel with it across the country. Participants can choose the state in where he or she wants to stay. Usually sponsors prefer to send participants to the small cities to give them an opportunity to experience real life style of people, which would be completely different in capitals or big cities. The variety of places to go is huge, almost every state offers different opportunities. An employer can also provide seasonal employees with a place to stay: it may be either a dormitory or apartment not far from their workplace, it is not obligatory though. Participants have a real contract with an employer, which insures the visa and social security card. The participant should follow all the rules of the program and the particular employer, otherwise the treaty can be denounced and the participant will be deported, because visa is based on the contract terms and conditions.
For my summer I chose Ohio, one of the northern states in the Great Lake's region. The only thing I knew before coming was that Ohio is a farmer's state and a quiet place to spend summer. Sandusky is the name of the city where I went, it stays on the Lake Erie shore. The place is famous across the region because of its huge amusement park Cedar Point which is situated on the island. Every year this park hires about 2000 international students. And this was one of the main reasons for me. I really wanted to get there, because this place is completely different from everything we have in Russia, something which is typical American ; moreover the park invites its employees from across the world. I thought that it should be a great opportunity to practice English and make international friends.
I began my trip in New York City, because it is one of the major cities of the country. The day I came was very special for me. I have been studying English for 13 years, and I could definitely say that I knew enough about American culture, traditions and life-style. The most important thing that I learned from the first day in the USA was that theory does not work well enough; you have to learn everything by your own attempts and fails. You will never be completely prepared for the visit, you always have to fix and find out something during your trip starting with the nearest bus stop and finishing with.....
I was a little bit shocked by the difference in life-style, even though I have read a lot about it. The best thing was the people around. They were really friendly and were always ready to help. My first attempts to speak English were unsuccessful, because it was really different to understand different accents and ways of speaking. New York is like a big pot, where all the nations are mixed up, which makes communication really stressful, especially when you need to get important information about where you’re staying. I had to ask a couple of times before I could clearly understand what Americans mean, I got used to it really fast though. In a couple of days I could not only express my opinion, but understand what people are saying.
The next surprise was the amusement park itself. I have been to Disneyland before, but Cedar Point was a completely different place. There were thousands of people from different places. They were different ages and confessions, but all of them were completely caught up in the atmosphere of this place. I have to say that I have never seen so many happy and excited people at one place before. Amusement parks are a special place for Americans. It's a special type of vacation when the whole family comes up to spend some time together. I have been talking to families, about 15 people each, who come to Cedar Point every summer from different states just to spend vacations together. There are also a lot of seniors who has been coming every year during last 60 years, and those people were children when they got to the park the first time. It turned out that Cedar Point is not just an amusement park, it has its own history which starts in the begging of the 20th century and this place is a special part of American life-style.
I was working at the front desk of the main hotel in the park. It was an amazing time and I had an unforgettable experience of staying there. We had a crew which was about 30 people. Most of them were Americans but we also had people from the Czech Republic, Germany, Ecuador, Spain, Mexico, Romania, Ukraine, Macedonia and the Dominican Republic. I had a lot of great English practice because every day I had to deal with people with different accents and had to find a solution for each issue they had.
Sometimes we had to work very intensively, and that’s because we had about 400 arrivals per day, each of us usually met about 50 families. It was hard work, but it was an amazing time, though. I met so many interesting and outstanding people from different parts of America and I'm so glad that I had this fantastic opportunity to talk to each guest and sometimes I could learn a life-story of a whole family. Most guests were very polite and tolerant, even thought we made a few grammatical mistakes while speaking. We had to understand people with completely different way of speaking. For me it was also interesting that people from different parts were using different words to describe the same subject: several times I even had problems with understanding what exactly they meant. I had to ask them to explain once again in different words. Fortunately, our guests were very patient. Some of the guests were curious; they wanted to know more about our countries and the aim of our visit.