– “Tanja why are you going on the Work and Travel program? You will work as a waitress there.”
– “Well I want to earn some money for my master’s. Everyone says that they earned a lot of money there.”
– “I can’t really see what kind of experience that is.”
Every beginning is hard… as the beginning of this program for me was, as well.
I was complaining to everyone how I had a hard time and how I could not wait to come back home. I found the town I stayed in pretty sad, I did not work the first two weeks, I only had expenses, no income, and it was raining the whole time, as it had been autumn.
I hated the day I arrived in Ocean City, MD. I knew I was lucky only because of the people who I lived with. There were 9 of Serbs in one house.
My first day at work was very strange… nobody except Ivana, a girl from Serbia, did not shake my hand. I met one other guy who was, of course, frowning the whole time and he mostly talked to the managers in Turkish. “I have no idea how I will manage working here”, was the first thing I thought.
They told me to go to the bar and talk to the bartender about my job and obligations. When I left he was very angry and he was not in the mood when he shook my hand. Only in that moment I had wished for the summer to be over and to be the time for me to go home. Shortly after that, it was time for me to take my first order. Ivana helped me out a lot. From that moment on I felt much safer having her by my side. Each day we helped each other more and more and stood for one another, unconsciously we became really good friends and started spending every day off together making amazing memories.
I became richer for one friend from Serbia
As time went by there were new students coming and moving into our house. One night we were all sitting on the balcony and heard someone on the ground floor talking in our language and then we invited them over. It was a guy from Croatia who had just arrived and who was sitting on a balcony. From that night on we spent every evening together after work chatting, listening to music and being the closest “family members”. We planned trips and parties together. We agreed that Serbs and Croats are the same people and that there is nothing better than spending some quality time together after a hard day at work.
I became richer for one friend from Croatia.
Students from Romania arrived pretty late because their exam period takes place much later. That is how Aleksandar and Teodora came to work in the restaurant I was working at. Two completely different people who made my working days much more enjoyable. Teodora worked with me at the pool so we were always helping each other out. Alex worked in the kitchen and he was always positive and the youngest from us all so he always had good vibes around him. He would always make everyone’s day. After work we would always rather stay up and talk about life and get to know each other better than go home to sleep.
I became richer for two friends from Romania.
A guy from the kitchen who was the first person I met was Dogan, the one I thought I would not be able to work with and that I would be fighting with all the time, actually turned out to be my biggest support throughout the whole summer, besides Ivana. He would always help me when I needed it. I did not even have to ask him for it. When there were a lot of customers you do not have time to think about eating or staying hydrated but Dogan was always a step ahead of everyone. He made sure we ate regularly.
I became richer for one friend from Turkey.
Alex, Dogan, Ivana and I started working and living as a family. All our sleepless, drunken nights, dinners and working days made me love the place I hated at first. If somebody asked me if there is something I would change about my experience there, there would be not a single second I would change. I became rich, because money is not something people go for on this program. They go because of the people you meet and experiences you get.
Everyone who wants to go on the Work and Travel program has to know that they will return home richer for one amazing experience and a great number of people. Money goes away, but people are forever.
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