We want to introduce you to someone special – Oli! You’ve probably seen him all over BUNAC’s Instagram, taking amazing shots of places he’s been to whilst traveling around North America on our Work America programme. It’d be pretty hard to cram everywhere he’s seen in the last three and a half months into a single sentence, but the gorgeous sights of Niagara Falls and a very casual picture with old Abraham Lincoln in Washington D.C were two of them. He sits down to chat to us about EVERYTHING… (Well nearly.)
First things first – let’s put the ‘Work’ in Work America. What was your job and where were you based?
I was based in Ocean City in Maryland, and I worked in a theme park called Trimpers Rides. I usually worked on games along the boardwalk (which was the main bit) on stalls like the basketball and horse race which were usually the most popular. My day to day duties included commentating on the microphone and trying to get customers to get involved!
How much time off did you get and what did you do on your days off?
I worked six days a week and had one day off. You have the freedom to choose when you have your days off and also who to have it off with, so I was lucky to be with my friends every time. Ocean City is a really fun-loving beach town, so we usually hung out at the beach and did water skiing and parasailing. We also had free rides at Trimpers which we really made the most of. In the city itself the restaurants were really good – even for a vegetarian like me.
What did you get up to when your job finished? Did you go travelling?
Yes! I went on a road trip with three friends. We rented out a campervan and drove all around the West Coast for two weeks. We went to LA, San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, Sequoia, Vegas and the Grand Canyon, then finally back to Vegas again to fly to New York. If I had to choose a favourite, it has to be Yosemite. The views were just incredible – honestly like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It was actually surreal just being there. After that I went on a G Adventures tour from New York and headed to Philadelphia, Washington D.C and up into Canada to see Toronto, Montreal and Niagara Falls. So basically I did a lot of travelling, and it was genuinely the best time of my life.
What’s been the BEST thing about doing Work America? (Sorry, we know it’s difficult to summarise!)
I think meeting people from different nationalities is definitely the best thing. I made friends from Spain and Germany who I’m already planning to go and see next summer. Having friends all over the world means it’s an excuse to go on holiday and get free accommodation! It’s also great to experience a different culture like America. It makes you stronger as a person to be able to move away to a new country even for just a few months. For me, the new found independence I had showed me that if I ever wanted to make a permanent move, I could do it.
We agree. We’re a strong believer that travelling helps your personal growth – ‘travelling to find yourself’ is our favourite philosophy!
(Laughs) And it’s true! It sounds stupid, but I used to get a bit of anxiety when I went on public transport because I was afraid of getting lost, but in America I really didn’t have a choice. I had to go on it all the time. If you’ve ever been on a New York subway you’d know how confusing it all is, and I managed to work it out. Doing that has made me more confident with everything now.
We’re so pleased for you, Oli! And finally, what would you say to students that were a bit unsure of going on Work America or travelling in general?
I would say definitely take the opportunity now when you’re a student. Once you’ve graduated, you’re never going to get another summer like it. Obviously it’s always a plus when you get home and you can say you’ve had a better summer than all of your friends!
It’s fair to say Oli has had an unforgettable summer on our Work America programme and you can book on for 2017 now. If working with kids is more your thing, spend the summer working at an American summer camp, or take part in our Soccer Camp USA programme. You can even spend up to a year doing a professional internship in America. Whatever you choose, if you want to have an incredible summer like Oli in 2017, check out the www.bunac.org/uk or give us a ring on 033 3999 7516. We love a chat.