“I stayed for three months in Boyne Falls, Michigan, in the United States, a village of approximately 400 inhabitants, where I worked as Housekeeping at the Bluegreen Vacations hotel. I went with my boyfriend, William, and he lived in the hotel’s employees’ quarters, where he shared a room with two other girls. Before, I had already gone on a tour to New York in 2012, but it was always a dream to have some experience abroad. As I already had the Work and Travel program in mind and one of the prerequisites was being in college, the 2014/2015 vacation was my last chance. I talked to my parents, as the investment is a little high, and I had the full support of my family.
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Through Work and Travel, with the J1 visa, you are employed in a temporary job for three to four months and have a visa available for one more month of tourism. I already spoke a little English, but the time I spent there was very important to improve. Watching TV, chatting and just listening in the language helps a lot. My biggest difficulty was the weather. I went in winter season, the temperatures were very low, the constant was approximately -13º and the lowest was -29º. The always cloudy sky and the completely white landscape would let me down on some days.
But I had no problem because I was a foreigner, on the contrary, everyone was willing to help and answer frequent questions, which occurred mainly in the supermarket. As I had to get back in time for college, I worked two and a half months and traveled 12 days, three in Chicago, eight in New York, and the last one in Washington DC, but just for the return flight, I couldn’t visit, unfortunately. Returning to Brazil was as difficult as going there. To think that the friends I’ve made and the people at work are people I’ll probably never see again…
The gains in living an experience like this are immense. I intend to repeat, maybe studying this time. The biggest personal gain is how much your mind opens to different things, you start to judge the different culture less, you know yourself more, you value what you have and, above all, you lose the fear of taking risks in new experiences. Professional gain, in particular, came with the foreign language and international experience. You might not get hired just because you have this on your resume, but it’s a huge help to not get dropped right away.”
By Marília Israel, Architect, Minas Gerais
Photos: Personal Archive
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