This summer, CHI invited its USA Work & Travel participants to take part in a contest to help show off their program spirit. Participants were asked to submit an essay, video or photo slideshow that best demonstrated their personal â€˜American Experience’. In their own words and images, here is what this year’s CHI USA Work & Travel alumni have experienced during their summer in America.
Essay by Balazs Dengyel, Hungary, worked in Falls Bridgton, ME
The most exciting day in the US
This is my 3rd time in the US on a J1 Work & Travel visa program. I return because I truly enjoy and believe in this concept and I think this is one of the greatest ideas to have been invented!
2 years ago I and 3 friends of mine decided to take a 3-week-long road trip in the Red Rock Country of the US. That was our first time to all of us and we really didn’t have too much idea how a trip like that should be planed, organized and especially executed. I and my girlfriend decided to plan and we tried to pay as much attention as possible to all details, such as how many days for a certain sight, where to look for accommodation, is it close enough to our destination? Oh, don’t forget the GPS!!! Did you put American POI’s and maps onto it? Andy many moreâ€¦
Booking after booking, vouchers after vouchers followed each other on the computerâ€¦All the vouchers, reminders and itineraries were printed so we had the paper with us as well. I’m a lazy guy, but my girlfriend was not. I was going to print out just the first page of one of our vouchers and she kept telling me to print out the whole thing! “Why?” I asked, “The last page has no valuable information just advertisements!” “I don’t care, just print it out!” She answered. “All right” I said “no need for fight” so all 3 pages were printed instead of 1.
One of our stops was the spectacular Sedona area in Arizona! That was just amazing!!! (I remember, after finishing our road trip in the South West I fell in love with that desert -type of areaâ€¦)
My sweet heart found a very unique, affordable accommodation not too far from the Sedona area; a house! A house that looked just attracting and beautiful including its surroundings! Forest, nice fields with flowers blooming and many moreâ€¦ After we finished our round trip around the breathtaking rock formations in the sunset I put the address into my beloved GPS (the GPS “knew” the address, no reason to be worried) and we started to head to our accommodation.
After a while there was no more paved road! That’s OK, I thought, so what. We kept going and going. A few minutes later I blinked to the screen of the GPS and it said that I still have about 10 kms (cca. 6 mi) to go. Uhh, isn’t it too much? On off roads? This is the United States, that’s not right, something’s wrong!
Then I looked at gas gauge and the needle was tooâ€¦close the red section. I had been driving only for like 3-4 days that car so I didn’t really know how many more miles I have before it gets too exciting (that area wasn’t thrilling of different facilities and the population wasn’t too dense eitherâ€¦)
So far: off roads, no service on phones, 4 young green horns in a car who never did anything like this before, little gas left in the car, seemingly still too many miles to go, the dark will fall in about 30 minutes BUT that’s OK, no reason to be worried, we are just having fun! Just like the beginning of a teen horror movie!
Finally we arrived! The GPS brought us exactly to the entrance! Good job, I thought. I got out of the car and started to look for the bell because the house and the property around it were surrounded by fences. (In Europe it’s more likely a phenomenon to surround your house/property with fences but in the US it’s notâ€¦).
We were in the middle of nowhere, it’s almost dark and there was nobody in a cca. 15 mile-radius! I started to take a better look at the gate; there may be a name or a number or something that could bring us closer to the end of that day (which was by the way more than excellent!) Then I suddenly realized a combination lock! Combination lock?! How am I going to open that gate and get onto the property? What combination?! Nobody told me anything previously about any combination! Jesus, we’re gonna end up sleeping in the car, I thoughtâ€¦ Then my girlfriend told me, BalÃ¡zs shouldn’t we take a better look at the voucher? (The voucher which I didn’t wanna print out fully).
“Okay, let’s see” – I said but I didn’t think at all that paper has anything useful on it.
On the bottom of the last page there was the combination to the lock to get in!!!
I said to myself I can’t believe it! No Way!
After opening the gate I parked the vehicle next to the house and I realized then that how are we gonna get in to the house?! Same lock, same number then a key fell out after unlocking a little box and then we could open the door.
That was something to me that I would have never thought that could happen to me! Usually there is somebody waiting for you, gives you the keys, gives you essential information, etc. But not that time.
If my girlfriend wasn’t there for us back then I’m sure we would have had to look for another place to sleep.
And that story was just the beginning of our wonderful journey!!!