I am this kind of person that I love looking for opportunities and using them. When you are young – there are so many of them! And Work and travel USA (WT) is one of them. You can go to USA for 4 months – 3 months of work and 1 month of travel. Sounds good, huh? 😉
So after all procedures I was more than ready to travel. Because getting ready and doing a paper work takes a lot of time.
I registered in November. There are so many people going to work in USA that it is not so easy to get a job. I needed more than 2 months of active sending emails with CV and motivation letter to find a job. After more than 300 no, I finally got a yes from Casino Pier company based in New Jersey. I was more than happy. Another good thing – they took my friend Jurate too. So it was going all as planned. And there was another Lithuanian girl going – Agne – we became really good friends too. 🙂
Next step was to get a job approved by sponsors – all went well. Next – visa. I was so nervous before going there but all went really easy. Even though be careful if you have close family in there or you have been there many times before. One guy than went before me said it is his 3 rd year, he has a girlfriend there that is planning to marry and so on. And guess what? He did not get a visa that time. Maybe he went again. But just saying, even though 99% people get it, better be prepared to talk your way. 🙂 And finally having work and visa, I was able to buy a ticket.
Crossing the ocean
As I was a student I was saving every dollar. So I was flying from Warsaw to NYC. That means 8 h in a bus from Vilnius to Warsaw. Then waiting 6 h for the flight to Munich and then to NYC. But my flight was delayed. I remember hearing somewhere that in this case you should go to a counter and ask for help (now it is in my blood to ask ask and ask, but that was my first time). So the woman gave me a completely different flight (flight via Frankfurt), food coupon and I was all set. I was still in love with a German language after my Erasmus, so I was happy to fly with Lufthansa. The airplane was so big! I found my seat and prepared for a great trip. But my neighbor was a very talkative guy so I didn’t have a chance to sleep. But he told me that in NYC I can feel local from the first day – just to remember to do not use KG, Km, meters and so on. Also that USA is very international and You can find people from all over the world. And that was so true.
So after the 30 hours trip I finally landed in NYC. My host from CS (Couch surfing) was waiting for me. So from the first moment I was feeling safe. Even though it was already late but when he asked if i want to go to the city I said “Yes” in a heartbeat! The first impression is always the strongest. Those skyscrapers, shiny time square, roof top bar – I was in a dream. My host was a Macedonian guy living in NYC for many years. He told me so many things about his country, we tried Macedonian food that since then I wanted to go there. And after 3 years I did it. You can read my adventures in Macedonia too. 🙂
All in all I was very lucky with my couch surfing hosts – very interesting people, fun to be with, living in a great areas, willing to show around. So even though I was alone I never felt like it. During the first days I visited Metropolitan museum, that you pay what you like. Also central park, 5th avenue, Brooklyn bridge and other main areas, tried best food and best cocktails in my life. Probably that is the reason why NYC stayed in my mind as a perfect city. It is all about experiences and not really the city. 🙂
After 1 hour on a bus I arrive to Seaside Heights. A small town on the coast south to NYC. Have you heard of “Jersey Shore” tv show? So this is exactly where it happened. Yep yep, Jersey shore. Clubs, parties, casino’s, beach. And it is only 1 mile from one side to another. After arriving to the house I was in a small shock – 2 tiny rooms with 4 bunk beds for 8 people, tiny wardrobe, tiny living room and even smaller kitchen. All this for 8 people?! And we still have to pay for it. Ha ha, I thought it was a joke. But it wasn’t. Home for 3 months. A dreamland states – here you go.
After few days my friend arrived, and later another Lithuanian, and then some Belorussians. So we were 5 so it wasn’t so bad.
What about work? My first day was easy – Casino Pier arcade was not even opened – so just helped cleaning and preparing everything. So yes, you got it correctly, I was working in an arcade. On a counter – fun and clean job. 🙂 In the holiday atmosphere, with music coming from slot machines, the view of the ocean and 5 more girls from all over the world – can be really worse.
Every day was pretty much the same: changing money for customers, helping to choose a prize, registering old customers, making new play cards. The worst was when there was no work and you have to pretend that you work. You can not just chat with your friend about yesterday’s party. You have to clean the glass, arrange shelves to look perfect and so on.
Another good thing to work in Casino Pier was that they have not only arcade but also water park, rides, stands with the games and restaurant. So on the days off we could go to water park for free and enjoy the rides too.
Of course, when there are 60 international workers that live close by you can not imagine week without going out. We also organised some of those famous American parties with 100 people that half you don’t even know. But that is even better, right? 😀 As it was a holiday destination for locals there were clubs on every corner – good for us too. 🙂
So first it was very fun, work 12 hours, go to party until 3-4 am, sleep 5 hours and again to work. Only 1 day off that during that you want to buy food, clean apartment, sleep and also go somewhere! And when you realize that it is just impossible to do in one day you feel not so good. After 1,5 month tiredness is start killing you slowly, you stop enjoying things and just want to go home. My antidote for that was going to the ocean every morning before work – it was keeping me alive.
Also one day trips to NYC or Atlantic city with another two Lithuanian girls was helping from the same routine. Funny thing, whatever your routine is – you will get tired from it sooner or later. People need change. Or is it just me? 🙂
What should you know when you just arrive?
You will need to do a lot of paperwork. Normally employer is taking care of that, you just come and fill and sign and fill and sign. Also it is very important to open a bank account. I had an “Bank of America” account and I was happy with that. Just know that you have to make an appointment one day before for when you will come.
Also, you will get your payment in checks (at least that was for me and it is still very popular to do). So you just put it to the ATM and money is in the bank account.
Try to be active and meet people, use a chance that you are abroad. Find out activities you can do – surfing, tennis, cool cinema, club or something you would like to try? Trust me – the worst thing that might happen is that you will do nothing and you will regret the rest of your life.
Another thing many students do – they find another job. The biggest question – do I have to tell to a sponsor? Because it will take time, they might deny it etc. So the answer is yes, but you can always risk and try to work without telling. Then all responsibility is on you, like they do not pay you or you work extra hours and so on. If you decide to find a second job – just walk to some companies with your CV – many touristic places need extra workers during the summer.
Thanks for the people that I met during that time, that became my really good friends, for inspiration and good time! You know, it is all about the people. 😉
This was a first “boring” part of “Work and travel USA” – 3 months of work. I hope you will look for the job carefully and will not end up as a slave somewhere and will enjoy your working experience. Best time to apply is October – November so you would have time to find a job.
So after these 3 months I have traveled for 3 weeks on the west coast – you can find that in the second part.