Remembering that life doesn’t stop

When you’re away from home its easy to forget that life doesn’t stop for everyone else. Your friends and family are still going about their daily lives and having their own adventures. When you’re missing your loved ones, it can sometimes be hard to accept this and see their pictures and hear their stories. 

Everyday you’re busy doing your own thing, its easy to forget to “check in”, and before you know it a week or two has passed since you’ve spoken. 

With social media its so much easier to see what other people are doing. However, it can be hard to see all your friends together having fun. Or your family having parties and holidays. Its then you realise how much you miss your loved ones. 

Although you wish you could be there with them, sometimes you wish they could be there with you and experiencing the same life changing opportunity. Or you want to do both. Its difficult. You have to remember that this is the journey you chose and hopefully it will be worth missing out on those good times. 

With the good times at home, also come the bad. These are far more difficult to cope with missing. When something goes wrong you just want to be with those you love in order to support each other. Its hard to imagine things going wrong. But they do. That’s life. 

Despite the possibility that your family and friends could get sick, or you miss important events, you can’t live your life in one place and in fear of the inevitable. If we did, the human race would cease to exist. Wars would be more likely because we wouldn’t understand one another. Travel is important. Life is short. Don’t live in fear of “what if”. Make the most of every opportunity and each moment. 

Making your memories last a lifetime

Participating in a work and travel programme you’re constantly busy, whether this be working or travelling. What is sometimes forgotten is that when you’re working you’re making as many memories as when you’re travelling. This may be through talking to colleagues, or guests, or just events that occur during your shift. 

The saddest realisation I’ve had though, is that I’m not going to remember all the little things I’ve done. So I’m very thankful to my friends and family for my travel memory gifts which include:

A camera


Whether you’re a photographer or not, you’ll become one when travelling. 

A powerpack so I always have charge for those Instagram worthy pictures and making all my Snapchat friends jealous of course! Plus its a reminder to have fun.

A scrapbook (unfortunately this didn’t fit in my case) but I will fill it with selected photos and tickets .



For those that are less creative, travel journals are brilliant for writing down events and memories that have happened. As well as recording your itinerary. 


Finally, postcards and little items that remind you of things. 



Postcards are especially good, if like me, your photography skills aren’t brilliant!

At the end if the day, you’re not going to remember as much as you think or as you want to. So for anyone wanting to travel, I urge you to try at least one of these techniques. They’re not particularly expensive or time consuming either, which makes everything better!

The Most Life Changing Experience

Words cannot describe the empowerment and inspiration I have gained and learned this week. I cannot get over how lucky I was to have been selected from 2100 other applicants to meet 44 other young and motivated change makers from 39 countries from across the world. 

We arrived as strangers from different cultures, backgrounds and upbringings. Yet we were all there for one reason. To make a change. 

It was this reason that made it so easy for us to work together and become friends. We all had different things we wanted to change and raise awareness of in our communities, yet we were open minded and communicated with each other effectively to teach and learn about other cultures. 

The summit was held at American University, Washington D.C. at which we arrived on Monday afternoon. Each fellow was given a registration pack which consisted of two t-shirts, a waterbottle, a notebook and pen, sunglasses and a schedule. 

Amongst the pack was a passion worksheet which consisted of 5 fairly challenging questions. We then had the opportunity to speak to the other individuals whilst having dinner. After dinner was  cultural orientation, which required us to talk to people we had not yet spoken to about our name story, then answer 5 deep questions to someone different. After a bit of housekeeping and rules it was time for bed. 

The second day was long, but so amazing, motivating and inspiring. Breakfast began at 7.30, followed by the opening ceremony at 8.15 where we learned about the background of CIEE and receieved a talk from Kevin Saba (Department of State’s Global Partnership Initiative ) who said ” your life will be shaped by the people you meet, the books you read and the experiences you collect.” We then had more intercultural training regarding communication and knowing what is effective and appropriate when talking to people from different cultures. Mentor Dida from Ashoka then gave a talk about how to change the world, and emphasised the importance of commitment to your passion, taking action on what you can do and taking one step at a time. He was so inspiring and motivating and got us all excited for the day ahead.

The rest of the day was spent in our five smaller groups. In which we began by introducing ourselves in a throw and catch game, then thought about our passions, skills, problems, groups and ventures. It was so interesting to talk about all our different passions, skills and problems and discovered that the education system was the root of many of our issues in all 9 of our countries but for different reasons. After a quick lunch break, we broke off into three smaller groups of three to work on a venture combining all three of our ideas. We were then taught the art of a good pitch which we used to talk to strangers around campus to gain their thoughts and feedback before presenting to the group and picking our favourite. For the closing activity, we each got to write something positive on each other’s t-shirts.

Dinner consisted of pizza and chocolate cake as it was a fellows’ birthday, before listening to a presentation by Girl Rising who demonstrated the importance of educating girls by using the “story of us” to make a change. At 9pm we were dismissed for the day.

Day 2 began with breakfast at 7.15 followed by more intercultural training. In this session, we were required to sit with someone we weren’t familiar with, and together, draw a house with one pen without talking. Funnily enough, despite being from 40 countries, the majority, minus one or two exceptions, drew a basic square house with a triangular roof and possibly a chimney. We then had a quick break and a talk from The Rule of Law, discussing corruption in politics and around the world. For me, it was astounding and quite upsetting how much corruption there is in the world and how little power the people have over it. It made me realise how lucky I am to live in the UK. 

Afterward, Street Law came in and we broke off into three groups and four smaller subgroups. In these groups we discussed and wrote down the attitudes, skills, knowledge and actions of a good citizen and explain to the rest of the group why these were important. In the next exercise, we were given scenarios and we had to stand on different sides of the room depending on whether they should, or should not be, a crime, enabling a debate on our reasonings. 

It was then the moment we had all been waiting for. The tour of Washington D.C.! We began the tour on the bus and hopped on and off it at various points around the city. It was a quick and tiring tour due to the time restraint, heat and humidity but it was very interesting and inspiring to learn about the history of each site. We managed to see Capitol Hill, The White House (which is much smaller in real life), the Abraham Lincoln memorial, the Washington Monument, the Vietnam War memorial and my favourite- the Martin Luther King Memorial. All in just over 3 hours!

After dinner, it was time for the venture “pitch off” between each groups’ venture winners. It was really good to see what everyone had done and how they were all different. We then had a few emotional final words followed by a closing ceremony, where we each received certificates and could say our farewells to the CIEE leaders. 

It was now our turn to control the schedule, so we got changed and ready to head out into D.C.. However it took about two hours as we realised we could not organise ourselves! Eventually, we managed to decide on a jazz bar which had an awesome live jazz band playing. It was so unique and we all managed to have deep and meaningful conversations about current issues as well as have fun. And, like any other night out, it finished in McDonald’s! 

It may seem as though the tour of D.C. would be an obvious favourite part of the week, but for me, I loved the cultural development sessions and the other deep conversations I had with the fellows regarding our cultures and global issues. This week has ignited something within me to make a change and difference, as well as travel to all these amazing countries and experience their cultures for myself. “You can make a change if you have a passion, the willingness to take a risk and taking this risk”, (Kevin Saba, 2017). 

What no one tells you about the work aspect of a work and travel programme…

When participating in a work and travel program, the work adspect tends to get overlooked. Why? Because you’re only working for three months, and the money you earn is being spent on your flights, accommodation and program fees before, during and after your placement.

However, even though three months doesn’t seem like a long time, it is when starting a new job, especially in a foreign country.

Personally, not enough was talked about in regards to the work part of the program. The predominant focus was on documentation , program and accommodation fees, and our plans after work. The fact that we had to work was almost forgotten. 

At the interview, we were told a bit of information about the resort and some of their expectations of us, and, if we were successful, we were provided with a vague job offer including the minimum hours of work a week, accommodation price and our job role and pay rate. But we did not know what our weekly schedule would look like in regards to breaks, days off and what location we were based in and whether this was more than one. 

Until our own research and orientation, we had a brief knowledge of the company but not who our managers were or who we would be working with such as other J-1s, permanent local staff or a combination of both. This meant the first couple of days were a bit daunting, although everyone was really welcoming so you soon settle in.

In regards to accommodation, it wasn’t until we arrived at the hotel and were given our keys that we knew where we were staying and who our roommates were. This was quite nice though as it meant we could present ourselves for the first time without people “knowing” us based off social media. 

The majority of people enjoy their jobs, however being capped at 40 hours a week has caused a lot of annoyance as people are not making as much money as they could have done if they had gone to another resort. 

Based on this and the things we were not told, if I partook in this program again, I would conduct more research into the resort as well as attempt to contact other workers. 

Language

Language noun- a system of communication consisting of sounds, words, and grammar, or the system of communication used by people in a particular country or type of work. Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus. 

When travelling to America, a language barrier wasn’t anything that crossed my mind. How wrong and niave I was! Britain and American have different names for multiple items- more than I was aware of, which is strange considering we supposedly speak the same language. 

For example, the British would call this a “note”, whereas Americans call it a “bill”, striking up much confusion in work!

The Brits call this a ” bill”, but in America it is a “check”.

The most frustrating and irritating difference if you get it wrong though is ” chips”. I’ve ordered chips and I get a plate of crisps. To say I wasn’t happy was an understatement. What I really wanted was “french fries”, as I have come to realise they do not sell the proper British chunky chips, which is really disappointing! 

America- chips. Britain- crisps. 

America- fries. Britain- French fries. 

America- ” They’ve never lived”- Emily Hallworth. Britain- chips. 

These are just some examples of the differences but there are many, many more. 

The two countries also take offence to different things too.

In Britain, we don’t mind saying ” I’m just going to the toilet” or having signs that say “toilet”. But in America, they consider this ” too much information”, so I have had to train myself to call it a “restroom” or “bathroom”. 

To this day, the funniest moment of difference and offence was when I told a man to “take care” and he stuck two fingers up at me. In Britain, this means something rude resulting in me getting insulted, however, the Americans use this symbol to say “peace”. Something else completely! I have yet to live this moment down at work.


As well as language differences between Americans and Brits, there are also many language differences between other participants on the work and travel program, with individuals speaking their native language as well as English, and a few speaking more. This makes me feel very lazy and ashamed of the British language system for not teaching us a second language to the same extent. Hearing these individuals switch between the two so easily is fascinating and really motivating to learn another language. 

So my advice before travelling is research the language beforehand if you want to be understood and not made a fool of! 

Adventuring beyond the resort

This week I was blessed with two days off, so myself, and a few friends ventured into the local town on one of the days and the beach on the other. 
The town was so typically American- very small, with only a few stores and restaurants. 


The shops looked really small on the outside but they go really far back. The weirdest thing though was the toy/ book store. There was a cage with degus in it! But they weren’t for sale! It was surreal and not like anything you find in England, especially as there was a coffee shop on the other side of the shop! 


As well as the toy and book store, there was the worlds longest candy counter store. There was so many sweets I could not believe my eyes! There was also loads of chocolate covered food and homemade fudge! It smelt AMAZING! 


After exploring the town we treated ourselves to a Chinese buffet. We ate so much because it was something different to the same American cuisine we’d been eating the last 5 weeks, and it was only ‚ā¨10.95!


On my second day off I travelled even further from the resort, two hours to Hampton beach. When we arrived it was quite cloudy so we set up our towels, played frisbee and had snacks. 


We then went for a walk along the promenade looking in all the beach shops and at the street food. Who knew you could deep fry ice cream? And Oreos for that matter! 


Thankfully it had brightened up and was significantly warmer so we went back to the beach and into the ocean. 


However, I was still really hot so went to a food stall and bought the best mango smoothie. The key ingredient is a little bit of honey. It was so good I had to take a selfie! 


We stayed at the beach until the clouds came over again and drove back to the resort. On the way back we unfortunately got caught in a storm. The rain was so heavy we couldn’t even see the car infront. It was ridiculous! We needed to settle our nerves and fill our stomachs so we ate dinner at Red Apple in Concord, which was an even better Chinese/ Italian/ American/ Japanese buffet! The perfect end to the perfect day. 

As amazing as the resort and the mountain view is, it was nice to escape elsewhere and see other views! 

Independence Day 2017

As an “English lass” I probably shouldn’t be celebrating the 4th of July but it’s hard not to when the Americans go so over the top with it. 
Unfortunately, the Saturday of the weekend was a bit of a disappointment as there was a storm, although that was pretty amazing to watch! So the hotel fireworks were postponed to the Sunday and they were something else entirely! 

There was patriotic music playing in the background, guests sat on picnic blankets on the lawn with glow sticks in their hair and fire pits in full blast. 


The fireworks lasted about 20 minutes and just got better and better as time went on. 


The hotel was also decorated for the occasion, with flags hung across the front porch and the front veranda. 



The hotel kids club set off the weekend celebrations with a canon at 1pm on the 2nd, when the treaty was officially signed. Continuing the event, the children participated in their own way with a giant water balloon fight, in which my roommate, Emily, had to blow up 10,000 balloons!

Sadly I was working on the day itself, as the hotel was filled to capacity with people all across country staying for the occasion. However, the American employees still got in the Independence Day spirit wearing items of red, white and blue, greeting guests and serving “All-American Apple Pie Milkshake” as a 4th of July special. 

In the evening, the activities centre held celebrations from 6pm with a bouncy house for the children, a live country band and food stands selling the famous Independence Day hot dogs and burgers, as well as salads and drinks before the fireworks at 9pm. 




It’s fair to say Americans are far away more patriotic and celebrate a lot more than the British on their national holidays. 

Cuisine

Food is such a big aspect of our lives, and a lot of us spend a lot of time planning our activities around it. Especially in America. 

Not having a kitchen means eating at restaurants or buying food from a cafe which is great (albeit expensive!) as it results in trying a lot of new and a variety of food. 

In New Hampshire they are really fond of maple and put it in a variety of recipes including whoppie pie. I haven’t tried one as it sounds too sickly! 

However, I have tried other “typical” American foods, such as soft pretzels with dragon breath mustard:


Grilled cheese sandwich:

New York cheesecake 


Vanilla milkshake

And a fluffernutter, which is marshmallow fluff and peanut butter in a sandwich! It’s weirdly good but I couldn’t eat a whole one! Personally, I just love the name! 
It’s true what they say though, America does have big portions! 


I still can’t get over the size of this banana and nut muffin! It was really tasty though, which is why I expect it’s so large! 


These nachos are a third of what they serve… as an appetiser! I have managed to eat a whole portion though after an hour at the gym followed by a mile walk and three hours at work! 

Although, it can be hard to find something you like, especially if you have dietary restrictions. In America, meat is at the centre of every dish whichis difficult for me, being a vegetarian!

One lunchtime I was only able to get this in the cafeteria after a 5 mile hike. I was so hungry! 


But after a few sickness incidents after this meal I don’t eat there anymore! There’s a reason why rice should not be reheated! 


It looked and tasted good as well! 

So now I eat out, or get an employee meal where I work. This was my meal at the top of Mount Rosebrook the other day. A Greek wrap with crisps (chips) and a pickle. They love their pickles here, thankfully, so do I! 

It can get boring eating the same meals everyday so I try and change it up a bit with side by sometimes getting fries or chips. I’m still trying to get my head round the fact that chips are crisps here, which is harder than I thought it would be! 

They also have different names for other items not just food, but that’s a whole other blog! 

Ultimately I’m just looking forward to trying foods from different states, however I do miss my mums roasts, especially her Yorkshire puddings! And British chocolate of course!

Making the most of everything 

Being part of a work and travel program is difficult because you’re working full time, yet all you want to do is travel. This is why when you get your schedule it is important to plan your days off. 

For example, at my resort there are many activities to get involved in. Mostly though I’ve just been hiking a lot with friends, as there are so many beautiful sights to see. 


A walk also helps clear the mind and wake up, which is especially useful if you have a day off. 

The time spent in the program is short, and you’re only going to get more tired as the season goes on and gets busier so saying YES feels like a must. However, it is important to look after yourself in order to be able to work and make money for the travel after. 

You’ve just got to try and make the most of every situation because it may feel like a long time, but this experience won’t last forever.  

Dealing with Homesickness

You could be having the best day of your life. Then suddenly it hits you how far from home you are, or how different from home the area you are is in. Or maybe something happened and you just want a loved one, or to be back in your own surroundings. 

It’s hard. Especially when you’re away for a while. But everyone experiences it. It’s perfectly normal to be homesick. Some may just express it more openly than others. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. If anything it means you’re stronger for persevering through it. 

But how do you cope? 

Sometimes a video call can help, or looking at pictures. These may make you miss home more. But you’ve just got to remember that you’re not here forever. Immerse yourself in your surroundings and people around you. 

Go for a walk. Take some pictures. Do something cultural. 

You just have to remember, the people you love and the places you come from, are all under the same stars.