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Scrolling down the Newsfeed of Facebook, seeing those pictures of my

friends having fun while studying and travelling abroad, the feeling of envy
overwhelmed me. I always wanted to have a taste of living in a new environment at
another corner of world. However, the fees and expenses to study and travel abroad
are just way too high and unaffordable. Thus, I always kept this little dream within
myself until the moment I found out about the USA Work and Travel Program from
the Speedwing advertisement in my university. The fee to take part of this program
is affordable and the participants could even earn travelling expenses by working for
three months in the foreign land. Thus, I decided to persuade my family to sponsor
me so that I could achieve this little dream of mine. I believed this was the golden
chance for me to jump at the chance to be more than a tourist but to immerse
myself in a new culture and have an extraordinary lifetime experience.
I was fortunate to have eight friends to join the W&T program along with me.
All of us were employed by Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, California and worked as
ride operators and game operators. As an engineering student, it was fascinating to
be able to see how those rides worked and the mechanisms to operate the rides.
This was somehow related to what I have learnt in the university. I would never find
any meaning of those mechanisms by just reading through all the textbooks until I
saw it with my own eyes. At the same time, I learnt about the management system
of such a huge theme park company and gained knowledge about the safety and
human resources arrangement. As a ride operator, we are the rules enhancer in
order to ensure no accidents or injury happens while the customers having fun on
the rides. At first, I was worried that it would be tough for me to operate such a huge
machine / ride such as Cliff Hangers and Cyclone and handle the customers all by
myself. However, most of the customers and supervisors are caring and helped me a
lots throughout the whole program. Besides, it was really exciting and fun to work as
a ride operator when I saw the smiles from the customers and kids after riding the
rides. At the moment, they said Thank you and have a great day and shown their
appreciation upon my job, I felt so great. The sense of achievement was
irreplaceable.
On the other hand, I was lucky enough to get a second job at Surf City Grill
which is one of the restaurants in theme park. In order to work as food server, it was
compulsory for the employee to take the California Food Handler Examination. I
learnt a lot about the techniques and importance of the proper food handling
methods. Inappropriate food handling methods could bring harm and even fatality. I
was impressed by the rules and legislation by the US government in order to ensure
the health and safety of their citizens.
Working as a cashier and food server is totally different from being a ride
operator. As a cashier or server, it is an everyday challenge to deal with customers.
This actually sharpens my problem solving skills and English communicating skills by

practicing it every day as we know that practice make perfect. With the increment in
my soft skills, this working experience also boost up my self- confidence and even
changed myself to be a more cheerful and proactive person. I believe that I have
transformed from an uninitiated shy girl to a more cheerful and brave person.
Besides, I always observed the way people of other cultures and mentality from the
little reception window such as the way they deal with their crying kids, the way they
communicate and etc. I enjoyed watching all-round views as a foreigner in USA.
Besides, the restaurant employer provided all the employees including me the meals
while working there. For me, the amount of enjoyment is directly related to what
goes into my stomach. It was a great chance for me to try on some local food free of
charge such as cheeseburgers, fried artichokes, old fashioned hotdog, corndog and
etc.
Working in a theme park was an awesome experience as the working
atmosphere was always happy, joyful and relaxing. The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
is a theme park located next to beach. While working in the theme park, I was always
mesmerized by the beautiful scenery. The accommodation of the employees, La
Bahia is located right in front of the beaches. It was relaxing to be able to wake up
with the sounds of sea waves and beautiful scenery right in front of our windows.
Every summer, there would be almost 100 Work and Travel participants from
all around the world such as Poland, Romania, Singapore and etc. to work in the
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk as ride operators, game operators, food servers and
housekeepers and all of us were staying in the same place, La Bahia which is a
historic Mexican style building and has a history of almost 100 years. It was a brand
new experience to be able to stay in such a historic and special building. Most of us
met each other every day at the work place and also hostel. It was great to work
with them as most of them are humorous and interesting which makes our tedious
working life became fun and pleasing. It was awesome to be able to meet every one
of them and to have a culture immersion experience abroad by learning about their
countries through the eyes of people who lived there. Most of the Europeans W&T
participants love to have a chilling session near the beach after work every night. We
were honored to be invited to join them and spend time together to know more
about each other and have culture exchange. We chatted and talked about our life in
our own countries and have some fun together. We even cooked and had potluck
sessions so that all of us from different countries would have a chance to try on
cuisine and dishes from other countries. After spending three months working and
living together, it was hard for us to say goodbye as we shared tears and joys
together. Some of us even became life-long friends and promised to visit each
others country in the future.
Moreover, we worked side by side with local residents of Santa Cruz and had
a great explore on the local culture and food. Most of the residents in Santa Cruz are

Mexicans and Hispanics. Thus, Mexican food is common and popular in Santa Cruz.
We tried on the burritos and tacos which are famous Mexican foods. Besides, the
locals also taught us their native language, Spanish and told us about their cultures,
music and dance. Most of the Mexicans love to dance along with music in groups
which is common in their family gatherings. In return, we taught them some
Manglish (Malaysia English) and Malays words and even invited them to have a
home cooked dinner in our hostel to try on our Malaysian cuisines. It was great
culture exchange and interaction. During our stay in Santa Cruz, we learnt to live like
a local residents. We got lots of help from our colleagues and also W&T person in
charge, Sequoia and David who took care of us well so that we could adapt our life in
USA in a short time.
During my stay in Santa Cruz, my friends and I visited some cities in the
vicinity of Santa Cruz such as San Jose and San Francisco. We visited some of the
famous destination such as Stanford University, City Hall of San Francisco, Lombard
Streets, Palace of Fine Arts (San Francisco), Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco),
Google Company (Silicon Valley), Apple HQ (Silicon Valley) and etc. It was great to be
able to visit these world famous destinations and see those magnificent architecture
and building with my own eyes. San Francisco is definitely my most favorite city in
USA. I was mesmerized by the beauty of Palace Fine Arts and City Hall of San
Francisco. I really appreciate the work of art by master hands after seeing all the art
creations by my own eyes. I was impressed by the fine work arts and the beautiful
views and atmosphere in the Palace of Fine Arts San Francisco.
After working in Santa Cruz for three months, we started to travel around
USA. We were lucky enough to be able to earn our travelling expenses by working
three months in the theme park. Before we started our journey, we amble down the
European style streets in Santa Cruz downtown to savor our memories in Santa Cruz.
We will definitely miss our friends, colleagues and all our memories in this
enchanting town very much.
Our first destination was Yosemite National Park, one of the most famous
national parks in USA. The scenery of the national park is breath-taking and
enthralling. We hiked up several park mountains during our trips and spent two
nights there. It was a wonderful wildlife sighting as we saw deer, raccoons and etc. in
a close distance. This was our first time to see and use a bear resistant food
storage to prevent bears attack. It was a fun and new lifetime experience. Next, we
travelled to Los Angeles and had a chance to visit Hollywood Street, Madame
Tussaud Hollywood and Disneyland. It was the very first time for every one of us to
visit these world renowned destinations.
Then, we visited Las Vegas which is the world famous city and appeared lots
of time in TV series and movies. All of us are amazed by the skyscraper; architecture
of buildings featured world famous buildings such as Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Towers

and etc. It was my first time to enter a casino and I am impressed by the luxurious
decoration in the casinos and hotels. On the other hand, we even joined Grand
Canyon Day Trip to witness the magnificent and significant natural wonder of the
world personally.
After visiting West Coast of United State, we flied all the way to Boston, MA
thanks to the advancement of public transportation. Boston, MA is definitely the
most beautiful city in the East Coast and has a feel of European city. We had a
chance to view on the night view of Boston in Prudential Tower which is one of the
tallest buildings in Boston and night view was breath taking. We were amazed by the
European style architecture in Boston and honored to be able to visit the world
prestigious universities which are the Harvard University and MIT.
Our last destination in USA is New York City which is well known as the
populous and bustling city. We visited some attractions of NYC such as Wall Street,
Times Square, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, 911 Memorial, Central Park, GE
Building and etc. We had a try on the hotdogs at the stall on the street which is a
must-try experience in NYC.
This almost four months life in foreign land gave me a total different
experience environment, culture, climates and had successfully transformed me to
be a more independent, proactive and confident person. I am able to communicate
with others and even customers in English which is not my first language fluently and
comfortably. Besides, it was actually a great opportunity for me to abstract from
busy life, have fun and heighten my intellectual outlook at the same time. It was an
eye opening trip which made me saw a brand new world and got a new perspective
of life. I would like to gratify everyone especially parents, travel-mates, colleagues,
employers and Speedwing for bringing me such a wonderful memories in USA. I will
definitely recommend this Work and Travel program organized by Speedwing to my
fellow friends as this program only cost relatively minimum money expenses and
bring positive improvement and great life experience to the participants as it is a
golden chance for one to get out from the comfort zone before making transition
from university student to career life, have a great lifetime experience and made
lifelong friends through this program.
**The attached file is the video of my Work and Travel experience.