Tuesday, March 21, 2017

USA, here I come!

During the summer holiday 2002 I attended a Work and Travel program for
foreign student exchange, as this was another character building experience. I was
lucky as l was able to borrow money from my father to cover the initial costs of the
program. Of course I worked hard in US and I paid him everything back. Although he
refused it, I also gave him something more to cover the loss he had by not having
that money in the bank account earning interest. America, here I come!

Visiting the United States of America was a real character building experience
for me. My schoolmate Peter and I flew from Prague to New York through Frankfurt
and then traveled by bus to Ocean City, Maryland. A long flight and jet lag took a toll,
and instead of our planned visit to the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks, we
slept like dead men. Having a friend with you is good because you solve problems
together and you each help the other if he is feeling down.

We had jobs prepared at an Ocean City, New Jersey amusement park, but our
two female schoolmates sent us an e-mail, that they were in Maryland and that they
needed help. So we decided to risk going to Maryland instead of New Jersey to help
our schoolmates find housing and to help support them somehow. We had only a few
dollars in our pockets, having spent most of our money for travel. We went to Ocean
City. It was hot outside, but we were cold because of the air conditioning.

As we had no other means of communication, we went to student agency and checked e-mails
to connect with the girls. We managed to meet them the next day. With a few dollars
in our pockets, we had to find cheap accommodation quickly, so we found an old,
cheap motel for one night. We feared what would happen if we didn’t find jobs soon,
because our money was quickly running out. The next morning we found the girls
and changed our accommodations. We lived in a house with other Slovaks and
everything looked fine except for the money situation.

One guy living with us, named Miro, was really easy going and kept our spirits high with constant joking. We became friends quickly, as we were very much alike. The next day, Peter and I ironed
our suits and started to look for jobs in hotels.

It was a really hot day and we were sweating in our suits. That was my first
funny experience as I spoke only “school English" and I did not understand some
phrases used by young people. As we were approaching the next hotel to ask for a
job and going through a parking lot, two girls in an SUV stopped and shouted at us,
"You're hot." I thought that this was a strange and impolite thing to do, so I did not
respond and ignored them. I was sweating in my black suit and I knew that I felt the
heat. Girls, you don't need to tell me what is obvious.

It was only later when I knew English better that I understood the girls were saying
they thought we were good looking. They weren’t talking about the heat at all!
After a long day of filling out application forms, we came back to our apartment
and decided that it would be smarter to wear tee shirts and shorts the next day. There
were many students in town and everybody was looking for a job.

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