Testimonios

In Key West, Florida

Agustina B recounts his experience of work and travel USA in a restaurant in Key West.

Agustina B, 19 years old
Student
Company and workplace: assistant at XTEND

Where did you go?
I went to an island in the South of Florida, Key West, the most Southern point of the USA, 90 miles from Cuba. It is a very small island, with old houses (Hemingway lived there). The houses are very beautiful; I chose this place because I went when I had just turned 19 years old, alone, and I travelled around cycling or walking. I supposed that if the island was so small, the people would all be friendly and it was indeed like this. You know everyone and I never felt too "looked after". Great for going fishing in the gulf, swimming with dolphins, scuba diving, and having friends from all over the USA. (None Spanish). It is a touristic island.

How long were you there for?
I went to go for three months, I stayed for 5. - And I returned for "bureaucratic" reasons. It was very hard to go home. Obviously I wanted to see my family and I missed them very much. But it was incredible because you grow from zero. you find a job, you progress within your job, you train people, you decorate your department a bit at a time... and when you manage to create that "world" (to your liking, no conformity)... you have to criticise yourself. But well... one thing ends and another begins. There are cycles.. and it is hard for me to accept that this one has ended.

How did the experience help you?
Well.. FOR EVERYTHING! I have been setting myself goals and completing them since I was a little girl.. I always new that I would make a step like this. I don´t know how my parents let me do it, but they did it, they trust me, and it all went very well (I will explain that I did talk about it with my Dad... but my Mum found out when I had the flight, because if not, then she would not have let me go. Today she´s pleading for me to take her there). Now I know that "you can do anything", my little sisters knows. I got to know Disney! This year i´m going all over the Californian coast! There are a lot of people who do not want to leave because they are working or studying. "Graduate first..." I left everything, and incredibly I shortened the path to what I wanted to do. Without exagerating, they hired me at my first interview as I just returned... I "established" myself and I was sure of what I wanted to study (educational science), I returned CERTAIN, with a projection, now I know what I want to do and what I am building, and everything that I do from here onwards, it will be to build that. You are not born with an adventurous spirit, niether are you born with "guts" .. you are not born with fixed ideas and with accomplished dreams. You do this without thinking. Truthfully, for this experience it is now or never. Being scared is healthy... "courage is not not being scared, but confronting your fears"... that is to say, being scared and doing it anyway. Anyway... behind great things there are always "crazy people". Can you immagine what they said about Colon when he wanted to go to the end of the world?

How did the internship help you abroad to find the job that you do now?
It helped me find a contract in the USA for this year, they are sending me the contract via post (two times haha), the week I arrived I was already working.

Why was it in your interest to go?
In terms of work, to strengthen my personality, my character and some form of self-esteem on an emotional level, to return successfully, or not, but you have been inspired. You did something more. You have a story to tell.

Where would you advise others to go?
I do not understand how they go to snow hahaha! Skiing is one thing, living is another! Hawaii is good and the Carribean too! Or Florida! There are more tourists (better jobs), the people are nicer, and above all relaxed. My bosses were the best. I worked in a restaurant with a pool... in front of the yaths.. the uniform and everything was great! Sometimes you even heard them talking about an eternal summer in this place.

How must you consider the trip?
I know that this is said a lot, but it is a unique experience. FOR FEW. But it depends on each person, on the experience that you want to create.. TIME NEVER STOPS seriously! I want to have written more than "a chapter" ... to be 25 years old, to be graduates, 3 work and travel programs, one exchange, languages, etc...! Not only "yes, I graduated" .. and what elseee?! As in after graduating you can do a lot of stuff! You get a boyfriend, and you are neither suitable for this program nor for many other things (including work). Many people are students wanting to graduate. I would say make the most of this regular student "licence" which opens the doors of the world to you! Make the most of this age! Being a student is not torture, what matters most in this stage of your life, more than anything else, is the PATH. You can do EVERYTHING. (more the students of hospitality! for example).

Which jobs are best to do there?
ONES WITH TIPS. It is craziness. I was a waitress and hostess on a boat. There is a kiosk and they put a little container on it which says "tips". THEY LEAVE TIPS FOR EVERYONE. Being a waitress, 20%. It does not need to be said that there is no chance for you not to make up what you invested, the question is how much are you going to save up. Last year I did not worry about saving up, I bought a bed, a coffee maker, everything for my house (I lived with 4 yankees and also everyone stays at home for the whole of summer, it's really fun). And I saved up "without even wanting to". This year I am going to save up to pay for my studies, a trip to Europe,., and I am not exaggerating. You can make around US $ 100 to 200 a day, depending on the season (and only one job). Me as a waitress eh! As a hostess 86 per day was my fixed salary, and on the boat they were 30 for fixed shifts and they were generous.. sometimes you got to 50... some more than others.. it depends, the quantity of things to do is incredible.

How much did you earn a month on average?
Ah! No idea! The thing is that I earned in the day and then I blew it all, and I would return the next day to do the same.. it was a problem haha! We invited each other to eat... search me.. we went kayaking, on all cruises possible.. but it depends on each person. It is very easy to spend your money being with people from there... the concept of "saving" does not exist. IT DOESN´T EXIST. They say that the US economy is two weeks from breaking for an American. That is to say that no American has savings. It is easy to get infected by the matrix.. but ALL the young people save, the argentines, and well, some continue travelling.

On what did you spend your money?
Mostly on my house, it was unfurnished and we put everything in it. The cleaning things, microwave etc.

In the USA they can make money or enjoy, to have friends or whatever it might be! And don´t be afraid of the English! On top of learning, there are lots of people who don´t even know "J" and have lived there anyway for YEARS. There are places where speaking English is weird.. (MIAMI). Don´t forget the idea of the program for students is to GO TO LEARN! And you learn more than just English.. that is for sure. You return thinking that you can do anything. ANYTHING.

Good luck to all in their journeys, and let´s hope that we inspire each other to do them. To have the SENSE FOR OPPORTUNITY, to know when to take it. If you have the opportunity, don't "do a runner", do it for those who cannot, who don´t have the right age or health. (I didn´t have the money, but that really doesn't matter, and I worked hard to get it, all of last year I didn´t spend at all).

It is important to travel the world to inspire yourself with change and new things, which in the end lead you to self-discovery, or to see what you could have been "if you were born in...". It is fascinating! But work and travel also has a before and after. It does not last long, and it is the perfect start. "blessed be those who can do it" as they tell me every time those to whom I reccount what I did.

Do not take things for granted, do not be reckless, but do not think either that you are the real deal. If you go further away, this does not necessarily make the adventure more difficult; nowadays distance is as relative as time. I know some who missed home too much and went to the airport to wait for the first plane back, the next day they were here. It is not different to when you change school or you move house, they are new worlds, with their own rules and a sub-culture to which you must adapt yourself. Since I returned I travelled within the country EVERY weekend, to visit people that I knew there (Cordoba for Oktoberfest, Rosario, Misiones, etc... always alone); this weekend there is a meeting in Rosario, there will be 4 people from here, 5 from Cordoba, 3 from Mendoza, etc... friends for life. What I would recommend is, although it seems crazy, DO NOT THINK ABOUT IT, do not dwell on what might happen or not; there are dangers everywhere, but it is slightly about this. Over there everything is easier, and it is ideal as a first destination and to feel like you are going on a "great adventure". When you arrive and confront these mills which until now seemed gigantic, you find out that they are not... you find out that it is like life here... you adapt naturally, and value what you did when you return home. Over there you are going to find yourself so at home, life is so easy to lead, that you feel you haven´t faught against anything. You even come to remember THE CHALLENGE OF YOUR LIFE? If you want to work, you work. If you want a house, you have it. It is for enthusiastic people. They love it. I wouldn´t change a minute of my experience for anything. Just think... WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE LAST THREE MONTHS? Did they pass quickly? Are you going to remember them forever? Were they worth it?