Sunday, 23 October 2016

Happy Home, Happy Workplace and Happy Days!

By Marvin Seekoei

Moving into an apartment on the Workaway program with strangers can be a very stressful situation but as an 8 season veteran I just thought that I would like to share some of the tips that have worked very well for me over the seasons.

  1. Get to know your housemates and especially your room mate as soon as possible.

  1. First impressions always lasts so enter your home with a positive mind-set. Homesickness is real so try to be as polite as possible.

  1. The first few weeks can be very hard as some people will be missing home. Try to post everyone’s schedule up in the house weekly so that everyone can know each others work schedule to avoid that the other housemates don’t have a late nights at home with guests which could disturb that housemate’s sleeping pattern for the next working day.

  1. Try to have a petty cash for the house of minimum $20 per pay check to cover things like cleaning products, washing powder, toilet paper, milk, coffee etc. because there’s certain things you will always have to share.

  1. Try to have dinner once a week with your housemates and use it as an opportunity to keep a channel of communication open.

  1. Agree on a general cleaning schedule for the month as a clean house always causes less tension and irritation between housemates.

  1. Keep all bedrooms private and a no-go zone for any visitors and use communal areas only for guests.

If you follow these tips I can guarantee that you will have the best time of your life and make friendships that could last for a lifetime!

Thursday, 20 October 2016


By Nasiphi Sobahle

Finally, the time for departure is here.

Please allow me to take you back four months ago. Remember when you walked into Hotel 64 on Gordon for your first presentation? It was stage one of the recruiting process, and you were filled with all those hopes and dreams, and nerves. Some of you may have been too nervous to even see yourself reaching the last stage.

Niwakhe Magau is a successful Boca West candidate. When I asked her halfway through the selection process how she was feeling, she replied: “I am very excited and nervous at the same time. My visa interview is coming up and I get butterflies in my tummy every time I think about it but faith keeps me positive.”

Patience and faith are definitely prerequisites for every successful candidate. Those character traits got you through to the very last stages of the Workaway International recruitment process, as much as your professionalism and hospitality skills and experience.
Congratulations to every candidate who was granted a visa – what an exciting moment it is to receive that documentation and finally be assured you that you will be able to set foot in the USA.

Yes, it is happening. Enjoy the adventure. You’ve worked hard for it and you deserve it. Make the most of every opportunity, and make us, your families, and your country proud.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Not long to go, jetsetters!

By Melissa Chauvet

As departure dates get closer, it is difficult to stay calm. I recall packing and unpacking my cases weeks before I was due to leave. While time may seem to drag, it is just a couple of weeks to go. You have been so patient, you can manage another fortnight.  In the meantime, start getting your things together.

Many of you will have received notifications of your Visa appointment at the US embassy. Remember to dress as if you were attending a formal interview, which this is.

Pre-departure orientation is complete and while many applicants will be excited to be on their way, I remember being very nervous the first time I had this opportunity. There was so much to think about. If you have a few “butterflies” I want to put your mind at ease: while you might be a bit nervous, the anticipation and excitement will mount. Personally, once I realised that I was not alone but travelling with many others, my nerves subsided. Yours will too.

I have received positive feedback from various applicants on how helpful and professional head office is. Without their long hours and hard work none of this would be possible. They really guide you every step of the way.

Good luck to you all! I am so excited for you!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The time is now!

By Nasiphi Sobahle

Standing outside the Hilton Hotel – Durban on September 10 2016 (Saturday) and observing the Durban candidates walk in, in their numbers, with huge smiles on their faces certainly warmed my heart. I must admit that this sight took me back to the first time I attended a Workaway orientation in 2012, not knowing what to expect but I knew it was all good stuff and the most amazing part was suddenly realizing that the process is almost over and I will soon be in the United States of America.

… And it suddenly dawned on me and the rest of those who were present at the orientation that “The Time Is Now.”

The time to:

·       Begin with the Medical Evaluation process

·                                             Complete visa application forms
·                                             Prepare ourselves for our visa interviews at the US Consulate
·                                             But most importantly to meet the deadlines given.

With all the waiting that everyone has gone through, especially the new recruits who had no idea how long the entire process will take, things are looking much brighter and everyone is definitely chuffed that they will be embarking on an exciting professional venture soon and with all this being said…I am reminded that a wise man once wrote:

“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

New Season. New City

By Kelly Garcia

Labour Day has come and gone in the US, which means summer is officially over and I have no idea how to feel about it! I am sad that we no longer get to go to the lake as often but I am so excited for less humidity (even though Florida’s humidity will be killing me in about a month). My favourite things about winter in Chicago are the coats, boots, beanies and scarves!

With the season slowing down, we had a little more time off and we decided that a hike was just what we needed! Of course, the day we decide to head out, the temperature soared to 33 degrees (Celsius) and the humidity was crazy. Despite the heat the hike was great - fresh air, waterfalls, a lovely picnic, spiders and an obscene amount of stairs. While this resulted in lots of sweating, it was well worth it. The hiking trail was situated in a ‘ghost town’.  It had one street with old dilapidated buildings and we did not see a single soul - it was straight out of a horror movie.  It was definitely an exhilarating experience.

It is great to see how popular Nando’s has become in Chicago. Last season there was only one branch but there are now four in the city. It does not compare to the one at home, though. , We took some of our American and European colleagues there and made them try the peri-peri sauces.

To top off a great month I went to see Lauren Hill and Train at Ravinia. Train was so much fun and I screamed out “Drops of Jupiter” in the final performance – the perfect ending, in my opinion. Lauren Hill was AMAZING! She was a little late but when she eventually came on, she did not disappoint! The outfit she wore was a bit strange but she rocked it like the queen that she is. What made it even better was that I received two tickets closer to that stage from two women that left earlier.  I could not believe it - I guess I was in the right place at the right time. So our head chef and I ran inside the pavilion and got to see her up close and personal! She even sang “Doo Wop” – one of my favourites.

We only have about a month left in Chicago, the season went by way too fast but it was a great one. I got to be with my friends again and I made some awesome new ones. The rest of the season is going to be super slow so I am going to spend as much time with them as possible before our bitter farewell!

Monday, 5 September 2016

Your dreams are valid!!!

Nasiphi Sobahle

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” – Christopher Reeve

Too many times, we put our dreams off. We hesitate to seize opportunities such as that offered by Workaway International. Despite the fact that the South African youth are eager to travel, work and study abroad, many of us are held back by our lack of confidence – either concluding that such opportunities are too good to be true, or that we face too much competition.

If I can give my fellow South Africans one piece of advice, it is this: Your dreams are valid – you have to find the courage to follow them.

I can still recall how nervous I was when I embarked on the Workaway programme back in 2012. After all, the Tourism & Hospitality industry is competitive – it is imperative that one is well skilled, equipped with experience and groomed to the standards required by the industry. But I gathered my courage and grabbed the opportunity. Experience is such an advantage. I found my courage by  reminding myself that I had the experience and qualifications to contribute on an equal footing with the other candidates.

I am proud to say that I have never looked back since 2012, and I have learned so much in the seasons that I have completed. Hunters Run Golf Country Club has broadened my horizons, expanded my knowledge of the industry, and has groomed and equipped me with a bucket full of training.

I would like to personally congratulate every candidate who has been accepted by a country club thus far. I want to commend you for having the patience, because Workaway International takes pride in their work and their selection process. Celebrate that you have been accepted and continue having the positive attitude that has carried you through; you are going to need it for your visa interview.

What seemed impossible is now very possible. Do not give up; you are too close to the finishing line.

There is a lot of hard work ahead for you - but also so much fun! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Seize the dream!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Back to Florida!

By Melissa Chauvet

It seems as if it was yesterday that I returned home from Florida. I cannot believe that in just over a month I will be heading back for my third season at Mirasol Country Club.

During my time at home, I have had the opportunity to help recruit candidates for Workaway International. It has been challenging and hard at times, but I got to meet amazing people and made friends with a good few of them.

I am sure the candidates who made it through the selection process are extremely excited to be taking on a great new adventure. This is an opportunity of a lifetime. You will not regret it. One piece of advice I can give is to prepare to be a little homesick, especially when you are working long hours. When you feel it coming on, remind yourself that you are with an amazing group of people who are in the same boat as you. Those feelings will soon pass. That often helped me, as did reminding myself why I took the chance to travel and work in the US in the first place.

Like any other job, it definitely gets easier once you get the hang of things. And then there are the most amazing distractions for the home-sick. You get to explore Florida and see what the American lifestyle is all about. How cool is that? See you on the other side of the Atlantic soon!