Monday, 30 March 2020

That escalated quickly

Dylan Mavakla 

Just last month I was living my best life. I had the privilege of visiting Disney World, a place I could only dream of seeing. At least I can tick that off my bucket list. I could go to the beach, chill alongside the pool, try out new restaurants with friends and enjoy my freedom.  

Then the COVID-19 epidemic struck. Just like that, everything changed. Pools, beaches, and restaurants all closed. However, the saddest part was saying goodbye to some of the most amazing people that I have met on this programme. I know it has only been five months but during this time, I’ve managed to form some great bonds. It all just happened way too soon.

Luckily, my Country club is still open. We are busy with a delivery operation and doing what we can to make it through this. Other Country clubs have unfortunately closed and had to let employees go. 

Before all this happened, I had gone for an interview for a Country club up north and I landed the job. I am so blessed that they still have a job for me. Other Country clubs up north had to closed and terminate contracts. 

I believe that everything happens for a reason and it will all get better. 

Stay safe out there. 

Instagram handle: @dylan_mavakla

Monday, 23 March 2020

Workaway International kick-started my career!

Q&A with past participant, Paul Stoner

We recently got in touch with one of our past participants, Paul Stoner. He started the Workaway International programme in 2008/2009 and worked in the golf department at Boca West.  Since working on the programme, Paul has been appointed as the General Manager at Clovelly Country Club in Cape Town! Paul is proof that hard work pays off. Here is what he had to say:

1. What was your motivation for joining the programme?
I finished my schooling and was unsure of what I wanted to study. My best friend’s aunt and uncle had gone on the Workaway International programme in 2004 and recommended that we give it a try. We had a look at the website and our minds were made up. Next thing we knew, we were on a flight to the USA.

2. Can you elaborate on your career journey - (i.e. what was your first position and how has your career grown from there)?
I started my Workaway International journey in 2008/2009 at Boca West Country Club. I was a marshal across 4 golf courses, however from time to time we job swopped and I assisted with starting the fields of players, parking golf carts and even worked on the driving range. 

After returning to South Africa, I was still unsure about what I wanted to do with my career. I wanted to study, so I went on to earning my BComm and Honours through UNISA while tutoring for additional income. 

Once the tutoring ended, I sent my CV to a few prestigious country clubs in Cape Town, including Clovelly Country Club, Steenberg Golf Club, and Westlake Golf Club to see if I could get back into the industry. 

Steenberg was the first to respond, and I began working in the Pro Shop in 2011, before progressing to Assistant Golf Director in 2014. I held this position for 2 years before moving to the Clovelly Country Club, and the rest is history. I am now completing my Certified Club Managers certification through CMAA.

3. What was your favourite part about being in the USA? 
I loved being in Florida. There were so many great opportunities nearby. We had day trips to Miami, visited amazing theme parks, took trips to Key West and even trips to the Bahamas. There was always a new experience waiting around the corner.

4. What was the most challenging part of your job? 
Being able to address older clients in a firm, yet professional manner was challenging. Managing members, guests and staff's expectations was also tricky. It was my job to ensure that everyone who interacted with the club had their needs satisfied and that their experience was memorable.

5. What is the most common misconception about working abroad?
A common misconception is that you will feel lonely as you do not have an established network, family or support system in the USA.  This couldn’t be further from the truth! From the moment you interact with the Workaway International team, they provide support from the interview through to departing and are there for you throughout the season. Meeting fellow South Africans on the programme also helped. 

6.    What impact has the Workaway International programme had on your career? 
The experience I gained on the Workaway International programme has had a massive impact on my career. It directed me to my current career path. Without this kick start and experience at such a prestigious country club, I may not have pursued this industry.

7.    If you could redo anything about your time in the USA, what would it be? 
I would have stayed longer and applied for the summer season up north.

8. What advice do you have for future applicants? 
Whether you are finishing school or at a crossroads in your career, the Workaway International programme provides applicants with an awesome opportunity to grow and learn. You get to network with people from all over the world and experience working in a world-renowned establishment. You should not be afraid to take a risk and step out of your comfort zone!

Wednesday, 18 March 2020


By Sonia Marques

Travelling across the world has definitely taught me a lot about life. Some lessons have been tough however, it has helped me grow as a person and will be carried with me for the rest of my life.

When I reminisce about my first season in 2016, I cannot believe how quickly time has gone. I have made so many amazing friends and memories through my travelling experience and simply by taking a step out of my comfort zone.

I will admit that there are many days where I feel homesick but having great friends and keeping myself busy really helps me get through it. It is important to remember that we have been given such an amazing opportunity to work and live abroad that we must make every moment count.

Today, I have the day off and myself and six friends decided to take a short drive to Key Biscayne. We spent the day on the beautiful island which ended with a spectacular sunset dinner overlooking the skyline. It is days like these that makes all the hard work worthwhile.

In life there are many choices to make with many different paths to take. Sometimes we are unsure of which one to follow however, the beauty of it all is that whichever path you choose, it will lead you to where you are supposed to be. So, you might as well enjoy the journey along the way!

“Travel is rich with learning opportunities and the ultimate souvenir is a broader perspective.” ~ Rick Steves

With Love,

Friday, 13 March 2020

Winding Down

By Tara Clampett

It is time to start finalizing our end of season plans. While many of us are excited about starting a new adventure up north, there are also those who really miss home and cannot wait to go back to their family and friends.

Throughout the season, we all go through highs and lows and my best advice is to keep yourself busy - and not only by working! As we have less than 3 months left before the season ends, it is the perfect time to plan a trip and take some time off. From trips to the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, New York City to local adventures such as Miami Heat games or day trips to Miami Beach. There is an abundancy of things to do and believe me, before you know it the season will be over, and you do not want to regret not making time for yourself!

I have been extremely blessed over the past few months with family to coming to visit me in the USA for the first time!

It has always been a dream of mine for my mom to visit me in Florida and this season my dream came true. It was her first time travelling to the USA and she absolutely loved everything about my home away from home!

Seeing her enjoy all the little things that Florida has to offer, made me realize how lucky I am to be here. Often, we get so caught up in the day to day routine, we forget to take a step back and appreciate that we have this amazing opportunity to be working and living in the USA. I never thought the day would come that I would be walking down Ocean Drive and South Beach with my mom and I am forever grateful to everyone who helped make this happen!

My school friend whom I last saw in 2015, visited Miami. I met up with her for a weekend and we had an amazing catch up session over Cuban food and cocktails in Espanola Way. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday and reminisce about life and reflect on how we have grown. She has also been working abroad for a few years on the Superyachts and although our ways of life are very different, we shared a common view that our experience of living abroad has changed us in ways that we never dreamt were possible.

So, here is to making the most of the next few months and enjoying the time we have with each other in sunny Florida!

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Time to travel

By Nondumiso Sibanda

I cannot believe it is already February! Spring is about to begin, and season is starting to slow down. With two months left until the season ends, everybody is preparing to go up north for the summer season or they are preparing to return home. Those going up north have already done their interviews with Workaway International and know exactly where they are going. I have been fortunate enough to be accepted at a golf club in North Carolina. I am so excited, and l cannot wait for my next adventure.

Presidential week has come and gone, which is one of the busiest times at the country club, and I can safely say it is time to relax, rest and explore.

It is also tax season. I do my own taxes on an app called Turbo Tax which is very easy to use. I would strongly recommend this to future participants.

On my bucket list this season, I would like to go to Universal Studios in Orlando, Fury Key West Parasailing and to Miami beach. I fell in love with Key West, so l am definitely going back. I am hoping to get through half my bucket list before the Easter weekend. Wish me luck!

 “Take only memories, leave only footprints” - Chief Seattle.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Beautiful days and magical nights

By Zander Fritz

The more time I spend in USA, the more I get to witness how beautiful Florida can be. Let me explain; Florida has a tropical climate, so that means a lot of heat, rain and humidity. Your day can start nice and sunny and in an hours’ time there will be a downpour of rain that will completely dry up before you leave for work. However, with this unpredictable weather comes some magical moments that you would normally only read about in books. Night times have the perfect weather balance, but it is not to be outdone by the spectacular sun and rain combination that the daytime has to offer.

I recently went on a quest to find the best ice cream in the USA. My first stop was to McDonalds. I ordered a McFlurry with triple extra Oreo and triple extra chocolate sauce. Yes, you read that correctly! In America it is possible to order extras for your McFlurry which could cost up to $5 but it is worth every cent.

Next on my list was to try Walmart’s ice cream. I bought 6 different flavour ice cream tubs.
Some people thought I was crazy, but this was an experiment, so I was okay with that. Unfortunately, after a week of eating a tub of ice cream a night, it is safe to say that I am completely useless at deciding what the best flavour is. Instead, I chose my favourite brand which is Häagen-Dazs. Their ice creams are pricy, but it cures any feeling of being home sick.

To combat all the ice cream that I have been eating, I have also done a good amount of running, and yes, the locals all stare at me because I am the only person running in the heat and humidity - but I guess I am a little crazy!

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Make as many memories as you can

By Dylan Mavakla

As I sit here today, I cannot begin to put all my amazing experiences into words. Every day I have learnt something new. However, one thing is for sure, this was the best decision I could have ever made.

The Workaway International experience is definitely challenging and requires a lot of hard work, but that is what makes it all worth it. I like to be optimistic, so even though there were some frustrating and emotional days, I still managed to get through it and enjoy my time in the USA.

Everything that I have learnt so far, has taught me so much. From the training process, getting to see my family and spending Christmas with them. I also got to see world-class fireworks for the first time.  I loved being able to explore America and be a tourist. Everything still feels so unreal.

I live by this proverb: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All play and no work makes Jake a mere toy”.  For me personally, finding that balance is extremely important. Putting in the hard work definitely pays off when I get to do some site seeing. The whole experience has been such a blessing.