Wednesday, 14 December 2011
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
The time came for me to start packing and deciding what would I really need to take with me to the USA. I spent two day sorting through my clothes packing for summer weather even though it is winter in Florida; the weather is very much like the humid heat of Durban.
The day finally arrived to take the long 30-hour journey to Florida. First leg was from Cape Town to Johannesburg with a 6-hour layover. I then met up with a group of participants from Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. The excitement was brewing amongst us, but having done this trip many time before I knew that there still was a grueling 17-hour flight to New York.
After arriving at a very busy JFK, we made our way through immigration and customs to board the next flight to Ft. Lauderdale. It was a very chilly morning in New York with the skyline of Manhattan visible in the distance. Upon our flight to Florida we flew over Manhattan with the Statue of Liberty welcoming all to her shores.
After the long trip we finally arrived at our final destination and made our way to the apartments. What a relief to finally put my suitcases down and settle in.
The jet lag was a killer for the first few day with being exhausted by 9pm and wide awake at 5am. Getting up early gave me a chance to catch up on the news; well American news as there is very little focus on what is going on in the rest of the world unless it involves America.
The first 3 weeks at Addison Reserve have been hard work, but amazing at the same time. The club has just completed a $17 million dollar expansion and renovation with almost everything being replaced for new. A lot of time has been spent getting the club setup and training done for the restaurants. We’ve had a few soft opening allowing us all to go through the motions and fine-tune the details before opening the doors to the membership last week.
This past weekend we had the Opening Gala on both Friday and Saturday night. This involved a major setup and breakdown with us all working very hard. It was well worth the hard work after the positive response from all the membership.
I haven’t had much time to explore my new surrounding, but will definitely be making time in the New Year once we are in the swing of things.
Returning to the US and embarking on this new venture at Addison Reserve has been a great experience. I think I may have found a new home.
Author: Andre Smith
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
Having fun means so many different things to me, as it does to a lot of people.
To me it means the simple things in life - being with my friends, having a chat with family back home, even being on the phone with your "China" friend and still playing our "low blow game" and as usual she wins :)
Meeting new people in the oddest ways, picking something up off the floor, throwing it away only to realise the next day what it was and what you needed it for... Sitting by the pool with a friend, or even on the bus with all your mates laughing and joking... Simply things = having fun :)
There is always a bright side to life, you just have to find it. When you do, not only does life become more fun, but you learn to laugh at the simple things. You learn to take what life throws at you (Lemon = Tequila and Salt!!!) and you learn to smile. Here at Boca West, where I am working, they call it the "Boca Smile" and it has to be worn every day and is our most important work tool, and I agree, it really is, and when you learn that a smile never hurt anyone, you learn that life is more happy and fun :)
I was about to through away a stale box of cereal the other day, and as I lifted it I heard a "different" kind of noise when I shook the box. I opened it to reveal my friends had put a bunch of bottle caps in my stale cereal box. I burst out laughing and sent them the picture. As it goes it was even funnier as they had forgotten all about it.
Just another small thing making life fun :)
Author: Michelle Lowe
Sunday, 27 November 2011
From 2 am shopping at Wallmart, to meeting bus drivers, to taking 6 buses just to get to one shop....
We have had an epic adventure and it just started now. It's amazing
We recently went to Pompano Beach, that's our local beach, quite late one night and it was phenomenal. We didn't do anything wild or exotic, all we did was dig our toes into the sand and we enjoyed being alive and in this remarkable place that we find ourselves in.
As per usual, countless people do not believe that we are from South Africa, because how could we be? Haha, educated people that speak English? Never.
The one day a lady in Publix asked us if South Africa was in Australia....Not quite, Ma'am, but thank you anyway.
The weather here is great if you like humid sticky heat, but it cools down nicely at night and we do get a few driplets of rain every few days.
Thanks Giving was a fun experience. At the Onyx Bar, where I work, we all went around the table at lunch and said what we were thankful for, over huge pieces of turkey....wow..
We're at home right here.
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Landed in Johannesburg …. Now for the 7 hour wait in the airport.
Met up with André from Cape Town and a few of the other participants flying out on the same flight to the USA. Everyone seeming very excited!
21H40 has arrived and off we go, 15 hours and 50 minutes till we set foot in New York International (JFK) Airport…
Now, passport control - check, collect luggage – check, bags rechecked – check. Now for something to eat, and then, e-mail everyone at home to say “Safe in New York” while we wait to board our flight to Florida :-)
Landing in Fort Lauderdale… exhausted yet so excited!!!!! We are here and the adventure begins!
Monday, 21 November 2011
We were excited that on Daniel's birthday, we found out that we were accepted into the Workaway program.( then we had a crazy surprise birthday party that Roxi organised for me. Thanx babe) Then we had to wait forever to recieve our petition number. Since the unemployment rate spiked in the USA, all the country clubs had to offer the available jobs to the Americans first - which is understandable.
Then on MY birthday, Workaway called us to say the petition was signed and that we may
start making our visa appointments.(Roxi was actually pretty grumpy that day but she got happy later.:)I was at the consulate just a few days later. For me, this was a really stressful thing. I was having to take rescue tablets the day before, the day of my appointment, and Daniel's visa appointment was the day after mine, and I was still gulping down the rescue. I like to blame it on happiness and being excited not scared and anxious. Anyway, the consulate appointment was about 30 seconds long, done individually and they tell you immediately afterwards that your visa
is approved. So I was so relieved when the consulate officer behind the glass window gave me my receipt to collect my visa the next day! The next day was Daniel's turn at the consulate. I think the consulate officer must have been getting accustomed to all the Workaway applicants, because there were about 7 people from Workaway there with Daniel, and the officer who does the interview called the first girl, then the second, and then got over it, and called in all 5 of the remaining applicants at the same time and did a group interview. (he really struggled pronouncing my surname so we just called each other sir the whole time) And they all got their visa's approved! YAY! (WOOP!)
We then had 8 days to start organizing our clothes, and saying goodbye to family. Daniel's family lives 1:45 hours away, so we went to Greytown to say goodbye to them. Came home and had our fare well party (EISH), and then got packing. Of course I had been packing slowly for the last 3 weeks, but it only took Daniel a few hours! The day we went to go collect Daniel's visa, it was a Thursday. I drove past the consulate, Daniel ran in to collect while I drove around the block, 17 times, and picked him up again.
Let me see your visa!!
I don’t have it.
Okay, ummm, why?
It is a public holiday in America today.
Its a public holiday tomorrow too.
But, but we leaving tomorrow. (white face) When are we... How are we... But then...I was speechless! Then Daniel takes the visa out and shows it to me!
Friday came, the excitement reached boiling point! We arrived at the airport and crossed through
those dramatic boarding gates, where our families were waving through the glass
windows and our mothers were crying bucketfuls of tears.
The journey has began!
A 1 hour flight to Johannesburg from Durban. A 6 hour wait at the airport. A 15 hour flight to JFK. (let me just warn you now that if you have limbs, representing legs, that the seats are a tight
squeeze so when u checking in find out if you can change seats to one that has a vacant seat next to you.) A 8 hour wait at the airport.A 4 hour flight into Fort Lauderdale(you get blue chips on this flight, they're actually blue in colour). And when those wheels of the plane hit the ground, we could not have been happier!
A Workaway representative met us at the airport at 6pm USA time, we got our luggage, we jumped on a bus and drove to Boca Raton (which according to the American sitting next to us on the plane, means "mouth of the rat") The driver took us to Walmart! We had 20 mins to
shop for food for the next three days. Not so easy when the shop is the size of a small island. And you don’t know what you looking at or what you looking for!
So we got eggs and bread, the all-time die-hard. We were then dropped off at our apartments, which are really really nice, and spacious, and the beds are so welcoming!
PLOP, we were passed out before we knew it! (I was out, Roxi was trying to make the place all pretty before bed, don’t ask me cuz i dunno)
Tuesday, 8 November 2011
A lot has happened since I wrote my last blog for the website… We received the approval s for the visa applications which meant the we went into full gear to get everyone to sign and submit their visa applications and prepare for their departures to a new adventure in the USA.
It’s been quite hectic, but exciting as well seeing all the hard work from the last few months come to fruition with the participants going to the consulate for the visa appointments, which has been very nerve-wrecking for all. For many it has been a success story and for few, some have not been so lucky, which is just unfortunate because everyone deserves the opportunity to experience another culture.
A lot of the participants have already flown to the US and started the season. It’s great to see the Facebook updates with everyone’s experiences of flying and settling in. For some it has been the first time they have ever flown. A long way to travel for ones first time, but there is no better way for the travel experience to fly half way across the world. No fear… because your travel instinct (which you don’t know you have) automatically kicks in when you board the flight.
I too decided a few weeks ago to travel again to the US for a different experience. For many seasons I have been fortunate to live in Palm Beach and work for Admirals Cove, but will now take on a new experience at Addison Reserve in Delray Beach. I am VERY excited and can’t wait to go. Luckily, I will have a good support structure with Michelle and Lucille from Workaway joining me there for the season.
I have one more hurdle to pass in getting my visa (nerves) and then hopefully jetting off to the US within the next two weeks. A benefit is that I will for the first time in many years be here in South Africa to celebrate my birthday with friends and family.
So lets hold thumbs that my visa application is successful and I will be joining you in the US of A. Looking forward to seeing everyone at the Workaway Party!!
Tuesday, 1 November 2011
There are so many emotions that go through your head at that time, I had to take a few minutes to just think that I will be going back “home” well lets just say my second home!!! You start thinking about, what you need to pack, when you need to start... Its so exciting knowing that I will be back very soon but also very stressful knowing that I will be leaving my friends and family in SA but on the other hand I have got such great friends in the US too...
Its going to be hard to leave again because there is so many things I enjoyed while i have been back like peri peri sauce, Simba chips, boerewors... the list goes on, but I will make sure that there are a few things I will be packing in my bag.
15 days it is... I have so much to look forward to when I get back...I did not think I would ever say this but I miss the work in the US, its just so much fun working with all the good people that work at Sailfish!!!!
Well done to all that have got their visas and good luck to the ones that will be going in the weeks to come...Its the last step then you can say its OFFICIAL you will be jetting off on the most amazing experience of your life.
See you all soon....
Wednesday, 26 October 2011
So I found out that I'll be leaving earlier than expected, which I'm really excited for, but also really stressed about at the same time. In all my excitement, I suddenly realized that I haven't started getting ready. I have so much to do in so little time.
Most importantly my BLACK socks... Yes, something so small and silly, but trust me, when you are working a 19 hour shift and your feet are killing you, something as simple as socks could make you feel better. So try to get a couple of good quality long black socks.
2nd thing to pop in my mind was my favorite food. If you like Aromat, take a couple with you; and also something as simple as Rooibos tea, even if you don't drink tea now, in 2 months, you will be craving it. :)
3rd thing I thought of was ... *Ping* "Hey Mich, what you doing tonight?"
Scratch that thought, I need to see all my friends...
In a huge panic I rushed to the calendar and counted my sleeps I have left.
*13 sleeps* Mission Impossible commence... In a matter of hours I had planned out my last days in SA. :)
Mom: "What time are you coming into work after deliveries tomorrow?"
Oh my word, I forgot I still have work...
Dad: "So when is your Visa appointment?"
Ahhh... Dam, I forgot about that too!!!
Basically I had to re-plan everything... As we all know, work comes first.
So I've seen a couple of friends already and said my goodbyes to them. A lot are busy with exams, and I wish them all the best, but have to thank them for making an effort to see me instead of studying. Naughty children ;)
One week left before I leave and I only finish work on Wednesday - so sad :( But I'm going away with friends and family the weekend before I leave, and I'm super excited about that. :)
Today was especially good as three of my friends came over with pizza :) We just chilled and relaxed and spoke about rubbish :) It's also days like today that I'm gonna miss the most, because although you will make friends, there is nothing like a friend that can understand you and have a whole conversation with you in a matter of a facial expression :)
I know I have my "family" of friends I made last season waiting for me, and I'm so excited to make new friends when I get back there. But there is nothing as hard as saying goodbye to your friends and family on your home side.
Take tissues to the airport, also maybe a little mascara to touch up :) Lastly, a lesson my parents always taught me, is don't forget to tell those you love, that you love them. :) I love you guys :)
Congratulations to those who have already received their VISAs, by now I know you are probably nervous and not sure what to expect, but buckle up and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime. If this is your first season and you are like how I was, excited and anal, I am sure you have already started to put things aside to take with you, there are a few things that I would like to mention to you, as I know that I would have been grateful if someone had mentioned these to me while I was packing:
1. Try your best to only take one suitcase with you. I know that the allowance is two, but if you enjoy shopping and you don’t want to eventually throw away the majority of the clothes you are taking, then trust me, take a maximum of two weeks’ worth of clothes with you, you will buy new things straight away and you will be wearing your uniform most of the time.
2. If you are like me and you love your aerosol cans of deodorant or antiperspirant, buy a whole bunch and shove them in your check in luggage. For some unknown reason (and probably due to global warming or something) America doesn’t have spray antiperspirant. If you are a speed stick kind of person, you will be okay. Remember not to pack any perfumes or aerosol cans in your hand luggage, if you do, they will be confiscated.
3. Don’t waste your time packing your hairdryer. America uses a different voltage system to us and unless you have a fancy, expensive hairdryer, I doubt that it has a built in converter. They are cheap over there, you can get a lekker, colourful one for $20 and it works like a charm. If you have a GHD on the other hand, that has a built in converter and it will perfectly, all you will need to buy is an adapter which is usually around $9.
4. Buy your urgent toiletries at home and take them with you, such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo and a sponge. After a long flight and you only landing there in the afternoon, the last thing that you want to do is have to run to the shop just so that you can have a decent shower and using your Rands to buy those products works out to be a little more expensive.
5. If your check in luggage means something to you and you don’t want your bags ruined, I suggest getting them cling wrapped at the airport or even wrap them yourself at home, it seems expensive at R50 a pop, but consider it an investment because by the time you collect your bags in your designated city, you will find that you might have some tares, scuff marks or even a broken zip (this can also help restrict anyone breaking into your bag).
6. Avoid wearing a lot of jewelry, belts or shoes that are difficult to take on and off. Just like in the movies, when you go through security in the US, you have to take off all of your jewelry, take off your belt, take off your shoes and empty your pockets. It becomes very tiring and frustrating taking these things on and off and you don’t want to forget anything on the conveyer belt.
7. Take one of those airplane pillows with you, or even one from your bed, the airlines do allow you to carry one and they make things a hell of a lot more comfortable and easier to sleep with. If you are a difficult sleeper taking sleeping tablets because if you get no sleep during that 18 hour flight, you are going to be miserable when you land in the USA!That’s seems to be all I can think of for now, have a safe flight and I will see you all on the otherside!
You know, I love airports, but the one in Durban is my favourite. I love how they are full of possibility and promise, of stories and heart breaks, of reunions and happiness.
The first time I was on a plane was on the way to Durban for camp. Oh my I was so nervous I could barely get the seat belt fastened. I remember I was going with a bunch of campers and Tink thought it would be fun for me. Haha, wow that was ages ago. Every single plane trip I've ever been on has been between camp and home...
This one trip, from OR Tambo to camp was awful. Oh my gosh I was so paranoid, my heart was racing and I was so nervous. Why was I nervous? I had flown a bunch of times before, I'd been in and out of King Shaka countless times. The difference is King Shaka is small and airy and welcoming, OR Tambo is big, noisy and so scary
And I was only in the domestic departures terminal!
Seems silly to me that I would be scared by something as trivial as a large building filled with people when I make a living surrounded by hundreds of screaming happy children....I think it comes down to the unknown really.
When you're on your way your way to the airport you're happy and excited, surrounded by people who love you. Then you stand at the counter, and I'm always just a little stressed in case my bag is over weight - which it always is - then the nice attendant hands you your ticket and everything is still hunky dory.
But then....you walk though those gates...the gates that only ticket holders can go though, and goodbyes need to be said and hugs are exchange...you slowly walk though, carrying your small luggage, hand bag, book, other book, lap top case and you need to go through the metal detector.
I always secretly worry a bit when I go through those metal detectors, will my earrings set it off? Will my belt? Shoes?
Yes! made it through the metal detector without any hassles. Repack my lap top, shove various items in my pockets so that I can move out of the way of the person behind me...and then it hits me. I'm all alone.
That's when the adventure really begins I think. Then this small excitement starts to form, I hope I get the window seat, I hope I sit next to someone nice and mostly, I hope that the weather is nice so that the view will be great.
I remember a while ago I was on a plane to Durban with 3 teenage girls and we hit a patch of turbulence. The girls screeched but I kind of enjoyed the feeling, sort of like a roller coaster....
I really love airports though, I love the dorky pictures that we always land up taking, I love the promise and hope, the excitement in the air....I can’t wait till the 1st.
Friday, 21 October 2011
My name is Mike and I am many things. I am proud to say that one of those things is a writer. I love writing, and I love having people read what I write. I do believe, however, that your typical and common ways of getting your voice "out there" in the past, be it journalism, publishing your own books, or merely writing a poem, seem to becoming more of a minority in this ever changing world we live in, with blogging gaining much popularity, with it being one of the easiest forms of being heard. I personally think people are just getting lazier. Now you don't even have to leave your room, you can wake up, order groceries, see all your friends in a conference video chat, and read up on everyday news, all from the comfort of your own home. Which is great in its own unique way, but it just seems to be lacking that sense of exploration.
The focus of this blog will be my travels, experiences, hardships and just general good times that I have on my trip to the United States. I love meeting new people, travelling around the world, experiencing things which I probably didn't even comprehend existed until I actually had my eyes opened to them. Different cultures and societies intrigue me. I am imminently awaiting the go-ahead for an 6 month work trip, which will undoubtedly be amazing.It will be the first time I've visited the United States since I was a wee little boy, and now, doing it years later by myself, is really kind of exhilarating and nerve racking at the same time. Having recently gotten a call just this afternoon, I will be signing and submitting my forms this evening and hopefully sorting out all the payments for my interview which should be relatively soon. My pathologist, radiologist and GP appointments all went well - as expected, and were actually very easy, quick and smooth. Each day that passes by is a day closer to experiencing life and culture in Florida, and I cannot wait to meet everyone who I will be spending the next half a year with, at the BallenIsles Club. I'm sure it will be an experience and opportunity of a lifetime, much like any travelling is! Maybe if I'm lucky I will be able to attend another Film Festival, much like the one I attended in London last year during my travels (see picture!)
Anyway, I should probably get on with the process, I've been told everything happens very quickly here on in.
Good luck to everyone else during the interview process! Cheers!
Monday, 17 October 2011
So, you are all excited to be leaving for the USA, right? But let me just remind you why I come back every year.
“Mrs. Balls” (moment, sigh)……….. ouma rusks, rooibos tea, all gold tomato sauce, nik naks, Simba chips, real coca cola, Milo, Albany chocolate, kettles (giggle, you will understand when you get there), Rugby, cricket (and I’m not referring to a insect)….
Only South Africans know how to braai, gooi a sokkie and mix their languages and everyone still understands…
Ja nee, it is lekker hey iesh…
Because soon you will be on a plane heading to the USA, where a barbeque is a means of preparing hamburgers without big flames wearing an apron and “half & half” is a term used daily by most Americans… Where cream soda is brown and the fuel station can’t supply your vehicle with “Petrol” but gas… and everything is BIGGER… just like the movies…
Tuesday, 11 October 2011
I found Workaway International through an old school college of mine and Daniel and I was very interested in attending the presentation. After which we had to stand in a long queue to fill out application forms to get into the program. Daniel hates queues, but I insisted we stay… (best decision of my life…I hope!) A few hours later and after Daniel practiced all the patience I’ve taught him, we were out of the ‘patience-mode’ and into ‘anticipation-mode’
‘Anticipation-mode’ thankfully didn’t last long, because just a short few days later, we were in a meeting with Lucille. And I presume that went well due to our sms soon thereafter confirming us into the recruitment part of the program. Our next step was to attend our next interview with the representatives from the Country Clubs in Florida. That interview required a smartly dressed Daniel, with a tie. That didn’t go down so well with him, but after my fluttering lashes and persuasive smile, it was on and we were ready to ‘knock their socks off’, which we did oh so well! Our individual interview was with a lady from Boca West, her name was Darleen. How more American can you get, especially when she said her name with the perfect Southern (I think) accent! I think the success of our interview was that we made her laugh. Just because Daniel had a suit on, and I had heels on, did not mean to say we had to be all professional. We were just ourselves…smartly dressed.
Then there was the ‘eagerness – mode’ we had to endure, waiting to find out if the club would accept us into the program and which club we were going. Rumour had it that Boca West is the best of the best, so we were holding thumbs for that!
It was Daniel’s birthday on the 5th August. I decided to throw him a superhero surprise party, I rented myself a tinkerbell outfit (ok, so it’s not a super hero, but she did make Peter Pan fly…and it was super cute!) There was a lot of excitement in the air for me, and then at 5pm "The” phone call came. WE WERE ACCEPTED INTO BOCA WEST AND WE WERE ECSTATIC!!!!!!!
Friday, 7 October 2011
Finally I have received good news about my petition... unlike the rest of you who were all celebrating over a week ago, myself and a few others only find out today that our petitions have been granted, we can now join in the celebration and start preparing to leave within the next month. These last few weeks that you have left are going to fly by. Before you know it you are going to be sitting on that plane with butterflies in your stomachs, a cramp in your butt from the long flight and your mind racing as are not too sure what to expect – but trust me, it is all worth it.
Myself and my friend Kaycee raced off to go and get the first half of our medicals done, it was unfortunate that it was such a miserable day with the rain and the cold wind, but we held our heads high as nothing was going to dampen our spirits now that we have received such good news. We endured 6 flights of stairs as the elevators were down, prodding needles into our arms, no parking anywhere near the medical center and practicing holding our breath while butt naked – good times, but at least we are one step closer!Good luck to all of you will your consulate interviews!
Monday, 3 October 2011
Just kidding, I am finally 21 and legal in the States this time around. My moto would be, work hard, party harder. I have green eyes and blah blah blah :)
I'm going "back", I'm going "back", tell the world I'm going "back"...
This is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of the fact I'm ACTUALY going back to the states for another season. Why this song, and why change the lyrics? Well my friends I made last season will know exactly why... You see, it was our "going home" song (literally - it played b4 we left lol) last season, I couldn't wait to get home. Now I find myself desperately but patiently waiting to go back...
For those of you who are going for your first season you will come to understand what I mean. Yes it is hard and there are times you just want to quit, me, I cried for the first 3 months... :) but then you start to really enjoy yourself and before you know it, its time to be "going home".
Make the best out of your time there, enjoy every minute, make friends with everyone, because you never know what an impact someone may have on your life. I got a nickname while I was over my first season... "POLLY", yes polly the parrot because I had a blonde moment but besides that it was given to me by someone I was at first hesitant to become friends with, because he was a returner, and yes returners have RANK, lol. But besides that, we became friends and he gives the best advice ever, when you down in a rut, he will pull you out, when your head is getting to big, he would pop it, basically he would tell you how it is and now, being back home and back in the "real" world I have often used his advice, and it keeps me on track, and I know I can always pick up the phone and he will give a "daughter" ;) some advice.
I also got a "mommy" while I was there and even some "sisters" and very naughty "brothers", very weird and crazy people, but people I had a blast with, people that became my "american family", and when your sad or upset they are there for you, when you "frekkie" and lost, they laugh at you, tease you and record you :D, but they are always there for you.
So go out there, make the best of your adventure. As our very own famous KC would say... Live, Laugh, Love and never forget to just...
Author: Michelle Lowe
Just this week I have 3 doctor appointments, then I'm off to Durban for a few days, then I'm back then then then then then then.......
I know that there is still a lot of time before I leave, but wow it feels like I don't have enough time to do everything that I need to get done before departure. At this point in my life everything is scheduled.
From Docors to visits with friends and this is even before my Visa appointment, which they tell you isn't that scary but believe me - it kind of is.
I was looking at pictures of the club, Boca West, that I'm going to and its so pretty. It almost doesn't look real.
During our pre-departure orientation meeting Charlotte said that as soon as our petition was approved everything would happen really quickly...wow she was right.
There's also packing...which I think is causing unnecessary stress for me....because I know that I'm going to shop over there, and I just really don't know what to take. Besides clothes, that's quite easy. I mean what STUFF am I going to take? and which shoes?
Goodness....while writing this I have a picture of Dali's clocks in my head...all the time melting together and not being real...I really do wonder if I'm the only one who is stressing this much..
Hey but people say opportunity is what happens when you grab luck and run with it. Well we sure are running aren't we?
Well, it's now my scheduled time to sleep, because I have to call doctors again tomorrow.
Till then. Peace, light and love
A very big hello to everyone….. Feels like weeks since my last blog, so let’s get you up to date with what is happening.
Orientation was held in Johannesburg on Sunday, 18th September and it was so exciting to see the final selection for this 2011/12 season. Charlotte flew up from Cape Town to hold the orientation and the boys where there on their places, doing a phenomenal job as always. Everyone seemed so excited! Charlotte had explained the then current situation regarding the visas and yet everyone seemed to just be so positive. Which I can add, paid off in the end…
Off to Durban…
…. Charlotte arriving in Durban and we had not received our boxes with the well known “red packs” in. It was time to improvise. The girls getting stuck in and helping arrange, from tape measures to name tags to club posters, all was done in no time and orientation could start...
…what a great vibe in the air. Returners and new participants in such high spirit and full of laughter, many of them sharing a deep, from the gut laugh; the kind that makes your eyes water and leaves you gasping for breath. Which I without a doubt know, many returners have shared a number of times in the past, building great memories…
Makes one think of how life would be without laughter?
And like Murphy’s Law the last participant leaves and here our boxes arrive. Thanks to the loyal staff in our Cape Town office, the ‘red packs” made their way to everyone the very next day…
So here we sit with our red packs waiting for the sms, and in just a matter of a few days we got it! Yipppppeeeeeee……….. Time for visa forms and medicals.
Visa form DS 160 completed and e-mailed, check.
Next on list is visit to GP… and I must add I’m getting super excited!
So I’m off to the GP and will leave you all with food for thought – God certainly knew how important laughter would be for us. Just think of all the things He made that bring us to that point, from the antics of kittens to the wit of gifted humorists, He gives us daily chances to shift or focus from ourselves and just enjoy one another and the wonderful world He gave us. Go ahead, laugh … it’s good for you.
Over the past few weeks Spring has crept into the Mother City with the warm days and evenings and the green on the trees. Last weekend the weather couldn’t have been better.
Saturday it was off to Port Elizabeth to host the Orientation for the participants from that area. It was great to spend time with all the returners and the newbie’s, who for most would be their first time oversees. The returners did a great job of sharing their experiences with the first-timers and making everyone excited for the trip.
Waiting at the PE airport, Charlotte contacted me to confirm that the petitions were in the process of approval and we can start to prepare everyone for their visa appointments. Exciting news as we were all holding our breaths waiting for the final nod from the US government
On the flight back I realized what this meant… We are going to be VERY busy to prepare everyone over the next few weeks. I took the time to relax and look over the South African landscape, reminding me of what a beautiful country we stay in.
Sunday was a clear crisp day, which was perfect to explore Cape Town. A good friend and I with his son and his friend decided to take the Cable Car up Table Mountain as it had been years since we had both done it and for the boys it was their first experience.
WOW! What a spectacle! There were many jaw dropping moments with views that stretched as far as the eye could see. Amazing! One a side note, I would also like to mention that I suffer from vertigo; strange considering that I am almost 7ft tall. So it was quite an accomplishment for me to take this trip. HAHA! Another cool factor was that there were people from all parts of the world that had come to be there that day and experience what is on our doorstep everyday.
This experience reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: “The passing moment is all that we can be sure of; it is only common sense to extract its utmost value from it... “ - W. Somerset Maugham
Thursday, 29 September 2011
Before the scramble....
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not going to the States because I don't like my country, I LOVE South Africa. We have the best of everything, but an andventure like this could not possibly have been passed up by someone like me.
So shall I introduce myself?
Hi, my is Melissa and I'm here to give you my own colourful view of my transition from a South African in South Africa to a South African in The US of A.
Where to begin.....hmmmm.....well this is so unbelievably exciting...you have no idea! A friend of mine told me about the Workaway International programme and I literally jumped on it in a second. My forms were filled out and sent through to their offices before I could even contemplate that I would be leaving South Africa for half a year.
It's a pretty daunting thought for someone who has never been out of the country before, but let me tell you I am so ecstatic to have been given this opportunity.
So where do I go from here? Well obviously I cannot just get on a plane....so step one of this epicly epic adventure is filling out a bunch of forms, going to the doctor for a bunch of tests and then off to the American Consulate. This is all going to be happening before the end of November. Lots of time, you might think but after all this I still have to pack (harder than it sounds, believe me), have my going away/21st birthday party and go visit and say bye to all my friends. Yup.....sound like fun eh? And I wouldn't be doing any of it without this job. I'm even looking forward to the packing...which is making me crazy anxious because besides the 10 mandatory pairs of black socks that I need to take with I have no idea what other STUFF to take with...but that is a conversation for another post.
So before the scramble all I have to do is fill in forms and enjoy this crazy exciting feeling in my stomach, yes you know the one. America is only a month and a half away....
The next step is waiting to hear about our visa interviews. If you are nervous about your actual interview, don’t be. If you are honest, friendly and don’t look like you are hiding anything, you will be perfectly fine. Last year was my first time, you will feel nervous because there is tight security and anxious because you feel like your whole life depends on those 5 minutes with the consular officer. You have to have your ID book on you to verify who you are, you have to make sure your cellphone is turned off (which makes for a very long and boring wait) and everyone is sitting there in silence, moving from chair to chair waiting for their name to be called out. Like they tell you in the presentation, make sure that you are there 30 minutes before because you don’t want to miss your appointment.
Why am I going there?
Who will I be working for? (Remember that this year you are employed by the country club)
What are my intentions when I have finished working? (And that is of course to return to SA J)
It was awesome being around all the excited candidates that have made it to start their new journey and the ones that have already been were just as excited to finally start preparing for the final stages.
I had been getting so excited to see the people again that are going to Sailfish it’s always nice to chat and catch up to see how they are doing...it’s always good to see how excited they are because it makes me even more excited to go back. All we have left are our medicals and visa appointments and then we are off on a jet plane!!!
I know from now till the departure time will go by so quickly and before we know it, we will be back in the sunshine State enjoying the hard work and the time we get to spend with great people.
All I can say to you guys that are in my same shoes look forward to the most amazing time of your life!!!
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Rejoice with your family and friends in the beautiful land of life! ~Albert Einstein
Hi Y’all, well I have been having a great time in Bloemfontein. I arrived here at the end of August and was put to work…
A kids birthday party was my first job and how do you keep a group of ten year olds busy? The cherry on the cake was they were having a sleep over… Hannah Montana. We made cupcakes and imitated Hannah, and believe me when I say I have not had so much fun in ages. Nice to be ten again! Then time to make a blackforrest cake and eats for two friend’s birthdays. All went well and we had great fun.
But time seems to be going fast and in just a few days we will be holding our orientations, first in Cape Town and then off to Johannesburg and Durban. Exciting stuff!!! Starting with medicals and visas.
So I hope you are enjoying the time you all have with your family and friends, because soon you will be “leaving on a jet plane” heading for the United States of Americrrrrrrrrrrra…
What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life - to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories. ~George Eliot
Author: Lucille Earle
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
“Where were you when…?”
For each generation that question has different meaning. For our parents it was moments like the first moon landing, the assassination of JFK and the day Elvis died. For my generation it’s the fall of the Berlin wall, the freedom of Nelson Mandela, the day Diana died and the day that changed our world… the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
We all remember those poignant moments in our life, but the most important is 9/11. Today on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the USA, I watched a rebroadcast of the NBC morning show detailing events as they unfolded that day. It reminded me of the exact moments where I was on that Tuesday in 2001 and all the emotions that I felt.
A few years later I took a trip to New York and downtown Manhattan where the twin towers once stood, and history was made. Standing at ground zero, I took a moment of reflection and remembered that fateful day and was in awe. I still couldn’t believe that I was standing there and of just what an impact those moments made on so many lives, not just Americans, but to everyone around the world.
I’m sure there will be many more “Where were you when…?” moments in our lives to come, so remember every experience and emotion as you never know if history is being written.
Sunday, 4 September 2011
I was fortunate to go watch rugby at Ellis Park stadium on Saturday (Lions vs Sharks) I was so excited as I have not been able to watch a rugby match live in a very long time, it was a very fun day starting in true South African style with a braai before the game!!! It was such a nice vibe as the lions are doing so well.... the anticipation was so high for them to win and of coarse they did not disappoint, the stadium was packed and it just made me realize that this is why South Africa will always be HOME!!!!! It was one day that I will say has been the best since i have been back!!
On the other hand time is getting close to go back to my second home the USA I must say I am getting very excited to see all my friends...I really thought I would never say this but I do miss the work too!!!
With the orientation just around the corner...I am going to see all the new people that can’t wait to go on an amazing experience and to see how excited everyone is. I must say I cant wait and am extremely excited to head back!!!
To all the people that have not been accepted to hang in there, you never know you might just get the call and if you don’t, don’t give up there is always next time!
Thursday, 1 September 2011
I started the Workaway program in 2006 and have developed many friendships along the way. So I decided to take a trip to Cape Town and meet up with some of my friends I had made over the past 5 years. Thinking that 5 days would be enough I purchased my flight ticket and off to Cape Town I went…
Was greeted at the airport by Johan, whom I met in 2008, in Florida. Excited to see him I immediately began chatting about all that has happened since we last saw each other. Our friendship has taken us many places, we even went sky diving. So seeing him was great fun to say the least but we decided to stay on the ground this time round.... We then met up with Shae and Shaun, whom I met in 2006. We were the first South African team to work at Boca Rio country club and had returned there every year. With Shaun becoming our dinning room manager on our second season, we became like a family. I had been super excited for weeks, knowing I get to see them and that in our own country for the first time. So the few days came and went and I got to meet up with Jomar, Jorg, Roger and Michael, all whom I met through Workaway.
Now it’s time for me to head off to my next destination. Happy to go, but sad to be leaving.
I realized that I had made friends for life and no matter where life might take us; we all know that this friendship will be a bond we will always carry in our hearts. Thank you to everyone that has made this trip so worth it and to everyone I never got to see I hope to see you soon. To the new participant, I believe you will to have the opportunity to develop such special friendships on the Workaway Program…So looking forward to the next season and new friendships…
Monday, 29 August 2011
On the Workaway side, I know a lot of you are still waiting to hear if you have been a successful applicant or not, I know that it is nerve wracking waiting for the news, but hang in there. And for those of you who were not successful, do not despair, it does not mean that you are not a worthy candidate, it just means that it wasn’t the right time for you to go. So if you are really keen on trying again next year, make sure you are extra prepared this time. Make sure that you have all the necessary training and experience you need for the position that you are applying for, and especially if you are applying to be a server, get some more serving experience, it won’t hurt to have that extra year or so on your CV.
I was fortunate the last week to play SA tour guide to Angela from the Workaway Office in Florida, whose first time it was to come to South Africa. As a local, I never really took the time to see some of the amazing beauties of our wonderful country.
It was a great sunny Cape Town day and we headed out through Camps Bay and along the coast down to Cape Point. What an experience to stand where the two great oceans meet and look back at the view. Afterwards it was off to Spier Estate for Angela to pet the cheetahs, a little wine tasting was to follow. Then a dash back to the city for cocktails at sunset watching the sun dip into the sea…
This is not the first time I’ve had to play tour guide to someone from the US, but it is always a proudly South African moment to “show off” our country. I would have never had the opportunities the program has provided to me, had my best friend Rob not persuaded me nine years ago to take the chance.
The Country Clubs are in the process of finalizing their selections, but for those that have been selected and this is your first time traveling overseas, make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. You never know... you may get the opportunity to fly in a private jet to Key West for dinner.!!
Wednesday, 17 August 2011
With interviews going so well, it was time for Boca West to touch down on South African soil. It was very nervous times for the candidates that were being interviewed; you could just see the fear in their eyes as they got closer and closer to the time for their interview. I tried hard to help them relax but from my past experience I know its very nerve wrecking!!! Interviews went very well and candidates left in high spirits.... hopeful that they would receive good news!
With the next week fast approaching it was time for some of the other clubs to do interviews...I started feeling very nervous as I was going to be on the other side of the fence. I was going to be conducting interviews for my club “Sailfish Point”. I must say the nerves were getting the better of me...but after the first few interviews were completed I felt much better :) I got to interview some REALLY nice people and knew I would have my work cut out for me when I had to make my final decisions on who I wanted to select!! Knowing that in the back of my mind I still had to go to Cape Town to meet more amazing people...
After the Johannesburg interviews it was a rush to get to OR Tambo Airport to catch a flight to Cape Town. Can you believe it I had never been to Cape Town before! Excitement had hit me that I was finally going to be in the Mother City, after so many of my good friends have told me how great it was, I was finally going to see it for myself. Getting on the plane I was now so anxious to get there. The flight was not one of my best as it was sooo full and I got the last seat on the plane right next to the toilet so just imagine....not fun!!
Finally I arrived in Cape Town... it felt like I was in another country! Driving to my hotel, The Westin, I was just picturing how it would look after the stories I had heard. WOW… it was amazing! Felt as if I was not supposed to be there!!!
After a good night’s sleep, I was off to Rondebosch for more interviews, hoping that the Capetonians would be as good as the Joburgers. Let me just say... they did not disappoint, got to meet some really, really nice people. It was really hard to make the final selection with so many fantastic people that I interviewed, wish I could have taken them all!!!!!
Interviews done...now it was time to enjoy the rest of my stay and have a good time with great friends, that I must add I met on the “Workaway Program” I had great fun in my short stay in the mother city and I will definitely be back soon!!!
Good luck to all the peeps, hope you all get calls to say you have been accepted!!!!!!!
With the first club interviews behind us we head straight into round two. Up in Johannesburg we had Richard and Angela from Addison Reserve, Angela from Workaway Florida office and our very own South Africa Manager Charlotte interviewing participants for some of the most exclusive Country Clubs in the United States… I truly don’t know how they select the participant as everyone is just so nice and super friendly!
Sunday, 7 August 2011
I have also been lucky enough to help out with the interviewing process for Workaway at the Hilton in Durban; here I get to meet a bunch of people who are excited about branching off in a new direction of their lives and exploring a totally different part of the world. I love sharing my experiences with them and giving them some helpful tips for their Country Club interviews. I get flashbacks when I watch them sitting anxiously in their chairs, nervously waiting for their 10 minutes to shine, all dressed to impress in their suits and pencil skirts – takes me back to when I was going for my final interview. I remember being so nervous and thinking that my whole international future counted on the outcome of that interview. Need I mention that I am so glad that it all worked out and I got the opportunity to check out the greener grass.
Thursday, 4 August 2011
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
This is were I really get to know the applicants. This is something that people always ask how I remember people and their stories.
Each file is removed from storage and read through to get a biography of each of the applicants. Looking at friends and seeing who would be a good fit at each of the Country Clubs. A lot of thought, consideration and discussion with the help of Vida e Cafe coffee is made in placing each of the applicants.
Making the calls to applicants to is great because after months or weeks of waiting the final interviews are here and traveling to work in the USA is becoming a reality. You can hear the excitement and anticipation when giving the details for the interviews.
Boca West Country Club is here this weekend doing their selections; I’ll be in Cape Town on Monday for those interviews and the other clubs next weekend.
Friday, 22 July 2011
like you are hard to find.
In a lifetime,
You get only a few.
And when you find them,
You always grow a little bit
taller in your soul.
And when you find them,
You also know that
as the years come and
as the years go by…
…you have been blessed
Just to know them: thus
Blessed am I, thus lucky
have I been…
To know a friend like you.
These are the amazing people I have had the opportunity of meeting with the Workaway Program! And I do hope you all get the opportunity for Workaway to take you there!
But I am not the only celeb… *grinning* celebrating a birthday in July. My grandmother is 80 and just as beautiful as when she was 30!
We also celebrate “Our grandfather, the world’s heroes” 93 Birthday…
…………… HaPpY bIrThDaY Mr. Nelson Mandela……………
So that’s it from South African soil…..
Leaving you with a thought….
Thursday, 21 July 2011
Being back in South Africa after almost 3 years in the USA has been very challenging at the least. The cold weather, living conditions and not being around friends 24 hours. But I have definitely adapted!!!
Getting used to all the things I missed for the past 3 years like being able to drive, stopping at a petrol station, getting a pepper steak pie was like heaven!
Working with Workaway and assisting with the recruitment in the Johannesburg area has definitely helped going around meeting such amazing South Africans that I will possibly be working with has been so so much fun.
Being at the first presentation in Johannesburg made me realise that there are such great people out there and I must add some very interesting ones too! With a good turnout we had interviews at the Southern Sun, I got to meet really nice people and give them a little bit of my amazing experiences in the USA.
After the first presentation was done it was time to get back on the road to find more great applicants, driving around with Lucille, the Johannesburg representative, we came across a very excited candidate at an Ice Cream Parlour, We stopped and spoke to him. He was amazed that we had came to him. ‘It’s meant to be. I have to go!’ were his exact words. He was so excited as he had looked at the Workaway program before and never pursued it further. He just made my day knowing that finding people I can make their dreams come true by going to the USA. Trust me it is a dream come true when you get there!
Off to the second presentation in Johannesburg with anticipation to see if all the hard work recruiting has paid off. Great turnout at the presentation with many good people that that may be going on a journey of a lifetime.
Knowing that there is only 2 months left for me to pack my bag and head off back to the sunny state of Florida is starting to get very exciting. To start the journey all over again, meet new people and some... let me say family. You meet such amazing people that you can almost call family, I cant wait to see them again!
Just remember if you have a dream pursue it, you never know it might just come true one day.....
Author: Tyrone Havenga
Wednesday, 20 July 2011
The weather couldn't have been better in the Cape, which allowed me along with Megan to head out from Blouberg to Simonstown. It was great to meet people and to bump into so many past participants that are now in management positions at some of Cape Town best restaurants.
The management from the Country Clubs will be here within the next two weeks to select participants for this season. If you are interested in taking an opportunity of a lifetime and looking to work abroad in the USA at some of the most exclusive Country Clubs in Florida, then your last chance to apply will be to attend the presentation in your area. Details are on the website under presentation details.
"A mind is like a parachute. It only works when it's open." - Anthony J. D΄Angelo
With that thought, take this opportunity to broaden your horizons, gain valuable skills and discover a different part of the world.