Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Saying goodbye!

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 :)

Author: Michelle Lowe

Packing tips!

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!

Author: Nolene Lotz

The thing I love about airports!

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 walk though those gates...the gates that only ticket holders can go though, and goodbyes need to be said and hugs are 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.

Author: Melissa Rauch

Friday, 21 October 2011

Confessions of a wondering traveller!

Hey guys!

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!

Author: Michael Elliott

Monday, 17 October 2011

Local is Lekker...

So we got to experience the Springboks devastating loss against Australia … and just like South Africans we had to see how quick we could get some humor out of it all… it’s just the way we are.
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)….
And …

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…

So for everyone that is waiting, enjoy the wait and embrace our wonderful country while you still get to braai boerewors on open flames and have cross and Blackwell mayonnaise in the potato salad…
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…

What an experience…

…Hope you are all ready for it…

Author: Lucille Earle

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

In the beginning!

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!!!!!!!

Author: Daniel Pfeil and Roxane Gordon

Friday, 7 October 2011

We are going to America!

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!

Author: Nolene Lotz

Monday, 3 October 2011

I'm going back!

Hi my name is Michelle and I am an...

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

This really is something of a head rush!

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 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

Author: Melissa Rauch

Laughter is medicine to your soul...

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.

Pathologist, check.

Radiologist, 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.

Author: Lucille Earle

Summer in the City...

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

Author: Andre Smith