Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The wait before the wait...

By Arthur Devon Petersen 

This has been by far one of the most humbling experiences I have ever endured. From receiving confirmation of employment and the completion of various medical examinations to a successful visa application and booked flight to the USA. 

Workaway International has made this process so easy for first time applicants.  I can only imagine how stressful it must be to not only do this procedure for one person, but for over 600 other applicants from across the country.  I thank you for all your time and effort in making sure we are always updated on the status of our applications. I also would like to thank everyone at Workaway International for providing us with the opportunity to chase and achieve our dreams. You guys are the real stars of the show.

Now that I am packed and ready, it is time to say my goodbye’s and begin a new chapter in my life. As always, it is good to stay humble and uphold my values and principles. I thank God every day and pray He guides and protects us all throughout our journeys in the USA.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Goodbye South Africa

By Chevonne Kieser

This past week has been very exciting with all the successful candidates having their appointments at the U.S. consulate to find out if their U.S. visas were approved. Everything just feels so much more real once your visa is approved!

I started handing out flight packs to all candidates that were successful with their visas.
I cannot believe that tomorrow I will be catching the long flight back to sunny Florida once again. I cannot wait and I am so excited to reunite with everyone back at Boca West Country Club.

To all candidates still going to their appointments at the U.S. consulate, I wish you good luck. Remember to dress professionally, be polite and friendly. Even though I will not be there on the day, I will be leaving you in good hands. See you all in Florida!

Monday, 2 October 2017

Tips on what to bring along to the US

By Emma Seager

I recently got back from a trip to Las Vegas and like the saying goes, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. Now it is back to focusing on preparing for my next season in Florida.

Many of you may be coming to America for the first time and are possibly lost in terms of what to pack and what to expect. Firstly, go and exchange some money. As soon as you land in the US, you will be transported to your new apartment and will most likely be able to stop at a store on the way to grab some necessities. You will probably be starving so food would be first on your list! Do not forget to buy an adapter to be able to charge your phone if you did not bring one along. I would suggest getting some washing detergent so that you do not get stuck with heaps of dirty clothes. It is tough getting around without a car and your South African bank account will not work with Uber here so until you have been set up with an American bank account, you will be walking or will have to pay for a taxi in cash.

Pack light as you will want to buy everything here in America. When I first arrived, I only had two pairs of shorts and a few other clothing items.  You will not need much clothing as you will mostly be wearing your uniform.

Whatever you do, buy comfortable shoes that will support your feet and ankles for work as you will be on your feet most of the day. The working hours are long so being comfortable is key.

Bring some medication along from home as it can be confusing and overwhelming when you go to a store or pharmacy for the first time in America and you see tons of brands you have never heard of before. I just found it way easier to bring over what I am used to until I settle into the American brand. Here is a list of my top medical products:

Corenza C
Med Lemon
Disprin or Myprodol

I suggest bringing a file along with some documents such as certified copies of your passport, ID, Drivers Licence, etc. It can also come in handy to store your pay slips as you will need them to apply for an extension.
I hope this information is helpful. I wish you all good luck on your preparations.  I will see you on the other side.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Ticket to anywhere

By Vasti Fourie

Thank you Workaway International for this amazing opportunity.  Thank you for my ticket to anywhere. Physically I did not receive a ticket to go anywhere in the world, but I have my foot in the door and the opportunity to turn all my dreams into a reality.

In just a few weeks’ I will begin this amazing new chapter. Yes, it will be very difficult to say goodbye to all my family and friends, but I know it will all be worth it.

Here are a few reasons why it is a good idea to travel abroad:

Working in a different environment, away from home will change you and help you grow.
The best way to learn is from your experiences. 
You get to learn and understand cultures other than your own. As your understanding of other cultures increases, your understanding of yourself and your own culture will increase exponentially.
You get to experience new places, so go out and explore on your off days.
You learn that communication is so important – especially when you are living abroad so talk to the locals and make new friends.

To my fellow Workaway International participants, while we are in the USA let us soak up all the life lessons, stay strong and always be positive.

Thank you Workaway International and the staff for your guidance and assistance throughout this process. You have given so many young adults a brighter future J.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Experiencing America

By Andrea May

I will never forget where my journey started. On the morning on 20 October 2015, I raced to the airport with my family. It was as if they were never going to see me again. I hugged them all goodbye, knowing that I will just be gone for 6 months.

It was a long flight to America. After three movies back to back, I was sure we were about to land but I looked at the time and saw we still had 10 hours to go! Eventually we landed and I met my house coordinator, Annie, for the first time. She has been truly amazing to me.

As we exited the airport, the first thing I saw was palm trees everywhere! We got to a store called Publix (which is similar to Woolworths) before we got to our accommodation.  Annie and her assistant helped us settle into our apartments. The apartments looked better than I expected. It was like a holiday resort – we had a hot tub, pool, creek, tennis courts, gym, pool tables and Apple Macs.

Time went on at Boca West and I must admit that Christmas was the most difficult time. I missed my family so much.  I felt disconnected from the people I love and I wanted to go back home on more than one occasion. However, I had the support of friends and colleagues and that made things much easier. I ended up making so many amazing memories of my own. I am grateful for the connection I made with my colleagues as they soon became family.

Being on the Workaway International programme has allowed me to experience things I never knew I would. I went on amazing road trips like driving to Florida Keys on the Overseas Highway! We also drove to Tampa. I went jet skiing in Mexico and attended Ultra in Miami, where I got to see the biggest EDM artists live. I traveled to the Caribbean and fed flamingos on one of the most beautiful beaches. As an animal lover, swimming with dolphins was one of the biggest dreams come true.

I went to Disney World, kissed Mickey Mouse and met my favorite Disney princess, Ariel. I even overcame my fear of heights by going on the SheiKra, a dive coaster at the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay amusement park. Going to Universal Studios was just as amazing as I got to see some of my favourite childhood movies come to life.

Workaway has also made it possible for me to move to New York. There is just something about the city that captivates me and makes me feel alive. I even attended New York Fashion Week. I have fallen in love with this city and I never want to leave, but sadly I have one month left.

Being on the Workaway International program has opened so many doors for me. I have grown up so much and truly found myself. I will cherish this experience forever. Thank you Workaway International for giving me this amazing opportunity.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

America - We are coming for you!

By Mario de Carvalho

Hellen Keller once said; "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing". This is one of the many reasons why I decided to take on this once in a lifetime journey to the USA. I became acquainted with Workaway International through a friend who was on the program previously. I knew that a program as profound as Workaway International would be the perfect choice for me.

Workaway International has been exceptional, assisting me individually with whatever I needed. I received a call informing me that my application was successful and that I will be employed at the Boca West Country Club as a banquet server. I was overwhelmed with excitement. This is it. I am well on my way to the USA!

Since the orientation day in Johannesburg, the process has been expeditious. With the thought of leaving our home country, it is completely common to experience an array of emotions. From fear of homesickness and the unknown to excitement for what is to come. One thing is for sure - I am truly thankful and blessed to have been granted this opportunity. 

I want to thank each and every staff member of the Workaway International team. Not only for the opportunity but for their patience, helpfulness and guidance throughout the application process. They have made every successful participants dream come true! Thank you.

Monday, 18 September 2017

The Start of a New Chapter with Workaway International

By Megan Volker

In just a few weeks’ I will begin a new chapter abroad with Workaway International. I am super excited and grateful for such an amazing opportunity. Working and travelling abroad is one of the most important life experiences you can ever have – should you get the opportunity to do so.

It is vital that you remember a few key factors as you prepare for this journey ahead:

1.    Remember to pack wisely as there are certain weight restrictions with luggage;
2.    Do not let your nerves get the better of you. It is natural to feel scared or anxious before a long journey, especially when you have to leave your loved ones behind for the first time;
3.    Seize every opportunity as it comes;
4.    Remember to be yourself and make as many friends as you can. The friends you make will soon grow into family;
5.    Treat others as you would want to be treated;

Work hard and remember to always make a great impression.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

7 tips to remember when you are in Florida

By Catherine Lindebaum

Hey everyone! My name is Cat Lindebaum and I am a returner on the Workaway International Programme. I started in 2014 and 3 years later I am happy to return to Addison Reserve Country Club for my fourth season abroad, along with my boyfriend Gideon, who I met in my very first season at the country club.

The returning recruiters will know the drill but for all the new recruits, the first couple of weeks will be tough. Settling in to your new home, adapting and learning the ropes takes time, but remember to keep your head up, work hard and embrace the learning phase.

I have had the opportunity to experience fiery sunrises in Delray Beach and incredible sunsets in Naples. I explored Florida on a scooter, visited the southernmost point of the continental United States, celebrated my 21st birthday in Times Square and road-tripped from Florida to Vermont. All of which I did while showing up on time, maintaining a positive attitude and going the extra mile in my position as a hostess and reservationist.

Being a returner, I would like to think that I have gained a bit of wisdom to share. So here are 7 tips to keep in mind when you are on the Workaway International programme in Florida.

1.    You may be living in an apartment with 3 - 5 other people for the entire season. Get to know your housemates and most of all respect them and be considerate at all times.

2.    Come up with a cleaning routine early on in the season to ensure all housemates do their part. I have found that if everyone just cleans up after themselves straight away, there are rarely any problems or last minute major cleaning for an inspection.

3.    This one is simple: Be on time. Work hard. Smile always. These will always ensure a successful and problem-free work day.

4.    Some members of the country clubs will be abrupt and very demanding. Instead of retaliating in a negative way, rather take a few minutes to yourself and just breathe. If you still feel uncomfortable after that, speak to your server captain, manager or supervisor and communicate your problem. You will find that communication remains the key in every situation!

5.    Being new can be very overwhelming at times. Do not be afraid to ask for help whenever you need it. There will always be people to help you along the way.

6.    Likewise, if you are a returner and are training new recruits, practice patience. Remember their success is your success and you are all a team.

7.    Do not forget that you are in a different country. There are many rules that remain the same but there are also different rules and laws to adhere to. One of the biggest law states that the legal age for drinking & smoking is 21 years old. Be safe and stay legal at all times!

Most of all have fun, go out, explore and experience all there is to offer and make a ton of lifelong friends and memories you will not forget.

Enjoy and all the best of luck!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

We are all in this together

By Paige Pretorius

It is almost time to leave my family, friends and the place I have called home for 21 years, to begin a new adventure in the United States of America.

After our orientation at the Hilton Hotel, the reality of this impending journey hit me!   We received bright red packs with all the information we need to start our journey. Even then, it still felt like you can never have enough information.

Getting to chat to some of the “returners” and “newbies” at the orientation was a big help. It is intimidating having to talk to all these new people but these are the people who are possibly going to be your support structure while you are abroad. You want to get to know as many people as you can, and not only from your club but also from other clubs as well. The most amazing part so far is that I have already met some incredible people - and we have not even left yet.

Now, the time has come for us to start completing the tasks on our to-do list provided by Workaway International.  I have already been prodded with needles at the pathology lab and had x-rays taken of my chest at the radiologist.  Although it all sounds daunting (as it sure did to me), my excitement grows with every task that is ticked off my list.  

There is still quite a lot to do: A visit to the GP, the scary appointment at the USA Consulate and of course, getting down to the ‘nitty-grittys’ for our uniforms.

It will all come together and I would love to say “in time” however, we all know that there is not much time left. So all the best to my fellow Workaway International recruits, we are all in this together!

Monday, 11 September 2017

My current journey with Workaway International

By Arthur Devon Petersen 

“Where do I begin?” is the exact question I asked myself when I realized that I wanted to embark on a journey to work and experience life in the USA. Who better to provide me with such a momentous opportunity than Workaway International?

I heard about Workaway International through friends. At first, I thought it was a scam – it was too good to be true. My friends embarked on their journey and completed their first season at Boca West Country Club in Florida.  I immediately knew that this is what I was meant to do as well!

I attended a presentation and went through the screening process. In the beginning it was quite overwhelming as there were so many people applying to be on the Workaway International programme. Johannesburg had over 1000 applicants! It is difficult not to second guess yourself. Even while meeting with the various Country Club representatives, you cannot help but doubt your chances of being successful in the process. I then thought to myself, this is just like varsity, it begins with plenty of students and only the cream of the crop make it to the end. Finally - to my amazement - I am a step away from being employed at Boca West Country Club.

It has been a long wait to get to where we are now. Since the orientation, it finally sunk in that I am on my way to America. This is an opportunity to make new friends, new connections and begin a new journey in my life. I have only the staff at Workaway International to thank for providing many people, like myself, an opportunity to make our families and country proud by allowing us to serve and represent the hospitality industry. I will be a Server at Boca West Country Club and for this I am truly blessed and grateful.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Gearing up to take flight to Florida

By Claire Smith

The countdown to our recruits meeting at the pre-departure orientation for visa interviews, medical checks and other formalities has begun!  I am excited to return to the beach, soak up the sun and see my friends and the members at the Mirasol Country Club in Florida. I cannot wait for our recruits to start their journey – like I did 5 years ago.

It can be overwhelming and intimidating to travel to America, especially if it is your first time flying. 

Here are a few tips that will help when preparing for your new adventure:

When packing, roll your clothing instead of folding it so that there is more space;  
Do not over pack because you will definitely be doing a lot of shopping;
Carry a pen along with you as you will be required to complete custom and immigration forms on the airplane before you land;
If you need to take along any prescribed medication, make sure that you have a doctor’s note for the medication so that airport officials can identify why you are carrying the medication; 
Another helpful tip is to take chewing gum along with you as it helps prevent your ears from blocking as your flight ascends;
You are also more than welcome to take along your favorite snacks.

Do not be overwhelmed when arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport as the staff is friendly and willing to help where needed. Just sit back and as you take your next flight to Miami, take a look out of the window and you will see hundreds of yellow taxis - just like in the movies!

It has been such an amazing few months, meeting and getting to know all our recruits. I hope you are all as excited as I am to jet off to the USA. I think the 2017/2018 Workaway International season is going to be the best one yet!

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

It’s almost time to go back to the US

By Chevonne Kieser

I can finally say that we are nearing the end of the recruitment stage. It was so great to meet such incredible people. As the Johannesburg recruiter, I am glad I could be part of your journey to America. I am so proud of all the successful candidates and I am really excited to see you all again at the pre-orientation.

Time has gone by so fast. I cannot believe it is almost time for me to head back to Boca West Country Club for my sixth season. I have had an amazing time back  home, spending time with my family and even catching up with friends I have made in America that have come home for winter.

In no time you will be heading to the airport to catch your flight. A word of advice: do not resign from your current job until you have your visa. Pack as little as possible because you will be doing a lot of shopping once you are in Florida. Try to pack your favorite South African snacks and be open to new experiences.

Going on this programme will be the best decision. You are going to work long and hard but you are going to have the time of your life and you will meet amazing people who will become family.