92 Days in the USA… What’s Stopping You?

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Photograph: Julian Carvajal

92 Days. That’s how long I managed to work and travel the USA.

‘But why should I care?’ I hear you cry. Because now is the best time for you to travel. No really, it is. Never again will you have the amount of freedom and low responsibility you have right now. Indulge me for a moment…

 

At the start of 2016, I realised I had gotten extremely bored of a linear life of retail in Norwich. A fine city indeed but sometimes fine doesn’t mean interesting or soul enriching. So I started looking around for something different even though I didn’t know exactly what I was after. After thinking for a while I remembered a ‘Work in America’ type program I saw at my careers fair in my undergraduate days at the University of Kent. I had been to the US before on family holidays, once to Vegas and once to LA. But there was still a long list of places I really wanted to see with my own eyes: San Francisco, the Rocky steps in Philadelphia, The White House, to name just a few. I didn’t just want a short 10 day holiday that would plunge me back into the meat grinder as soon as I returned to the UK. A bit of research later and I found what I was looking for: the chance to work in America, with 30 days travel at the end. I would use my work permit to its absolute limit and reluctantly return to England with only 2 days left to leave the USA.

 

So, in February of this year I applied to AmeriCamp who took me through all the required steps. When my USA job was confirmed, I quit my job. I gave notice on my flat. I accepted my place onto Marketing MSc at Lancaster. And in June I left to work at a summer camp in New York for 8 weeks. What I had done didn’t actually sink in until I was on the plane, with nothing but my savings, my suitcase and my rucksack. As the plane launched off the runway, I felt I’d left all of my frustrations behind, at least for a little while.

 

In New York, I worked in the media department of an enormous Camp, specialising in 3-4 weekly videos, documenting the awesome activities the kids got up to. I had a ‘co-pilot’ and together we shot some slick promo vids- 54 in total and DVDs to go with it. I got to fly drones, film on a speed boat, zip line, fence, drive quads and swim in a lake.

 

At most camps, there’s general counselling roles available, as well as speciality areas- life guarding, teaching- tell AmeriCamp about any skills you have, as it may get you an interesting job. The camp staff also had a day trip to New York which was when it really hit home for me that I was living and working in America! In the course of the 2 months working at camp, I met some amazing fellow counsellors from all over the world; Australia, Scotland, Norway, and of course America. I also got to celebrate the fourth of July in America for the first time.

 

After 2 months, Camp finished and I got paid. With this money, I travelled for a month after. Sometimes I stayed in HI Hostels, an excellent and very affordable chain of hostels. At other points I went on tours provided by Top Deck, who expertly crafted 2 pretty awesome itineraries, meaning I got to see pretty much what I wanted in good time and on a budget. I visited New York, San Francisco, Napa Valley, Yosemite, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, LA, Miami, Charlotte, Orlando, Washington, Philadelphia, and New York again. I saw famous sites such as the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Wall Street, the Golden Gate bridge, Alcatraz/”The Rock”, The Kennedy Space Centre/NASA, The White House. I saw shows/exhibits such as Yankees baseball, Miami Auto Museum (complete with Batmobile), David Copperfield, CSI Investigation, Bodies exhibition, Madame Tussauds, Universal Studios (Transformers, yeah!)… In short, it was a trip of a lifetime. I’d made more memories in 3 months than in the last 3 years of my life.

 

So what are you waiting for? Deciding to go is the hardest part. With some savings, thought and planning, you can have the best time of your life. You’ll come back with amazing stories and make new friends along the way. Travelling opens up all sorts of opportunities you can’t possibly foresee, and it changed my perspective on life and how I wanted to live it.

Playing devil’s advocate here: sure you want to graduate, launch into the world of work. But why not enjoy the freedom of student life a little longer?Too often we learn the value of things when they are gone.

Lee is the AmeriCamp Campus Manager for Lancaster. Any questions you have- just harass me on campus, or send me an email with any questions you may have. l.francis3@lancaster.ac.uk