By Aybuke Saldir, Work and Travel Summer 2014 Ambassador Scholar

Aybuke Saldir is a Work and Travel participant from Turkey. Now that her work program is complete, she takes time to reflect on her travel adventures. 

After working 3 months, finally starting travel part must be every Work and Travel participant’s dream. Last time I was in United States, I didn’t leave any time to travel. But this time, I made the most of it. As crazy as it sounds, I decided to travel to 2 coasts in 2 weeks.

Good thing about being alone on a tour is that you meet so many different people; you don’t feel like you are by yourself. I even met other J-1 students who were working in different states. Most of the people were from China. There were also Indians, Ukrainians, and Portuguese. In these last 2 weeks, I met so many people from different cultures, I lost count.

Let’s not forget the travel part. The first nine days, I went on a leisurely west coast tour. We started from Los Angeles and went through Las Vegas. It was a hectic schedule since we were traveling by bus, and everywhere in U.S. is a long drive. But it was so worth it. I don’t think I would’ve been able to see so many places if I had just rented a car and driven by myself.

There is something you should know about me. I’m a movie geek. You can’t imagine how wonderful it was to see the places I’ve only seen in movies. Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, San Francisco etc… Also, I got to visit Universal Studios, which was one of the best parts of this trip. I can’t forget about Yosemite National Park! We were very unfortunate because there was no water at the waterfall. But that’s just a small part. The whole park was breathtaking.

At the end of the tour, our tour guide wanted to know our favorite parts. Surprisingly, mine was San Francisco. We were there just for a day. I know it’s not enough time to judge a city, but there was something about it that reminded me the city where I grew up. I loved how it wasn’t hot like Los Angeles and it wasn’t hectic like New York.

My next stop was east coast. I flew to New Jersey to meet my other tour. The first thing on our itinerary was Niagara Falls. Let me tell you something: The pictures don’t do any justice. It was my second time seeing it, but it was still spectacular. After there, we went to Watkins Glen, which was a little town with lots of beauty. Our last stop was Washington DC. Unfortunately, many attractions had to be canceled, and we had to leave there early. But the tour company wanted to make it up to us. On the way to dropping point in New Jersey, they stopped in Philadelphia.

These two weeks were more exhausting than 3 months of working. But it was worth it. I saw so many places in such a short time. I feel so lucky for being able spent my summer so full. I’m just 22 years old. I can’t even imagine what more I can do. My options are limitless, and knowing that is wonderful.