By: Nicoleta Ionela Brinza, Work and Travel participant 2013

Nicoleta worked at a popular restaurant in the Chicago area during the Summer 2013 season. She shares her experiences on CCI Greenheart’s Work and Travel program in a series of blog posts. Read what Nicoleta learned while in the “Second City,” hometown to CCI Greenheart!

Here I am.

First of all, I want to introduce myself: my name is Nicoleta Ionela Brinza, I am 24 years old and I am from Timisoara, Romania. I study Communication and Public Relations in French and English Languages. My hobbies include: watching soccer, traveling, dogs, eating pickles, and writing. One of my dreams before last summer was to see United States of America. Thanks to CCI Greenheart’s Work and Travel program and the U.S. government, I had the opportunity! 

Nicoleta Ionela Brinza

 Small decisions, big dreams came true.

Whenever I say “America” I feel like I have been the luckiest girl on the earth! My experience all began a few years ago, when I heard about this wonderful student program: Work and Travel. Many of my friends lived the American dream and they told me that it was the best experience they ever had. In October 2012, I decided to register for the program in Romania. In my opinion, it was my best decision I have ever made, because I don’t regret a moment. Honestly, if I ever have the chance, I would do it again, if only to just live that beautiful summer over again.

In February 2013, I found out that I was accepted to work in Chicago. From the beginning, I wanted to work there, because I felt that a big city means more opportunities, so the summer would have to be a lot o fun. Then in June, I had an embassy interview, and I got the visa! This moment was the announcement of an amazing summertime.

Ready? Go!

I don’t even know how to begin… I will tell you that America has changed me. Even my first name was modified there; everybody preferred to call me Nicole – a nice version for the Romanian name Nicoleta. Chicago, called the Windy City, is my second home, and so is dear CCI Greenheart. I lived in Chicago for almost four months, but I feel that I have known it for a lifetime. Technically, I lived in Schaumburg, which is a suburb city, one hour by car from Downtown Chicago. I worked in an Indian restaurant – as a busser and hostess. I liked it so much, because I discovered another culture and different traditions. I think I was really lucky working there, because not only was the work fun, the food and accommodation were provided by employer, which was better for me 😀

Then the next two months I was moved to work at the Downtown Chicago location as a hostess. Oh My God – It was amazing! Everyday I was came downtown; staying all day long, Whenever I had a break, I spent my free time roaming around Chicago! I was so happy. I didn’t know where my adventures first should have started. That’s when I asked around and I heard a lot of suggestions…

Interested in seeing what Nicoleta saw in Chicago? Be sure to read her next blog post!