By: Nicoleta Ionela Brinza, Work and Travel Summer 2014 Ambassador Scholar

Nicoleta is a Work and Travel participant from Romania, working in the Chicago area. In her first blog post, she shares how work doesn’t really feel like work.

The Work and Travel program is a way to live. Through September I will be a server. It is something new for me, so the beginning is always a challenge. To make everything easier, I decided to put together 3 things that I usually like. I am talking about multiculturalism, communication, and soccer.

Since I started working in this popular restaurant in downtown Chicago, I have become happier and more accomplished. Why am I saying this? It is simple. Below I will explain everything.

First of all, traveling means multiculturalism and diversity. Being in such a big town, Chicago restaurants bring many tourists from all around the world. I meet different nationalities almost every day and it is very interesting, because my city Timisoara didn’t give me this opportunity.

Secondly, my major is communications and public relations. Let’s say that being a waiter for a summer is suitable for this field. Not only do I communicate with people, but I have to promote every dish from the menu. At the same time I improve my English.

Third, 90% of the staff love soccer. And they watch soccer games! The World Cup was kind of like a religion in this restaurant. In the break time, everybody was excited to watch the matches and to bet.

But this is only the background of my job. I will choose a working day to describe the details.

Every day, at 7:30 a.m., I wake up (I forgot to mention that I am living in a suburb). The company’s car picks up the students and drops us off downtown. At 10 a.m. the staff starts to arrange the buffet. This preparation lasts almost an hour. At lunch time there is a buffet, with a lot of Indian specialties. At 11:30 a.m. (or some days at 11:00 a.m.) the restaurant is open. My uniform is black. I have to wear an apron and a tie, also.

When the customers are at my table (I say “my table” because each server has some tables every day), I have to greet them, put water on the table and invite them to the buffet. If they want some other drinks, coffee or tea, I take the order and bring them to the table. Once they are done with the food, I have to take away the dirty plates, in order to use new plates. After that, I bring hot towels and the check, and I process the payment. In the break time I take a rest or walk/go shopping.

For the dinner service (that means from 5:00 p.m. or 5:30 p.m.), I have to take all the orders, and answer the questions concerning the menu. At 10:00 p.m. (or 11:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays) the restaurant is closed. I have to clean the section where I have worked that day, front section, booth section or party section. Once we finish, we go back home.

Actually it is not hard, it is interesting. And knowing that I can eat as much as I want (Indian food) makes me more satisfied. Everything is delicious there, from the simple mango lassi (drink) to the amazing Chicken tikka massala (the most popular dish).

All I have to do is to concentrate, be polite, communicate and always smile. I am always the same Nicole, and sometimes the customers think that I am from India because of my appearance. I fit in here!

As Confucius said: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

I am so happy to be here and I will enjoy every moment. Until my next blog, I send an invitation to all Chicagoland people: try Indian food! You will not regret it.