Reflections on My 2014 American Experience
By Nicolet Iaonela Brinza, Work and Travel Summer 2014 Ambassador Scholar
Nicoleta Brinza is a Work and Travel participant who believes in the high importance of communication and mutual understanding. In her final post as an Ambassador Scholar, Nicoleta reflects on her experiences in the United States.
For me America was only what I saw on TV: movies, Hollywood stars, skyscrapers, fast food. But this summer I explored the U.S. capital, Washington DC and I was happy to see a beautiful, well organized city. Let me tell what brought me to the United States this summer.
Being waitress for three months in a restaurant means hard work, patience, ambition to learn the menu, a good mood to talk with the customers and a big smile. While working at an Indian restaurant, I had to give my best in order to be loved by the guests. There were a lot of internationals students working there, and it was a lot of fun. During the break time there was no other pleasure than going out and eating the local favorite pancakes or frozen yogurt. Working in a popular restaurant in Chicago gave me the opportunity to meet people from all around the world. I spoke Spanish and French, promoted my country, and I felt proud that I could say I am European.
Before I came here, I had a problem concerning the communication. I was so shy and afraid to speak. But this American experience taught me how to become brave, without knowing it. It happened to me and I think it is the best achievement.
Did I have a few prejudices or stereotypes about America? my answer is “Yes.” I was scared that I would breathe polluted air, that I will not see green, that all the people are busy and rude. But in fact, it is exactly the opposite. Every morning I went by car from a northern suburb to downtown. It is unbelievable how nice it was to admire the landscapes of the Chicagoland area. Everything was green. The sky was clear, with big and white clouds, and huge sun who smiled at me all the time. I could see up-close the planes landing at O’Hare Airport. I don’t see this in my country! Well, not every day! Indeed, the skyscrapers were the best attraction when I was close to the city. I was admiring them, believing that I was in a movie with Al Pacino. Hahaha!
About people, what can I say? Nothing else than the truth: they are the best! I wish all people were so open-minded and optimistic like the Americans. Always in rush, running or driving, but with a pleasant smile on their face. They can make you day better only if they tell you: “Hi, how are you? Everything Ok? Have a good one!” And you definitely will have a good day! Cause this is a tradition. If on my continent we use to kiss or to shake our hand when we meet or leave, in the United States there a strong hug is enough to say “Hi” or “Goodbye.” And that is emotional, especially for sensitive people like me.
One of the most impressive activities was my volunteering time at one organization, which was packing food for starving children. I think those few hours spent there had an impact on my personality, because now I just cannot stop thinking about poor children who need help. And it was so nice to find out that American people do that. I felt I was helpful, and I am so proud now.
I like capitals; I visited more than ten capitals during my life, because I am a big traveler, but Washington D.C. was so special. Why? Because here I met special people – friends for life. I could not name the best moment from that trip, because everything was great. In addition to that, CCI Greenheart taught me the definition of a Global Leader. I wondered if I was leader or become one, because I thought it meant having ambition and persuading others to sustain your cause. So I decided to do more for poor and starving people. Thanks to this American experience, I will take all these with me, in my journey, and I will help the world.
In conclusion, my American summer didn’t mean only a few dollars per hour, fast food, and missing my family, but it was the best time of my life. I improved my English. I met wonderful people. I made thousands of memories.I took hundreds of pictures and I developed myself. I am changed. I am more mature. I communicate more. I have more faith. I want to fight for my cause. I want to explore the world. I want to tell every student to try America, because it is worthy. Don’t ever be afraid to cross the Ocean. It is different, but tasting good!