By: Alexandra Arteni, Greenheart Exchange Work and Travel Participant

Hello! I’m Alexandra, a 20-year-old Romanian girl. Where to even begin with my time here?

I’ll start at the beginning. It has only been one week since I arrived in Alabama and I have already felt a thousand emotions. Everything seemed perfect from the moment I arrived at my work destination. I have traveled to several countries in Europe, but I have never experienced such kindness before, Americans are so nice! For example, my host organization gave me a bicycle to explore the surroundings, the hotel employees helped me adapt to the area, and they even showed me the points of interest in the city where I’ll be living this summer. Everything has been great! I am beginning to think that coming here alone was a blessing because my host organization helped me find housing in a hotel with a wonderful sea view.

Since arriving, I have tried to take advantage of the beautiful weather. However, my streak of happiness broke on the third day when storms were predicted. There was a flash-flood warning in my area! All of the TV stations announced that Cindy, the tropical storm, would hit my area violently. I started receiving alarms every hour on my phone saying that the area would be flooded. I felt like I was in a horror movie, even if it was only 2:00 p.m. I was so scared that I stayed in my room until morning. Maybe I would have come out of my room if I had heard people running and screaming, but it was so quiet around, which made it even worse. It was the longest night of my life. In the morning, I asked my host organization if we needed to evacuate the area. He responded, laughing, “Welcome to Gulf Shores! You will get used to this weather!” Suddenly, I was enlightened, even if it was still dark and cloudy outside—apparently this was normal weather for the area!

The storm continued for a few days and I ran out of food. Luckily, an employee’s wife kindly prepared me Indian food. It was very tasty!

Now, I feel great and I can’t wait to travel in the United States! I feel like this is going to be the best summer of my life!

Learn more about Greenheart Exchange’s Work and Travel program here!