Work and Travel USA

Jes , 8 Comments

Many people who went university always tell me that secondary/poly/JC school was one of their best times in their life and I always think that it is because these people did not know how to optimize university's activities fully. I think I set a record by going for 4 freshmen camps consecutively for 4 weeks and made great friends there and had such a blasting great fun because of that.

But nothing can compare to this. One of my best times in university was an opportunity to go Work and Travel. It's a once-in-a-lifetime deal to leave your parents to work for 1+ month and travel USA for the rest of the summer holidays which is 1 full month of vacation!
The wave pool at the theme park

The best part is the money you earned from working will sponsor your travel. No currency loss too.
This is for kids only... 
The worst part is being a cheap foreign labour in another country.

It sounds bad but it's really not so bad. When you are overseas, even working feels relaxed and fun, particularly because all the jobs are in theme parks and holiday resorts. Every weekend after work, you will look forward to road trips you can take to different cities and having a bunch of new friends made there is so worth it!
One of our road trips to Maymont
I took on a lifeguard position in King's Dominion at Virginia. There is a swimming test and lifeguard/lifesaving course taught so it's not going to be easy. However, I chose it purely for practical reasons - They pay the highest salary at US$8.50/hour compared to theme park operators who only get around US$6/hour.
Enjoying and arranging the floats for reuse
I easily earned more than US$1.5k in a month.

What's so fantastic about it?
I stepped out of my comfort zone, learnt to be independent, to think about my meals, laundry and how to save money here and there.
The scariest ride is the black one which is free falling and I overcame my fear to try it!
I got to swim with the frogs and catch them so as to remove them from the pool!
Looks icky and slimy... and you are right but it's still fun
I made some great bisexual/gay American friends who are so cool and handsome. Too bad, ladies.. sigh.
I got to enjoy free stuff on hot dog days (free flow hot dogs!), burgers day, pizza party, watermelon carnival (eat all you want watermelons!) and so many more...
Free beer of course!..
Everyone who works there got unlimited free access to the theme park.... woohoo!
I got to travel for 1+ month to Washington, New York, San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas, Taipei spending only my salary!
Most people regretted not going because everyone was saying how fun it was!
Beautiful sights that would cost a lot of money and time to travel around
What's not so good about it?
You got to pay around S$1.5k upfront for the cheapest air ticket and agency fees.
The swimming test I mentioned was conducted in 8C, when spring transitioned into summer. We were shivering the whole time... the only time in my life my teeth clattered together.
That's real training for you to be an adult!
I became so tanned like a Bangladeshi... haha! Hide my blemishes ok.
My skin was really dry from the climate and I was definitely malnourished.
Our lunches were self prepared sandwich but we do sometimes go for treats like this...
To all my juniors who are doing research on this and are afraid to leave behind your maids and mums, pets and fridge, please don't be an idiot. It will be the best way to spend your summer vacation and if you love having fun like I do, the best time of your life!
I still remember the times fondly..


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  1. Hi Jes,

    Pretty good advice out there!

    Didn't manage to do what you did as I was busy with tuition during my freshman and sophomore years. But going on an exchange to Vancouver probably made up for it?

    But 4 freshmen camps consecutively for 4 weeks?! That takes some beating.

    1. Hi 15HWW,

      Woah, going on an exchange is even longer and better! I think going overseas with a big bunch of friends and enjoying life as a student is really rocking good fun!

      Haha, yeah I shocked myself. Thanks to the different groups of friends who pulled me to the different camps, think I would not have gone for so many if it's up to me. Thanks for reading :)

  2. Hi Jes

    That seems damn cool to me.

    I read something the same about working and playing in new zealand and the idea is about the same. I think its a really cool way to think about spending some summer vacation this way.

    1. Hi B,

      Happy to see you here! Yeah basically the idea is the same, just depending on the places you want to go. Absolutely cool man, partying like the westerners is a really eye opening experience for the nerdy asians, haha!

  3. Hi Jes,

    I know my university SMU has this arrangement, were you from there too, or this arrangement isn't exclusive to SMU? Haha


    1. Hi LS,

      I was from NUS. If I am not wrong, this program is for all university and poly students, so there are quite a number of participants. Too bad you did not join at that time! :)

    2. Haha I'm still in school so I'll probably check it out, thanks!

    3. Hi LS,

      Oh, sorry I misunderstood! You still have a chance to have fun.... enjoy then :P