(ODTÜ, Makina Mühendisliği 4. SINIF ÖĞRENCİSİ)
(San Diego Zoo, CALIFORNIA)
"It was 6th of June when I first stepped my foot on California land. I still don’t know why i waited for so many years but finally I was there. I wasn’t thinking about the tiring 20 hours trip anymore. It was a feeling like finding something that you have lost a long time ago. That is how my ‘American Dream’ had started. I was on a run in the first days i had in San Diego. Because I was in a different country by myself. I was trying to meet new people to get informed about the city, about people, about culture, about everything. Then things went well, i met a lot of friends from Turkey, US, Mexico etc. And the funny days started. There were a lot of people like me from all over the world. There was just one purpose for everyone: to have fun!
I worked at the San Diego Zoo for about 3 months. During the first month, i found a second job at the Sheraton Hotel as a busser. What I understood during that time is, having two jobs is not easy. I was making good money these days, but it was not easy to work like 12 hours a day. In these times, I understood that making money is not as fun as spending it, but it was a life experience for me. I am glad that I got it when I am 20, it would have been later.
Working at the zoo was really fun. I was working at the visitor assistance department, talking to more than hundreds of people everyday. It helped me to improve my English and to get more self-confidence about it. In the first days, I was shy to express all my feelings in a foreign language, but after a week i got used to it. All my colleagues were helpful to me for warming up, and being a member for the team. It was not just like a work, it was like a volunteered zoo tour everyday.
After all that working period, it was the time to see other cities. With the friends from the zoo, I visited Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and finally New York. Where ever I visited, whatever I did, I felt closer to the idolized American culture in my head. Believe me that listening to your favorite songs from the radio, watching the newest Hollywood movies before anyone else around the world, getting on a roller-coaster, going to a concert of a world famous rock band, seeing a Professional Bowling player while playing or a baseball game in a huge Arena, driving a Mustang on a 8 lane-highway is exactly a need for every young guy who adores that kind of fun. I am glad that i did it all.
To conclude, work and travel student exchange program is quite useful for students to have a life experience earlier. It gives the chance to university students to experience living by them without any help. It also teaches a totally different culture in an enjoyable way. I really think that it was a different experience which will help me to plan my future career. If you have the chance to try it, just listen to me, do not wait! Hurry up!"