A graduate of the University of Strathclyde, Kirsty tells us about her Work America experience and how she found love...
I was going into my second year of University at Strathclyde in Glasgow, and was starting to think where I’d like to go with BUNAC this year. I had previously gone to Colorado as a summer intern with my University but really wanted to do something independent and fun this year, so I booked Work America!
I had a few different ideas in mind but was generally set on New York, or at least the East coast. Using BUNAC’s Job Zone searching for jobs ended up being really exciting!
I had narrowed it down to a few jobs that I would apply to first, one being a job working inside the Statue of Liberty, and one being a job as a beach bartender at a country club on a small island off the coast of Long Island. I sent off my applications and was so excited about my coming summer. I had travelled with BUNAC before so didn’t really have any worries, I just couldn’t wait for the summer to begin.
So the weekend passed and I hadn’t heard anything back from any of the jobs I had applied to, it had only been a couple of days though so I wasn’t really expecting to hear anything that soon. The very next day I got an email from the manager at The Fishers Island Country Club saying that they would be delighted to offer me a position at the Club for the summer. After speaking to the woman, she sent me an official job offer email. I could hardly contain my excitement!
When you first book Work America, you think that 5-6 months will drag, but in my experience it does not! BUNAC took me through the process step by step so I never felt overwhelmed. All of a sudden after months of preparation it was time to go…
The next day I was in Times Square and I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was amazing. All the lights and bustling of people, it was exactly what I imagined it to be.
So the time came to be off on my own and take the train from Penn station to New London Connecticut, where I would transfer onto a ferry over to the island. I was met by my manager; he picked me up and took me to the staff housing. It seemed like luxury, I had my own bedroom and bathroom in a shared 5 bedroom house; we had a large kitchen, living room and laundry room. We also had use of vehicles to get us to and from work etc.
I was the only one living in my house when I arrived, but there were two other girls in the house a few yards away. I was given a couple of days to settle in which I was really pleased about.
That evening, as I was starting to get hungry I heard a car horn. It sounded a few times before I figured I should check it out. It was the two girls in the other house, they were in uniforms in a van waving furiously at me. I started to smile but as I approached they were angrily shouting ‘get in, get in’! They weren’t very happy that I had kept them waiting. They explained that you had to be ready when the van beeped its horn, and that the van would never wait for you, and that I had made them late. I apologized and told them that I now got it and would never make them wait again. When they calmed down they introduced themselves as Stephanie and Lauren. Those girls turned out to be my best friends on the island.
The manager had told me that there was a small collection of people at the club, but it felt like lots! The first person I saw when entering the club was a very tall chef, called Dan. I am not exactly an outgoing person, so meeting all these people was a little scary.
I started work a couple of days later and found settling into my new job was a lot of fun. I worked with Stephanie and Lauren most of the time as they were working at the beach club too. I was the bartender there and happily mixed up fruity cocktails for the customers all day long. It turned out the chef I had met the first day was also working at the beach club, he only worked there a couple of times a week, but I enjoyed working with him. I would hear him tell the others jokes and would laugh to myself, thinking he reminded me of my family, and how we had similar humor. I saw him socially at house parties; Dan was a very quiet person, which I found strange, as I had a general stereotype that all Americans were outgoing. This made talking to him very difficult.
After a few weeks had passed I told my friend Stephanie that I thought I liked someone on the island, and told her that it was Dan. She was a little surprised, only because of us both being such shy people. However we then made it our mission to talk to him more and get to know him better.
Eventually he asked me if I liked super hero movies… I was a little taken back by the question, but answered ‘yes... I suppose’... He asked if I would like to go with him. I said ‘yes’!
We saw the movie and afterwards he drove me home. I was a little surprised and disappointed when he let me out of the car and drove away. I was going over in my head, ‘what did I do?’, ‘does he not like me?’
One of our neighbors decided to throw a 70’s party; everyone was excited and began thinking about costumes and music. Dan was going with his brothers who had driven over from New Hampshire to see him. At the party I made a conscious effort to talk to him, his brothers were nice, but quiet just like Dan. I didn’t really know how to act around him because I really liked him. I felt like I was losing my mind and had even said something crazy to Stephanie that day. I said that ‘I felt like I could marry this guy!’ Now that is weird coming from me, I was an independent person who enjoyed doing things on my own; to be thinking about marriage was a little crazy.
Dan left the party early; I decided affirmative action was in order. So the next day I called him and asked if he wanted to go to for a drink and play some pool. Something just for the two of us.
At the bar Dan told me how his brothers had told him that it was clear I liked him and that he didnt believe them. I told him he should listen to his brothers more often. That night Dan drove me to a really beautiful beach and we watched a meteor shower and had our first kiss. I can confidently say that when it is ‘the one’, you just know! I knew he was the one for me!
After that night he was like a different person, we would hang out together, laugh and have fun. We even spent our days off together over on the mainland. It really was the summer of my life, here I was on this beautiful island, with a guy I really liked, a job I enjoyed and a group of friends that were amazing. I couldn’t be happier.
Time flew and before I knew it the summer was over and I had to return to Scotland and leave Dan. We decided to spend our last weekend together in New York City. I was leaving and would fly out of JFK, so Dan came to the city with me. We got a great deal on a hotel, right in Times Square, and planned a few outings. We only had 2 full days. We saw some of the sights and tried to forget that we would be parting ways very soon. I was very upset. I had actually already told Dan several times throughout the season that I loved him, but I was very happy when on our last day together he told me that he loved me too! This made me believe that this was not the end for us!
I had just had the best summer of my life! How was I expected to get back to normality? Luckily, 4 days after I had left Dan wrote to me saying that he was coming over to see me, as he didn’t feel complete.
While he was over he was able to meet my whole family at a party for my mother’s cousin. He was really nervous about meeting everyone, I felt bad, but I knew that if he survived this then it would be as if he was part of the family already! It was daunting but everyone was so nice to him, and he enjoyed himself. Everyone got a long and it felt so right.
I made plans to go back to Fishers Island for another summer, so once again I signed up with BUNAC, for another fun filled Work America. This time Dan and I decided that we would share a room and live together.
We went to the mall one day on our visit to the mainland, and we casually strolled into a diamond ring shop. He asked me what kinds I liked and I awwwed and oooohed at all the beautiful rings. We left empty handed but happy.
The following week Dan took me to a beach on the island I had never been before. He took a back pack out of his car; I thought it was just a picnic! He brought out was a bottle of champagne, opened it and poured two glasses. Then to my surprise he also pulled out of his backpack a little red box. He opened it and inside was a beautiful pear shaped diamond engagement ring. I can’t remember the exact words, but knowing Dan, it was not the usual, ‘will you marry me?’ It was something completely different. Either way I accepted the ring and we were officially engaged! That night there was a staff party on the beach and we went as an engaged couple. We told everyone and they were so happy for us! We were being called ‘the Fishers Island couple’, which was so cute.
We met on Fishers Island, we got engaged on Fishers Island, and it would only seem natural to get married here too. As I was finishing University that year, I wouldn’t be able to come back with BUNAC again, so it became a reality that we would be getting married that summer! Time was short but we were determined to do it. I found out my family would not be able to be there, I was completely shattered by this, as of course I wanted my family there. Sometimes though you have to do what’s right for you and the wedding plans on Fishers went ahead. I asked Lauren and Stephanie to be my bridesmaids, but unfortunately Stephanie had to return early for university, so Lauren became my maid of honor! I had my hen day in New York City; we had a great day sipping appletinis at the Hard Rock Café!
The day was finally here, and Lauren and I were getting ready. I received a phone call at the house and it was my family. Firstly my Mum, then my Dad, Brother, Granddad and the whole entire family basically had gathered to wish me all the best. It was the first time that day that I cried. Of course I was happy to be getting married to the man I love but was very sad my family and in particular my parents could not be there with me. We talked about how the other wedding would be great too and they wished me the best and I hung up to get ready for the day.
We borrowed the pink car as the wedding car only with a twist, it was bright pink with clubs, hearts and the other playing card symbols on it, Lauren drove us to the venue which happened to be the country club where Dan and I had first met over a year ago before.
Just before walking in, my manager came out to wish me the best and I had tears in my eyes, I was so happy. Then off I went walking behind Lauren. When Dan saw me he smiled and it looked like he had a tear too. The ceremony was lovely and the time came to become husband and wife, neither of us hesitated and was so excited to be married. We kissed and that was it we were married, everyone clapped and it was like the paparazzi had arrived with all the camera flashes! We had a beautiful reception with some unexpected speeches. Some of our dear friends and colleagues had such nice things to say, it really made our day.
Well we’ve been married 4 years this October and it has been a happy time. Obviously there have been ups and downs in our life as all couples will go through. We have relocated and struggled financially, but have successfully got secure jobs, bought our first house in Upstate New York and just received news that we are expecting twins!
We think often about Fishers Island and about BUNAC and how it changed our lives for the better. Everyone makes certain choices in their lives and for me choosing to do Work America with BUNAC, and working at Fishers Island country club were some of the best choices I’ve ever made. I met Dan, my love and my soul mate, I could not be happier, and I would urge anyone who doesn’t think they can do a work travel program…you can! It will be something that changes your life.
For your very own Work America romance, give us a call on 020 7251 3472 and we'll get the ball rolling.... and don't forget our invite to the wedding!