Sam's Adventures on Work America

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When I pictured my first summer as a fully fledged adult aged 18, I imagined a summer job, responsibility, catching up with friends and straight up chilling. What I did not expect was working at an amusement park that looked as though it was straight out of the movies, making friends from all corners of the world and going on the most epic road trip in California. It’s fair to say BUNAC’s Work America programme gave me one of the best experiences of my life. No biggie.

PRE THE BEST SUMMER EVER

It was February in cold, rainy England and combined with university stress, I was gasping for a summer of fun, sun and adventure. I wanted to escape for a while and make some unforgettable memories. A quick internet search led me to BUNAC’s website. They offered an abundance of incredible programmes, and I have always loved the USA, with its diverse cities, iconic movies and idealistic philosophy. Needless to say, their Work America programme screamed out to me.

Help with finding a job, comprehensive assistance in obtaining my J1 visa and all round support, BUNAC had me ready to make my American dream a reality.

MY AMERICAN ADVENTURE

For two summers I worked at Trimper’s Rides and Amusements in Ocean City, Maryland. With my flannel shirts replaced by the brightest of uniforms and my back garden now being a lively beach, it’s fair to say my friends back home had ultimate summer-envy.

As a Games Cashier and Ride Operator, my days were filled with whack-a-mole, rollercoasters and t-shirt tan lines. The amusement park was constantly buzzing and the most poppin’ party tunes were blasting all day and night long – Demi Lovato, I’m looking at you. Chatting away to Americans always provided a lot of laughs. Sometimes they had no clue what I was saying; sometimes they wanted me to give them my life story and one time a girl thought I was Harry Styles. I said I was. She took a picture. That’s what makes you mis-lead-ing.

After fun-filled shifts in the sun working on some of the most bonkers games and rides, returning to the Trimper’s accommodation was where just as many memories were made. Most of the international staff lived above the park in apartments, which was a great way to socialise with likeminded travellers from as far as Colombia and Romania. We loved a good dress up. Anything-But-Clothes parties, flag parties and my ultimate fave: the annual toga party. What better way to express yourself than with a Walmart bed sheet draped around your newly tanned body?

ROAD TRIP

After a summer of making friends and planning the ultimate end of season holiday, it was time to embark on our 2 week Californian road trip. Years of binge watching The OC and 90210 had lead up to this point.

  • We began our adventure in San Francisco and explored its cosmopolitan centre, with the visit to Alcatraz prison being a personal highlight.
  • Our next stop was Santa Barbara and onto Los Angeles, where we played the part of ultimate tourists at Universal Studios, a tour of Warner Brothers studios and celeb spotting in Beverly Hills (Lisa Love from Teen Vogue/The Hills, fyi).
  • Las Vegas was the final destination in our unforgettable summer. Our two bookings were merged at the our hotel and we were upgraded to a penthouse suite with three bathrooms, a kitchen and two sitting rooms. No shock, our Facebook and Instagram posts were all #blessed #humble and #mamawouldbeproud.

Have you checked out the awesome videos by fellow Trimper's Rides alumni, Oli Hopkin? He also participated in BUNAC's Work America programme and documented his adventures across the whole summer, from pre-flight musings to to on the job shennanigans.

My two summers spent in the US on BUNAC’s Work America programme were some of the best times I’ve ever had. If you want to live and work in some of the most diverse and cinematic places, all the while enjoying your close proximity to world famous landmarks and making friends from around the globe  then what are you waiting for? Sign up and have the adventure of your life! You still have time to be there this summer.