1) Can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Marianna Podlucka, I am 26 years old and I am from Bratislava, Slovakia. I was studying journalism and media communication, which I graduated from in 2018, however I decided to go for another Master Program, hence I am still studying. This time I am doing a Master in political science.
2) How did you hear about Work&Travel Program?
When did you join the program, where did you work in the USA?
I have been part of W&T since 2015, for 4 summers. I knew about this program since high school but I was in doubt whether it is worth it , especially in terms of money. Still, my dream was to visit the USA, not as a tourist but rather as an expat . In 2014 I saw photos of my friend who was in the US during summer , part of a W&T program. I felt so jealous that she is in America while I am stuck at home Therefore I decided to apply for the next season. And so I did. Let me tell you, it changed my life! First I aimed it to be just a one summer thing. I went there with no expectations, just wanted to have fun, meet new people, experience the American culture and make some money.
I worked in Morey’s Piers in Wildwood, NJ. I chose it bc my friend used to work there as a lifeguard. I decided to go to the food & beverage because I had experience from home. First year I worked as a cashier plus my second job was a game operator. After the first summer my manager asked me if I would be interested in coming back and offered me a better job position. I agreed and since then, each summer, I have worked as a waitress. During my stay I try to be in contact with foreigners, rather than people from my home country. Therefore I met two girls Yuliia from Ukraine , living in Poland and Maria from Colombia. We became best friends and decided to go to Wildwood for our second summer. During the second summer I was more in touch with Americans. I got a better chance to get to know their culture and how are they in real life.
3) How Work&Travel Program changed your life, what did you learn, experienced in the USA?
Work & Travel changed my life a lot. Now I have so many international friends who are like my second family. I had a chance to travel to Colombia , where I visited Maria and her family, I travelled to Poland to see Yuliia and she even spent Christmas with me in Slovakia. I had the chance to meet and work with people all around the world. It opened my eyes about other cultures. How they live, what are their traditions and it showed me that we are all the same, it doesn’t matter where we are from or what is the color of our skin, we all have the same problems, expectations and same dreams.
My American friends showed me how kind and helpful they are. They were always curious where we come from and how we live They always listened attentively while we were talking about our culture/homes...
During the year I was always looking forward to the summer and it was an accomplishment for my hard work. So my life consisted of my Slovak life - off season and my American life - summer.
Thanks to my job my life in America was awesome. I always had amazing managers with whom I became friends. They were helpful and were doing more for us than it was expected from them. I met all my best friends at work. We had lots of fun and we worked hard. However it does not seem hard when you are surrounded by best friends. They helped us whenever we needed and welcomed us in their homes. We are still in touch , texting, calling, visiting (when it’s possible) and we even became so close friends with some, that we are invited to a wedding. To wrap it up, my American and International friends are more than I could have ever imagined.
But it was not just about work and friends. I had chance to explore US, I visited NYC which was my dream, I was in Boston, Niagara Falls, Chicago, Florida, San Francisco, LA, San Diego, Las Vegas ,Nashville, Dallas, we made a road trip through National Parks, I went on a Cruise twice, spend my vacations in Bahamas and Mexico and much more. And lets not forget the endless parties followed by summer loves and break ups that I will never forget.
Because of all this experience I am more open-minded, adventurous, ready to explore and able to take care of myself wherever I am.
4) What do you do now?
Right now I am working full time as a reporter in a local television in Bratislava and, as mentioned before still studying for my second master degree. I have summer off so last year I went to the US to meet my friends and this year I was supposed to be working again.
In my opinion everyone should try this program , I am so glad that I helped several people to apply and all of them were happy with their experience
Summer Work & Travel can totally change your life but it’s worth it.
Morey’s Piers and Wildwood will forever be in my heart and part of who I am.