I have changed. I have evolved. I see things differently.
This summer through the work & travel program I went to the US for the second consecutive year. Last year I went to Rehoboth Beach, DE, but I wasn’t moved by the place and I was 80% sure that I wasn’t going back. Things got a little twisted and I signed up again for the program, but this time aiming for California as my desired destination. I heard only good things about Santa Cruz, California thus I decided to go for this state and town. After several emails and an interview, I got the job! Full of excitement, I was ready to spend my summer by the ocean, in California, in Santa Cruz.
I didn’t leave home with expectations, I was just curious about California, to realize at the end of the summer that I’ve spent 4 amazing, unforgettable, life changing months.
My job was at an amusement park, one of the best amusement parks in the world, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. I was part of the Games&Arcades department. Specifically, I was supposed to stay at the games (Top Glo, Pitch In, Long Shot, Water Race, Splash – just to name a few) be nice to guests, have fun, celebrate with them the wins and make them play more, have a great time. It was a lovely job. Most of my colleagues were Americans, but there were also people from Poland, Macedonia, Malaysia, Jamaica. It was the perfect environment to interact with people from various cultures who share similar interests. Most of us were students, but there were also teenagers.
The housing that I was offered was very cute and cozy. It was right across from the Boardwalk and I could even see the ocean through the window of the main room. I shared this apartment with two friendly girls, Laia from Spain and Tina from Montenegro. Three European cultures in one apartment, for an entire summer. I loved every day of it. I spoke English every day, all day for 4 months, exactly what I would expect from spending a long time in a foreign country. It was interesting to see how well we got along, spent great moments together and made beautiful memories.
Going alone to Santa Cruz made me more open and willing to meet new people. I would easily start conversations with people and others as well would easily approach me. I met very interesting people with life stories that amazed me, like a man who owned a big business in Taiwan that processes bamboo. He had also adopted a kid from Romania, my home country. He recounted how one day when he was in Bucharest, Romania he had coffee with Nicolas Cage. I also met people who worked in Silicon Valley at Apple, NASA or Google. One day I was approached by a man who has a YouTube channel with whom I still keep in touch. If you’ve seen live videos with me on Facebook this summer, this is the guy. His name is Damon Cart and the YouTube channel is NLP Gym. It was wonderful to be featured in his videos and I’ve learnt a lot of things from him about personal development, YouTube, and what it takes to run an online business.
Santa Cruz is a wonderful town. When I chose to spend my summer there, little did I know about this place. It is nicknamed “Surf City”. In 1885 three Hawaiian princes who were attending university in California brought surfing to North America for the first time right in Santa Cruz. It quickly spread throughout the West Coast of the United States and to the rest of the world. A famous movie inspired by a true story, starring Gerard Butler, was filmed there: Chasing Mavericks. On top of that, Santa Cruz is the home to Jack O’Neill who invented the wet-suit for surfers. Indeed, there are plenty of beaches where you can surf. On any clear day you will find surfers in the ocean right off of the coast enjoying their sport.
The entire summer was an amazing experience I could not have imagined, full of unforgettable moments that I am grateful to have lived and that will stay with me forever. But all of these were possible because I was open to experiencing whatever came my way. I was curious and eager and I accepted challenges.
If I have any words of encouragement, it is to see the world with an open mind, an open heart, and an openness to experiencing new things. Be courageous. Seize opportunities, enjoy the little things, and devour your surroundings with your senses.
Santa Cruz – California