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JENZA Talk / USA

My first month on a working holiday in the USA

International reunions, road trips and renaissance fairs in the land of the possible.

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I decided to make the big move to America in March 2023. Having gone through the application process with JENZA to get that J1 12-month working visa, I was excited and ready to set off on an adventure to Phoenix, Arizona for the year.

Leaving my family and friends at home was difficult, but I was so excited to start my journey. I chose Phoenix, Arizona because my best friend (who I met while she was studying abroad at my university in Adelaide, South Australia) was born and raised there, and her whole family lives there. Alina and I had always talked about living together in America and it was finally a reality.

New beginnings

My first month was a crazy start – Phoenix is very much a driving city (terrible public transport system), so without a car I was very much stuck in the one spot. I was living with my friend Alina’s parents in Gilbert until we found an apartment of our own in Tempe. Not having a car was not great, but luckily for me, Alina’s family were happy to drive me anywhere I needed to be. I didn’t have a job lined up in the states for my arrival so and I was just enjoying everything Phoenix had to offer instead, taking the time to learn a bit about my new home.

On my first full day in America, Alina took me to the infamous Chick-fil-A, a fast food chain serving up fried chicken sandwiches and crispy waffle fries (drool). Alina had raved about it ever since I met her so the bar was set high. Happy to report it lived up to the hype! She then took me to try all the classic American beers; my conclusions; Coors and Bud Light aren’t that great (in my opinion), but what was good was a beer named Voodoo Ranger, which is a yummy IPA.

Livin-la-vida-local

One of the things I've enjoyed about my time here, is that because I am friends with someone from there, I get to experience Phoenix less as a tourist and more as a local. An example of this; Alina’s dad, Keith and her brother Alfredo are really into their trucks (utes) and they took me not only to what I have been calling a truck show pregame (that’s exactly what it was), but the next day they took me to a real truck show. People had come from all over for it, and there was a parking garage full of all these suped-up vehicles. This is not something I would ever have gone to in Australia. Better yet, Alina’s dad knew people who had their vehicles in the show, so we got to hang out with them in their big American trucks. There were food trucks, merch stalls, face painting and more; it was definitely an experience like none that I had before.

The following weekend, I was taken by Alina’s brother Nicacio to a Renaissance Fair, which is something I had only ever heard about. The setting was on the outskirts of the city, so we had beautiful views of the mountains that surround Phoenix, and there were cacti everywhere. At the fair, there were entire turkey legs to eat, fun games to play, medieval-themed drinks, and lots of people dressed in medieval cosplay. It’s amazing how much everyone got into it. My favourite part was the jousting performance. Everyone went mad for it, we each had teams to cheer for and it was an incredibly fun performance.

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Jousting at the Renaissance fair

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Enjoying the local cuisine

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Reunited with my bestie

A laptop sits at the edge of the water

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Georgia Hetherington

JENZA Community Contributor

Our content is shaped by our community. If you also have a way with words and a travel tale to tell, drop us a line about writing for JENZA.

"I’ve loved all the new experiences i've had, and it has been fun pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone"

On being far from home

Among all my crazy fun I'm having, I did hit a bit of a rough spot. A couple of weeks after I arrived in the states, my little sister was hospitalised back in Australia. It was very scary, and she ended up in hospital for the better part of two months. I was keeping in touch, but it was really hard being in a different country when all I wanted to do was fly home and support her. Luckily for me she had a good support system around her, and so did I. Alina’s family were amazingly supportive of me. That is the thing about moving abroad – when things like this happen, it gets hard being separated from your loved ones. During this time, I found it best to surround myself with my friends here, and focus on staying present on my time in the States. Luckily my sister is making a full recovery, and all is well.

Struggle street

Another struggle I faced in my first month of the States: getting my social security number. They will tell you it’ll take 2-3 weeks to process but mine took just over 2 months. So be warned, going to the Social Security Administration offices should be one of the very first things you should do on arrival. I found myself there three times (eek).

On doing a working holiday in America

I am loving my time in the USA, I love the Arizona heat, not to mention the gorgeous sunsets. I’ve loved all the new experiences i've had, and it has been fun pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone. I have met some amazing people and have truly embraced the American experience. I would recommend this program to absolutely anybody, taking this giant leap of faith is one of the best things I have ever done, and you can do it to.

If you want to make your own American dream a reality - head over to our Work USA 12 month page for all the info on eligibility and what to expect.

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A laptop sits at the edge of the water

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Georgia Hetherington

JENZA Community Contributor

Our content is shaped by our community. If you also have a way with words and a travel tale to tell, drop us a line about writing for JENZA.

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