10 Amazing Moments From My Working Holiday in America
Nitika Erueti-Satish from New Zealand has always been an adventure chasing kind of girl and is currently working in America on a J1 visa. She has been in the United States for 9 months now living in the Bay Area (San Fran to the East Bay – Oakland) and has enjoyed every minute of it, Here she shares the highlights of her trip and the top 10 things she has done so far.
The whole experience of living and working in the USA still doesn't seem real to me, I have had so many surreal and exciting experiences. From the food to the concerts, to finding a job or two, enjoying time with my family, making new friends and not to mention taking in all of the sites I have been able to visit.
Scroll down to check out my top 10 moments that I still can’t believe have happened to me this past year starting with…
10. Portland, OR
My first impression of Portland had me feeling more connected to nature than I have ever been since moving to the US. This city is situated amongst beautiful snowy mountains and has the amazingly gorgeous Colombia River, the largest river in the Pacific Northwest region of America, acting as a boarder separating Oregon and Washington State. The people are extra friendly and are always down to help you find your way or give you some advice about things to do. It’s also a foody city so if you love to eat make sure to delegate funds dedicated to satisfying your hunger pains.
My favorite sweet treats to try was the Voodoo Doughnuts and ice-cream from Salt n Straw. When I was feeling a little low and needed a boost I always found myself hitting the food trucks located in downtown Portland between Southwest Alder and Washington Street (best times to go is around lunch). For epic scenic views I’d recommend checking out the Japanese Gardens or booking a seat on the Afternoon Half-Day Multnomah Falls and Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls Tour provided by Hub World Travel.
9. Universal Studios
If you’re a film/cinema junky you will fall head over heels in love with Universal Studios. This is my most favorite part of LA. I was also lucky enough to experience the studios with my cousins from Aotearoa, New Zealand and we had a blast. The Harry Potter attraction was my most favorite of all. It was very well built and every single detail seen in the movies was perfectly carved and sculpted to give you that real life feeling of being a young wizard running amuck in Hogwarts.
My second favorite was the Jurassic Park attraction. The ride scared the shit out me not to mention left us soaking wet! Definitely invest in a waterproof poncho or trash bag before jumping on these rides! I’m sure they sell these at Universal Studios but it will be cheaper buying them at the Dollar Store.
The only downside to attending such a heavenly place is waiting in line. Sometimes it can be a 30 – 45 minute wait to get to the front of the line. If you have cash to burn I’d recommend splashing out on a Universal Express pass that gets you a 1 day general admission with a one-time express access to each ride, attraction and seated show. I would also like to quickly mention that there is a real life Moe’s bar that sells Duff Beer and it is divine!
8. LA Angels Base Ball Game
I’ve never been a fan of Base Ball but there is something about a live game that really gets me going. Luckily for me I have loving cousins who spoil me and hooked it up with tickets. The Angels Stadium in Anaheim is so big! There are concession stands all around stocked with loads of sugary treats, sodas, pretzels, hot dogs and more but the thing that stood out for me was the walking concession stands crawling through the seated crowds yelling out at the top of their lungs “CHURRRRRRO’S” or “COTTON CAAAANDY”. My overall experience of the game was pretty great, I had a great time and more importantly the Angels won!
7. BART (Bay Area Rides Together)
Here in the Bay Area one of the main sources of public transportation is riding the Bart (train). It may seem a little crazy having Bart in my top 10 list but as the saying goes “don’t knock it till you try it” because being a passenger on these trains is actually pretty entertaining. You are guaranteed to see dancers, singers, poets and other forms of entertainment busking on the trains. They normally perform, between stops and ask for a small donation after their performances. This by far is such a cool thing to witness! Of course you will also see the usual drunks, preachers, verbal exchanges, beggars and homeless on the Bart that adds to its unusually hip feng shui. On that note the Bart is safe. There are always Bart Police around and the controllers are pretty cool too!
6. The Holiday’s
The holiday period kicks off around Thanks Giving which always falls on the 4th Thursday in November each year. Traditionally this holiday symbolized the blessing of the harvest. It was pretty much a party the pilgrims put on to come together with the Native Americans over the sharing of a feast before the pillaging took place. But that was back in the old days. Now days it’s all about that family time and bonding. A good tip I’d like to mention is save your money because the Thanks Giving and Black Friday sales are crazy!
The best times to get to the malls or outlets are around 7pm (they are normally open till 2am) or early in the morning on Black Friday at 6am. No lines, no fuss and most importantly no customer tug a war in between the isles. Christmas time is super amazing! America really does it BIG! From the giant 55 foot Christmas trees decorated with enough lights to light up a small town to the street parades, this country invests so much into Christmas. It’s truly a magical experience and if you’re over in the East Coast you will be able to have a white Christmas.
New Years was pretty low key for me this year only because I fell ill with the flue but there are a few awesome New Year’s festivals across the country.
5. NBA Game Trail Blazers v.s Charlotte Hornets
Getting the opportunity to see a NBA game live is such an exhilarating experience. And before you ask, yes, I bought a foam hand! The mid time breaks where the cheerleaders and dancers came out to perform really hyped up the crowd and the games coordinated with the fans really brought the whole experience to life. If you are ever feel like going to a game (any game, bball, baseball, football) use an app called StubHub or Gametime to find your tickets. Watching the Trail Blazers was such a great activity and it was such a close game 105 – 107 to the Trail Blazers. The next game I’m going to will definitely have to be a Golden State Warriors game here at Oakland’s very own Oracle Arena.
4. Afropunk Festival
This festival is located in Brooklyn, New York and is a two day event made up of 5 stages showcasing an abundant of national and international musicians. Afropunk is an influential community of young, gifted people of all backgrounds who speak through music, art, film, comedy, fashion and more. A friend and I attended this festival last year in August and it was absolutely incredible. I saw so many of my favorite musicians like; Solange, Gary Clark Jr, NAO, Willow Smith, SZA, Princess Nokia, Macy Gray, Little Simz and many more.
The fashion scene had me like OMFG! There so many creative people roaming the crowds in body paint, glitter, make up, hair extensions, there was this guy who had used mesh and wire to construct horns out of his own dreadlocks, that’s how cool everyone was! When you go to this festival get as creative as you can, be as loud as you can and do whatever feels the most natural. It is a carefree environment where you are able to express yourself as openly as you want to. This festival was insanely amazing and I would fully go back again. We even got to see a speech made by Spike Lee as he revealed the trailer for his new show called “Shes Gotta Have It” on Netflix.
3. New York City
A few things you need to know about New York is that it is HUGE! The city really doesn’t sleep, things are really open 24/7 and the hustle never stops. We stayed in Brooklyn for the first part of our trip and fell in love with the whole Brooklyn vibe. Brooklyn has swag like no other. One thing that stood out for me was the street art dedicated to showing off its hip hop culture and history. Another cool thing to do is cross the Brooklyn Bridge but beware its hella busy so stick to the walking lanes at all times or you are most likely to hit by a cyclist. Also if you seem to find yourself a little parched once you walk to the middle, have no fear there are fruit and drink carts posted up along with sketchers and photographers ready to make your experience that much more memorable.
Williamsburg is also a great little town that also has a lot of street art, local eateries and cafes along with one of the best views the city has to offer. This is down on Kent Street where you get a view of the Williamsburg Bridge, the Port as well as a view of the NYC skyline. From here you can walk over the Williamsburg Bridge into downtown Manhattan.
We also did a quick visit to Harlem and it was like being in a totally different country. So many Jamaicans! While wondering the streets we came across a Carnival community concert showcasing a range of West Indies musicians. Carnival in the East Coast is a Labor Day parade/celebration of diversity. It’s a big 3 day weekend street rave where people dress up and dance. If you’re interested in seeing shirtless Jamaicans getting their “Dutty Wine” on then Carnival 2018 is for you!
Times Square was also another highlight for me. If you aren’t afraid of crowds and don’t have epilepsy then this is the place for you. If you’re there to sight see then definitely go at night but if you are there to shop then go during the day. Take some tipping cash with you because you are bound to come across street shows, painters, graffiti artists, performers and people trying to promote their cd’s and music. I once was seduced by a rapper who tried to get me to buy his cd and when I declined rhymed for me as a method of flirting. Men in NYC are play in a whole other field to what I’m use to back home. I feel like the men in New York have that magic, that confidence that sweeps you off your feet. I believe it’s called ‘game’.
During my time in New York I was lucky enough to visit the 9/11 memorial site and museum. This was such an emotional experience not only for me but for all the other hundreds of people who entered the facility that day. Inside is two separate sections that tell the story of what happened on the day of the attacks through narrating stories, interactive technology, archives and a collection of artifacts salvaged. It was an incredibly moving experience.
One of the best parts about being here is all the shows I have been to. I really love going to concerts and festivals, raving is the best feeling especially when you have a great group who raves with you. So far apart from Afropunk, I have been to around 5 concerts and 4 festivals. I have seen the likes of Fiji, Mango Kings, Jordan T, CRSB, Sammy Johnson, Common Kings, Eric Benet, Andra Day and many more perform in the 9 months that I have been in America. I have been around for the Island Reggae Party in Long Beach, Oaklands Pride Fest, A’s Fest and have been blinded by what I saw at the Folsom Street Fair hosted in San Francisco. I normally keep an eye out on apps such as Eventbrite, Ticketmaster and Ticketfly for details and ticket pricing. I am a huge reggae fan so to see my most favorite bands perform has been a dream of mine fulfilled.
Finding my job was one of the hardest parts of my journey. When I first arrived in America I was staying at my relatives place in Riverside, California. I exhausted websites such as Monster.com and Indeed.com sending loads and loads of resumes out and getting hardly any responses back. I then moved from Riverside to the Bay Area where I found my almost full time job as a sales consultant and key holder for a locally owned apparel store called Oaklandish.
Oaklandish is a B-Corp organization who uses local artists to design unique prints that represent Oakland City. Most of our apparel is design and printed in Oakland gaining credible authenticity across all apparel and products produced by Oaklandish. Partnering with non-profit organizations, Oaklandish is very community driven and annually makes contributions to these local organizations by offering support, designing t-shirts, donations and utilizing staff at community events.
I work with some pretty amazing people, some, who are also up and coming musicians and who I have had the privilege of seeing live so keep your eyes and ears out for rapper Mylez B, r&b singer Rayana Jay, and bedroom pop singer SampleLov. Working for Oaklandish has been a great way for me to learn more about Oakland and the Bay Area as well as make some pretty incredible friends. Oaklandish gave me a family, a home away from home, and by far has been the best part of my journey. I am really going to miss these guys when I return home.
I arranged my working holiday with International Exchange Programs IEP who offer jobs abroad to New Zealanders. I still have 3 more months to go on my J1 journey and will most likely hit up more sites, states, concerts, restaurants and more so to stay tuned and feel free to follow me on: SnapChat: tikabell11 or Instagram: miss.tika_
Also, leave a comment if you have any questions or recommendations for me!
Thanks for reading!
By Nitika Erueti-Satish
If Nitika's experience has ignited your interested in visiting or exploring America check out the following pages:
- Summer Camp Jobs in the USA
- Internships in the USA
- Volunteer Work in the USA
- USA Gap Year Programs
- USA Overland Tours