I was in 3rd year in university when I had to decide what to do in summer. Many things crossed my mind but I chose to travel to the United States with a program called “Work and Travel USA”.
I’ve heard mystical stories about kids going to the States and making unbelievable amounts of money and the fun they had while traveling 'the lower 48' (an Alaskan expression for the rest of the US).
Stories and the scent of adventure charmed me so I made my mind up to go. But where to go? I said to myself- either Hawaii or Alaska.
I sent 2 emails to both States and received a reply the next morning. It was… Alaska! Damn it, I thought, I have never heard about students going for summer work to Alaska… I searched the internet and the things I saw were wilderness, bears, isolation, mountains and people with funny shoes.
But I've always had an adventurous spirit and shitloads of courage so I thought 'why not?'. I packed my stuff, got tickets and left for Alaska.
The common practice with Work & Travel is that people usually travel with their friends. I, on the other hand, left my best friend in London just before I decided to participate in the program, other friends had no desire to visit Alaska, so I was all alone.
The scariest experience in my life was when I walked out of the plane, after I flew up the mountain heights with snowy tops, and saw a smiling lady waving to me, I realised that my adventure in hell-knows-where had started.
The owner of the restaurant where I signed the contract to work for that summer picked me up and drove me to the apartment I would stay at.
The city I lived and worked in was called Girdwood. It's a tiny place that located 40 miles to south from the city I flew in. After a couple of days, I met my amazing coworkers, who became my friends for life and made my summer unforgettable.
The job in the little family-owned restaurant was hard and frustrating, however people working there introduced me to everything Alaskan.
Brooke, my friend from work, once took us shooting with shotguns. We spent hours in the forest drinking beer and shooting the same beer tins that we just drank, smoking weed and listening to stupid music. I can bet that half of the things we did were illegal, keeping in mind that I was 20 years old at that time.
Nevertheless, I had the time of my life! My whole summer was endless party and having good times with people I barely knew and barely will remember.
Things come and go, but I cannot forget the cookies that were made with weed butter that was made by the granny from Scotland, I also cannot forget the barbecues during the wonderful Alaskan summer days.
In barbecues, all would gather together and while drinking local beer and joke around. They would try to catch and control their wild dogs, that sometimes would reach the number of 10 or more, not listening to any of their masters.
One of the most mouthwatering memories of the barbecues that I can clearly remember was my friend standing next to the grill and turning steak and ribs of elk and moose to the either side.
My summer included countless dishes of fresh Alaskan prawns and Alaskan salmon that were freshly caught, with fresh herbs from the garden. Also, the moose steak that our neighbour John brought and the magical cookies of the granny.
Food was not the only thing amazing during my visit in Alaska. On my way to work, I’ve met a huge black bear that made me forget all the precautionary measures.
I encountered that graceful creature during one morning, I had just woken up and I was drinking my morning coffee while suddenly I saw people running like crazy – “athletes” I thought, but then I saw a big black bear slowly walking in behind them.
We lived surrounded by wilderness. The beauty of Alaskan nature is hard to describe. Many times I ran into a bear, many times I ran from a moose and many times I accidentally met bears with her cubs.
Those were life-threatening situations that stay in my mind forever and I could call them the most beautiful.
We lived in a tiny city that was in the middle of the rainforest, so a ten-minute walk would lead me to a stunning waterfall, half an hour hike up the mountain would lead me to the most scenic panoramas, where evidence of human existence would be hardly traceable and you would be lost in the beauty of Alaska.
For more stories follow us on our website: www.thirdculturekidglobal.com