By Fanyue Sun, CIEE Work & Travel USA 2018 participant
My name is Fanyue Sun. I am a friendly and sunny 20-year-old university student from Tianjin, China. I am studying at Tianjin Foreign Studies University as a junior student, majoring in English and International Journalism. To fulfill my dreams and widen my horizons, I made a huge decision to participate in the Work & Travel USA program and came to the United States for the summer of 2018.
My summer was a fantastic time. It was my first time living without my parents and it gave me so many first time experiences, from how to open a bank account to how to cook for myself. This summer, I worked as a cook at a resort in a small Colorado town called Estes Park. I have never been a cook before, so at the beginning of the job, I felt it was very hard. Both learning how to cook and how to speak English all day were big challenges for me. Fortunately, my team worker and lead cook was really kind and friendly; she is a French girl from Lyons, France. She had an internship training in this restaurant. Honestly, I was very appreciative of what she did for me, how she helped me to write down every ingredient that the kitchen had, and to remember every step and key point of cooking. If it weren’t for my French friend, I may have given up. The HR manager, the food manager, even the front desk manager were also very eager to help me adjust to my new job, my new housing, and with new activities and traveling. I was so thankful for their help.
Estes Park is surrounded by so many mountains. In my free time, I took the free hiker shuttle to Rocky Mountain National Park. Or sometimes, after work, I’d ride a bicycle to the lake and read a newspaper. These quickly became my favorite things to do as the summer went by.
I met a lot of international students and Americans, too. But one of the most interesting people I met, who remains a deep influence and a good friend to me, is the son of my HR manager. His name is Zander. He is a high school student who worked in the same restaurant as me. We worked in the same position so we worked together and hung out together. He took me to his high school, gave me a tour of the whole school, including the history of the school. I even got to watch a volleyball game between his school team and another high school team from another city. That was a really amazing time. We still keep in touch through email and Facebook even if we are living in two different countries, we are only separated by miles, not our thoughts.
My dream is to be a journalist or video editor, so while I was spending time in America, I knew wanted to get in touch with someone who worked in the news industry. I had read some major American newspapers and I found it interesting to see what the local newspapers would publish in comparison. For example, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times print international news each day. The Estes Park News (that is the only newspaper in Estes Park) publishes what happens in town, like events that were for the people of that town or the visitors. Sometimes it was like a guidebook to broadcast events that had happened or would be happening. I talked to the Human Resources manager at my summer job and told her about my dream. She recommended that I send some of my photos and videos to the Estes Park News. So I did! And I was very lucky because the Estes Park News gave me the opportunity to fulfill my dream and published my article and photos.
During this short three-month period, there were three big events: a 4th of July Independence Day celebration, a Rooftop Rodeo, and an Irish and Scottish festival. I took part in all of these events, and each of them gave me a totally different feeling to taste local American culture. The fireworks, the parade, the spirit of western America, and the patriotism when they sang the National Anthem, all left an impression on me. When I watch my videos or look at the pictures I took, and describe it to my friends and family back home, I still feel a little emotional. I am very happy and appreciate all the things that I experienced on this trip. I think this time in the United States will help me be confident to conquer any challenges I will face in the future. I learned to be firm in one belief; if I believe I can do it, then I believe that I will, no matter what.