Many young people share the dream to live in the USA, at least for a while. This experience is from a guy from Croatia who did exactly that. He was working in a restaurant in Cape May. Read more if you are interested in doing work and travel in New Jersey!
I would love to share one travel story with you and hopefully inspire you to try something similar!
The story goes like this…
One day, I was drinking a coffee with my friend in Varaždin and he asked me why I don’t apply for Work & Travel in the USA. At that time, I was the most unconfident guy whose only objective was to finish college as fast as possible and then find a job.
When I reflect on that, it was so funny as today I would say I’m a completely different person, but that’s the story for another post. Let’s stick to this one!
So, long story short, I actually applied for work and travel visa in New Jersey and went to the USA for three months!
In this article, I will share the most memorable moments and stories with you! Some of them were crazy while others were sad and breathtaking.
The purpose of this article is to show you how beautiful the world is and how many great moments you can experience and people you can meet if you go just a bit outside of your comfort zone!
Sit tight as this article is going to be a bit longer! Let’s start!
Where Has Everything Started?
I don’t want to write a whole book, so I’ll be short here – Cape May, New Jersey.
It seems like it was easy to get there, but believe me, the trip was a crazy thing with so many experiences happened to me in just one day.
Actually, everything went smooth, except that I paid for a taxi from Belgrade centre to the airport a whopping $20 to a shady taxi driver. I’m smiling at that experience now, but at least I arrived at the airport in one piece.
Next thing I remember is me sitting in the airplane looking outside the window. The plane was still on the track. My heart started to pump like crazy and my palms started to sweat. That was the moment I knew, we’re going to fly and I was so scared of height!
I still remember when wheels set off from the ground! Oh man, in seconds we were overlooking Belgrade (such a magnificent view).
I don’t believe there is anyone who is staring out the window during the whole trip! I was so amazed by the view and so consumed in my thoughts that I literally stared all the way to Paris.
Next thing I remembered was wondering about the size of Paris airport. Man, that airport is HUGEEE that you literally drive around terminals in a bus!
Layover in Paris
I had a layover of around 3 hours and it was so funny when I stumbled upon PS4s. I tried to play something, but I was so tired that I didn’t find a way to turn on that thing. After some time, I realized the gate for my flight was opened, so I went there to check out how to proceed.
I will tell you something now – if you’re flying to the USA, the immigration officers are CRAZY!
The woman immediately asked me so many questions about my visa and why I’m going there. That was the moment I realized that I don’t speak English well at all! It made me think about how I was going to work in the restaurant as a server with my broken English.
Anyway, after 20 minutes of speaking with that lady, I passed the control and found myself on the plane again. This time, I was a bit scared as I knew I’m leaving Europe for 3 months which was a huge thing for me, and still is!
The next thing I remember was the scene below:
Maybe it doesn’t show much to you, but the land you see is the eastern coast of the USA. Oh boy, that was the time my anxiety kicked in! I was so mindfucked with the fact that I actually did it! This was the point of no return!
We’re doing it, baby! But it was still a long way to Cape May.
Amazing Little Town at the Southernmost Point of Jersey Shore – Cape May
When I finally arrived in Cape May after the longest bus ride of my life, Petra and Joka (two girls from Croatia who were already there, now great friends) waited for me for I guess a few hours!
I met a Serbian guy on the way to Cape May from Philadelphia and stepped in the wrong bus. We went together to Atlantic City but separated our ways in Wildwood.
I was waiting at the bus station for at least two hours until my bus arrived. Now, here’s the funniest story!
If you’re going by the car from Wildwood to Cape May, you’ll probably need around 30 minutes.
I was very optimistic about the ride as I saw a big lady behind the wheel, so I thought she got everything under control. Oh man, how wrong I was!
We were driving around Wildwood for at least one hour until I saw a bus station in Wildwood again. I was so mindfucked at that moment, so I went to ask the lady am I on the right bus! She nodded positively but completely ignored me when I tried to make a joke.
Two and a half hours later I finally arrived!
One important note if you plan to travel by American buses: Always wear long sleeves as they tend to put AC on a freezing temperature. I don’t know the reason though!
Alright, so by now, you may have the idea of how my first trip looked like.
The Life and People in Cape May Were So Chilled and Positive…
That was the main room in our house. I was living in a house in the centre of the town and shared it with 10 or more other people. There were some negative things among people there, but overall, the positives won.
I really had an amazing experience during my stay there as I was living with like-minded people mainly from Europe (Croatia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Poland, Russia).
At the time I arrived, everyone was so busy working two jobs at the same time. I wasn’t lazy, but I was just chilling around and working three to four shifts per week in a restaurant.
You can see in the picture above how my days usually looked like if I was too lazy to get up and go to the beach that was 3 minutes away.
I was so lucky that the ‘Liquor Store’ was also a few minutes away from my home and on the way to my job. I’m a curious person by nature, so I decided I wanted to try as many beers as possible, so it was very rare not to find any beer in the house!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an alcoholic, but if you ever worked a season then you know the importance of that one beer after the hard working day, right?
All Kind of Work and Travel Jobs
I needed a lot of calories to perform all kind of jobs and this one was the funniest one! Yeah, I was actually colouring the furniture for one guy whose family was coming to see him from Sweden (such a cool guy).
He always tended to say I was doing a great job, but later I found out that he was talking I’m the worst painter in the universe. Well, you simply can’t paint furniture outdoors below a tree.
It’s a good feeling when you get $200 for a few hours of bad work! That American logic again!
Anyway, I was so proud of what I did so no one is going to tell a negative thing about my paintings!
When you first arrive at a new place, the time slows down, but after some time, the time will start to move really fast. So fast that you forget you only have one week left in the city you had so great time in.
It’s like a heartbreak. You shared so many great memories with other people and you fall in love with the city and people and now it’s time to move on. I still don’t know to cope with it, but I guess the acceptance of moving should be a trait each adventurer should possess.
My Daily Life in Cape May
A beautiful Island Grill where I was working as a busser. There were so many ups and downs there, especially in my mental state as I was working like crazy during that time in Cape May.
My daily routine when I realized I needed a second job was: Get up at 7 am, show at the first restaurant by 8 am, work till 3 pm, shower and go to another job in 3:30 until 10 – 11 pm.
It requires a lot of mental training to succeed in that, especially if you’re working in dynamic environments, and oh boy, working in a restaurant is an environment you can’t expect resting.
Well, I’m lying here as I remember a few days where I was cutting olives during the whole working time. That thing requires some mental strength!
You’re not ready for restaurant work if you can’t cut olives for at least 5 hours straight! Thank you Josh!
The Best Night of the Trip
Imagine a scene like this: big ocean waves, a spliff in your mouth, sunset on your right, amazing people surrounding you and just being in the moment. It’s hard to explain that particular day, but it was closest to pure happiness I guess!
Also, this is the beach where I spent so much time talking and thinking about life. Sometimes, we spent almost a whole night there just listening to the waves and simply having a great time.
I remembered one night when we went there around 1 am and we planned to watch the sunrise. Man, we spend a whole night on the beach, just being present, looking at the stars, listening to the ocean.
That was one of the most epic experiences I’ve got there as I truly learned how to become grateful for small things.
The only thing that went bad was the actual sunrise was on the other side of the island, so we didn’t catch it, but I believe that night will stay in my life forever!
Last Days in Cape May
By the time Joka, Petra and me left Cape May, the house was already half empty.
You know, I never said that, but I was in a kind of low mood during that time as, let’s face it, it’s hard to say goodbye to someone you maybe never see again. In these two months, we became really good friends and it was time to say goodbye, maybe forever.
So many great things happened in Cape May. Even Artem proposed Lena on the beach!
I still remember us celebrating in the house. Balkan people on my right, Balkan people on my left, you know how that story ended, don’t you?
Well, we ended up so drunk that I was singing Country roads in the middle of the road while we were heading to the beach for a night swim. I remembered people were dancing on my performance, so maybe I’m not that bad singer at all?
Anyway, I just wanted to share the last house party in Cape May in steps:
- We bought a ton of alcohol to properly say goodbye to people
- Me and Matt (a crazy guy from the restaurant) had two bottles of Jack Daniels
- 1 hour later Matt told me if we were running low on whiskey that he would bring a Moonshine
- 1 hour later, I’m drinking a Moonshine with unknown people and everyone was extremely drunk
- Moments later I was at the front of the house, sitting and speaking with one Serbian girl, but I told her something like “I can’t speak anymore, I’m totally drunk.”
- Waking up in the morning still drunk, packing my stuff for the last shift in the restaurant. I saw unfamiliar people waking up around the house, but I just couldn’t give a F**K.
- Trying to drive a bicycle with Artem, but we were still so drunk and we stopped as it wasn’t the best idea
- The hardest day in my life just begun
I was still alive, so at that point, I knew that only something really bad can kill me haha.
That’s my work and travel experience in Cape May, New Jersey. But the trip wasn’t over! Here is an article about my following road trip through the USA!