January 6. First Monday of the year 2014. Yet another year has passed. Forgive me for being cliché, but time really flies by so fast.
Technically, time has always been constant. A second is and always will be a second. 2013 was a real challenge for me. A test of independence, self-realization, and faith initiated by my cogent desire for a better future. My ticket to that future-bound train came in a form of an Internship at my second home – U.S.A.
I decided to undergo a 1-year Hospitality Internship at U.S.A. last May 2012. The process is no walk in a park; it’s intensive and quite time-consuming, spanning over 5 months or more. Basically, the participants’ CVs or résumés are handed over to an agency abroad. This agency then scouts for establishments that accept interns. Should they find the applicants interesting and willing to learn, they would inform the agency. Interviews will be conducted by the employers. The number of interviews is ever changing. After a successful interview with the employer, a VISA Interview is then initiated. If granted a VISA, the participants buy a ticket to whichever state they’re bound to, and fly there. The Internship then commences.
Seven of us from the same school applied for an Internship with high hopes. Only four were able to finish the process successfully: Jea, Daphne, JJ, and me. As a bonus, influenced by no one, the four of us were assigned at the Sunny State – Florida. East Coast it is. What a huge coincidence!
Under J-1 VISAs, Jea was assigned at Miami, Daphne at Marco Island, and JJ at Jupiter Island, Hobe Sound, along with me. Although we were at the same state, we were still pretty far from one another. Also, I should mention that although we all applied for the same Internship, the circumstances were different. Jea was assigned to a hotel open year-round. No need for reassignments. Same case with Daphne. As for JJ and me, we landed on Jupiter Island Club, a seasonal country club, employing only for six months. The agency then looked for another seasonal establishment and found Grand Hotel in Michigan.
Jupiter Island Club was my first assignment along with JJ. I admit, I was a little nervous. Knowing that it’s an exclusive club for members-only who demand quality service did not help. Challenge accepted. During my first few days of training, I was already able to grasp the workflow. With my co-workers guiding me and providing useful insight, I was flipping tables like there was no tomorrow.
Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. – Confucius
I provided the members with the best service I could possibly provide. They reciprocated it with praises. Their warm smiles were my sole motivation. Seeing their faces light up with joy was the best reward anyone can receive.
Grand Hotel was my second assignment. The other half of my 1-year Internship. Located in Mackinac Island, Michigan, Grand Hotel lived up to its name. I was struck by the grandeur of the hotel, built of pure Michigan white pine. The hotel is famous for its 660 ft. Front Porch rewarding its guests with a picturesque view of the lake. The hotel is even more beautiful during the winter with a blanket of snow, if only it was open year-round.
My last day of work was on the 29th of October last year. Our J-1 VISAs entitled us a grace period of one month, usually used for packing. We utilized it and tried visiting as many states as we can. During my last time in U.S.A. (last 2011 during college), I was only able to visit New York, Washington D.C., and Virginia. I made sure I would visit more the second time around.
Aside from Florida and Michigan, I was able to visit Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and California. My budget was anything but tight so all these travels were to my liking.
In addition to traveling, my circle of friends expanded and my scope of understanding of the American culture widened. Not to mention I gained valuable hands-on experience in an actual working environment.
Before the end of the year, Yolanda came into picture. Being the strongest storm ever recorded in history, it almost wiped off my entire hometown. The ultimate test of faith. But my faith never wavered. Not one bit.
I’m cutting off this part of the blog. Even up to this day, it pains me to reminisce what happened during Tacloban’s darkest hours. That and I don’t want this post to have a slightly gloomy feel to it. Plus, if you do want a detailed account of the storm from my perspective, I blogged about that previously.
In a nutshell, 2013 was one heck of a rollercoaster ride chock-full of twists and turns. Lives were lost and homes were wrecked. But we had something even more powerful than the cataclysm – HOPE. The one thing no one can ever take away from us. With that, we shall usher in 2014 with our hearts filled with hope.
HAPPY NEW YEAR