By Adrianna Rutkowska and Beata Jażdżyk, J-1 Interns from Warsaw, Poland
Upon first meeting the both of us, we may seem like two completely different people. However, having two passions in common—horticulture and a curiosity about the world—has sparked a close friendship.
We first met as students of the University of Life Science in Warsaw. After graduation, we both decided to apply for a J-1 internship via an international exchange program at Ohio State University specializing in horticulture, agriculture and turf grass. Upon being accepted, we were placed in Oakland Nursery in Delaware, Ohio, to study ornamental plants.
Our concerns over our English language skills were surpassed by the excitement of the trip. Our Polish accents turned out to be an advantage! The customers of Oakland Nursery were interested in our story and excited to meet us. This made our job of helping them a very rewarding experience.
Words cannot express our happiness with the experience. At Oakland Nursery, we sell horticultural products and plants. Aligning with our passion for ornamental gardening, we take care of annuals, perennials, bushes and trees. Expanding our knowledge of plants and learning about habitats and the requirements of native plants has been rewarding. Daily contact with customers has also helped us improve our English skills. Our happiness is a result of having worked with wonderful and helpful people who have warmly welcomed us. We feel like important members of the team.
As J-1 interns, we developed a passion for traveling. We were able to connect, work and explore the United States. Our first adventure was a road trip to California and Nevada. We visited Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite Park, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and the Grand Canyon. Later we decided to go on to Chicago, Toronto, Niagara Falls, New York and a few places in Ohio, including Columbus, Cincinnati and Hocking Hills State Park. Those travels showed us the diversity of this large country. We are looking forward to our last trip to Miami in January 2017.
People here are very open and friendly and as a result, we’ve made many friends. Spending free time with Americans is the best way to learn about local culture. It was thrilling to celebrate new customs, such as observing Independence Day with fireworks and Halloween with trick-or-treating. Hanging out with friends at restaurants, concerts, festivals and by the fireplace keeps us very busy after work. Sailing and flying in a private plane have been extraordinary adventures. We are also promoting our culture by preparing Polish dishes, such as pierogi, in addition to sharing the history and current political situation of Poland.
To our surprise, our life here is not much different from Poland. Nonetheless, we feel strange when cycling to a store. At times, drivers will stop and look suspiciously at us because they are not used to sharing the road with bicyclists.
We didn’t expect the time to go by so fast. Ten months abroad may seem scary but when you are living life to the fullest, the time goes quickly. Participating in the J-1 program was the best decision of our lives.
Categories: Program Spotlight
|About G. Kevin Saba|
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange
G. Kevin Saba serves as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). In this capacity, he oversees the Exchange Visitor Program, which brings around 300,000 foreign citizens to the United States annually to teach, study, and build skills. He is the Director for the Policy and Program Support Division in ECA’s Office of Private Sector Exchange.Read More
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