Route J-1


Better To See Something Once, Than Hear About it a Thousand Times

Posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2018 at 4:02 pm.

By Branislav Zvada, J-1 Summer Work and Travel Alumni from Slovakia

Watch a video that Branislav’s made about his SWT experience.

Visiting USA has been a dream of mine since childhood. As I’m in my final year of university, I realized that this was my last chance to go to USA through the Summer Work and Travel program. I didn’t hesitate and together with three other friends, I decided to give it a chance and travel. Truthfully, I still can’t believe that I really was in the USA, because the time went by so fast and it felt just like a few days, not a few months. It definitely was the best summer of our lives!

Branislav as a lifeguard and with friends in San Diego

Left: Branislav working as a lifeguard | Right: Branislav exploring the San Diego with his friends

We worked as lifeguards at swimming pools. It was interesting and also important work. I was really surprised that I received so much respect at the swimming pool. The residents knew that I was the one who could save them if they got injured. After three months of intensive working, my friends and I decided to travel to the West coast. I will sum it up in one word: amazing. It was amazing to see the places, which I saw just in movies and be a part of this world. It’s indescribable. We visited almost all the national parks on the west coast. We were awe-inspired by the natural beauty and panoramic views.

I was surprised by the openness, helpfulness and friendliness of Americans, who welcomed us on every corner. The Summer Work and Travel program gave me so much. My friends and I improved our English language skills. Every minute of every day we were forced to speak English – with people, at work, in shops, at gas stations, all around us we always heard the most used language in the world. Also we met many new people and friends for life not just from USA but from all around the world. Also we learned to be independent, which is very important. It was the first time any of us had lived on our own outside of the comfort of our parent’s home.

Branislav enjoying the view of the Grand Canyon

Left: Branislav on a swing rope in Los Angeles, CA | Right: Branislav enjoying the view of the Grand Canyon

The last day while waiting for our flight to Europe, my friends and I asked ourselves: “Why we didn’t try this before?” What we experienced and saw during the summer was incredible. It was four unforgettable months.

As we say: “The better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.” I think that USA is not just a country, but it’s a lifestyle, which you have to try to truly know it. I recommend to everybody to try it – live and travel through USA at least for a few months and get to know it as a country of unlimited opportunities, where on every corner you can find something new and unexpected.

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.

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