USA: 26 Days In The USA

a couple months back, I had the opportunity to travel around in the USA after the work part of my Work and Travel USA program ended. before I start… as much as I want to call this A Guide To USA, it’s more like How I Spent 26 Days in USA - a reference rather than a guide. I try to compact as much information while at the same time not make it too overwhelming, so it’ll have the essential information and helpful tips that you’ll need to know. marked with star are the things or food that I’d love to try but alas, didn’t have the time. also, to protect the hosts’ privacy, I’ll only disclose up to the street names of the AirBnbs that I stayed in. I’ll write more details on each individual posts, coming up soon. stay tuned!



Itinerary

finally, after much staring at Google Maps and tracing my options on it multiple times, I settled on something like this that actually make some sense instead of me breaking my bank flying all over America:

Day 1 - Day 3: Washington, D.C.
Day 3 - Day 7: New York City, New York
Day 7 - Day 9: Niagara Falls, New York
Day 9 - Day 12: Chicago, Illinois
Day 12 - Day 15: San Francisco, California
Day 15 - Day 16: Las Vegas, Nevada
Day 16 - Day 17: Arizona
Day 17 - Day 19: Utah
Day 19 - Day 20: Las Vegas, Nevada
Day 20 - Day 21: Death Valley, California
Day 21 - Day 23: San Diego, California
Day 23 - Day 26: Los Angeles, California

once, I took the midnight train and another night, I camped at the airport. so that’s two nights of accommodation missing. also, from Day 15 onwards till Day 23, I joined two friends and we road tripped for 9 days, from Las Vegas all the way to Los Angeles. the compact-car rental was $331 for the entire 9 days.


Washington, D. C.

Getting In

From Williamsburg, VA, I took the Amtrak ($36) + Insurance ($9) with two pieces of free check-in baggage

Accommodation

City House Hostel Washingon D. C. ($77.57 for two nights in a 4-person mixed dorm)

it’s one of the cheaper hostels that’s close to Union Station compared to those that are close to the city center because it doesn’t make sense to for me to stay in the city center.

Getting Around

I personally didn’t take the Metro but walk instead and then took an Uber Share back to my hostel, which cost $4.65. that’s it. but if you want to, you can get a SmarTrip Metro card for $10 with $8 stored value or $30 with $28 stored value. fares range from $1.85 - $6 vary with peak and off-peak hours.

What To Do / Where To Go

  • White House

  • Lincoln Memorial

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

  • National Air and Space Museum

  • National Gallery of Art

  • Library of Congress

  • United States Capitol

  • Newseum*

  • Washington Monument, which you can see from afar from Lincoln Memorial

  • National Museum of African American History and Culture*

  • Tidal Basin

  • International Spy Museum*


New York City, New York

Getting In

From Washington D.C. by Greyhound ($21) with one piece of free check-in baggage

Accommodation

The Local Hostels NYC ($292.34 for four nights in a 4-person mixed dorm)

it is located at the LIC of Queens, an industrial area - five minutes walk to the nearest subway station.

Getting Around

NYC Subway: $32 for a week + $1 for the card or $3 single trip

What To Do / Where To Go

  • take a stroll through Central Park

  • see the city from the Top of the Rock

  • Empire State Building

  • Manhattan Bridge / DUMBO

  • Brooklyn Bridge

  • Battery Park

  • One World Trade Center

  • see the Statue of Liberty at Ellis Island or take the free Staten Island Ferry

  • watch a Broadway show at Broadway

  • Times Square

  • spend an afternoon at The High Line*

  • eat at Little Italy*

  • Fifth Avenue

  • The MET

  • MoMA (free admission every Friday from 4PM - 8PM)

  • Guggenheim Museum

  • Museum of Natural History

What To Eat

  • Shake Shack

  • The Halal Guys

  • Piccola Cucina Osteria Siciliana

  • Raku NYC*

  • One-Dollar Pizzas*


Niagara Falls, New York

Getting In

From New York City to Buffalo by Greyhound ($52), with one piece of free check-in baggage

From Buffalo to Niagara Falls by Uber ($32.77)

Accommodation

Wanderfalls Hostels ($27.22 for a night in a 4-person female dorm)

it’s a house turned into a hostel so it’s small and cozy. the best thing about it? the pancakes for breakfast! best pancakes I’ve ever had.

Getting Around

depending on where you wanna go, but to me it’s not exactly a big town. I tried to walk the first evening, but it scared the shit out of me, so for safety purpose, I always took an Uber when it’s dark but if there’s day light, I walked. there’s no Uber Share in this area.

What To Do / Where To Go In Niagara Falls State Park

  • Observation Deck

  • Maid of the Mist - ferry tour

  • Cave of the Winds - touch the American Falls!

  • Luna Island

  • Terrapin Point


Chicago, Illinois

Getting In

From Niagara Falls to Buffalo by Uber ($39.11)

From Buffalo to Chicago by Amtrak ($60) + Insurance ($17) with two pieces of free check-in baggage

Accommodation

AirBnb @ South Aberdeen Street ($153.48 for two nights for two person)

Getting Around

Bus: $2.50 single trip
Bus and Rail: $3 single ride or $10 for one-day disposable Ventra ticket (24 hours)
Bus and Rail: $10 for 1-Day CTA Fun Pass or $20 for 3-Day CTA Fun Pass

I only took the Metro once before my friend came with his rental car. with it, the parking fees meant the death of our wallets. it didn’t make the travel time shorter in the city center. but seeing that we stayed somewhere quite far away from downtown, it helped a little. you can get more details on getting around the city here.

What To Do / Where To Go

  • see the city from high above of Willis Tower or 360 Chicago

  • Cloud Gate

  • Millennium Park

  • Crown Fountain*

  • Buckingham Fountain*

  • The Art Institute of Chicago

  • catch a game at Wrigley’s Field

  • watch a comedy show*

  • Field Museum of Natural History*

  • Lincoln Park zoo*

  • enjoy a cocktail and the night view from The Signature Lounge*

  • Adler Planeterium*

  • Navy Pier*

  • Michigan Avenue Bridge*

  • Lakefront Path

Where To Eat

  • Sun Wah BBQ for their Beijing Roast Duck


San Francisco, California

Getting In

From Des Moines to San Francisco by United Airlines ($278.16 including travel insurance and one piece of check-in baggage, one transfer at Denver)

Accommodation

HI San Francisco City Center Hostel ($183.80 for three nights in a 4-person female dorm)

I personally don’t recommend this hostel, especially for solo travellers. honestly, I don’t feel safe here.

Getting Around

BART: fare varies based on distance, click here to calculate yours
Muni bus: $2.50 single ride on MuniMobile or Clipper Card or cash or $5 Day Pass on MuniMobile
Cable Car: $7 single ride on MuniMobile or Clipper Card or cash
Golden Gate Transit: fare varies by distance and zone, click here for more info

you can get a Clipper Card from Muni Metro, Golden Gate ferry ticket machine or SMART fare machine at $3 with a minimum value. for more information about MUNI fares, you can click here.

I usually take the MUNI bus and although most say that it is a must-do, I never took the cable car. I never plan to take the Golden Gate Transit but somehow got onto one, thanks to Google Maps. it’s a lot faster to get to the Golden Gate Bridge (duh) but slightly pricier. and I only took the BART to and fro SFO airport.

What To Do / Where To Go

  • Golden Gate Bridge

  • Fisherman’s Wharf

  • Pier 39

  • Alcatraz Prison*

  • SFMoMA

  • Chinatown

  • Ghirradelli Square

  • The Painted Ladies

Where To Eat

  • Saigon Sandwich - cheap Vietnamese banh mi

  • Brenda’s French Soul Food

  • The Bird

  • Kitchen Story*

  • Sweet Maple*

  • Sushirito*

  • House of Prime Rib*

  • State Bird Provisions*

  • El Farolita*

  • Limon Rotisserie*


Las Vegas, Nevada

Getting In

From San Francisco to Las Vegas by Southwest Airlines ($179.98 including travel insurance and one piece of check-in baggage)

Accommodation

Ellis Island Hotel Super 8 ($85 for a night for four person)

Getting Around

monorail: $5 single ride or $13 for 24-hour pass (for more different passes you can click here)
Deuce or SDX buses: $6 for 2-hour pass; $8 for 24-hour pass or $20 for three days

we didn’t take any of those and although we have a car, we actually preferred walking the Strip. for more details regarding Las Vegas’s public transport, you can click here.

What To Do / Where To Go Near The Strip

  • watch the Bellagio Fountain Show - and imagine you just pulled a heist on a casino

  • The Mirage Volcano*

  • Paris Las Vegas

  • MGM Grand

  • Luxor Hotel & Casino*

  • Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign

Where To Eat

  • Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen

  • In-n-Out - because the one in Hollywood is always crowded


Arizona

Accommodation

RV AirBnb @ North Smokerise Drive  ($55.60 for a night for three person, can fit up to five)

What To Do / Where To Go

  • Grand Canyon National Park

  • Upper / Lower Antelope Canyon - book your slots earlier!

  • Horseshoe Bend


Utah

Accommodation

Hotel Zion ($129 for two nights for three person)

What To Do / Where To Go

  • Zion National Park - challenge yourself to Angel’s Landing!

  • Northgate Peaks Viewpoint

  • Arches National Park*

  • Bryce Canyon National Park


Las Vegas, Nevada

Accommodation

Main Street Station Casino Street Brewery Hotel ($36.37 for a night per person) - this hotel charges resort fees

What To Do / Where To Go

  • North Premium Outlet

  • Fremont Street*


Death Valley, California

while a lot of friends told us that it’s boring and some people said it’s so empty that it’s eerie, three of us love Death Valley National Park a lot. it’s a desert so bring lots of water with you and always, always make sure your car is in a good condition. you don’t want to be stranded in nowhere with no sight of any other human.

Accommodation

AirBnb @ South Jorgensen Circle ($68.68 for a night for three person, can fit up to four)

What To Do / Where To Go

  • Badwater Basin

  • catch the sunset at Zabriskie Point

  • Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

  • catch the sunrise at Dantes View

  • Ubehebe Crater

  • Artist’s Drive and Palette


San Diego, California

Accommodation

AirBnb @ La Presa Avenue, Spring Valley ($114.43 for two nights for three person)

Getting Around

Old Town Trolley Tours: $35.95 1-Day Tour or $69.90 2-Day Tour

North County Transit District Bus: $1.75 single trip or $5 day pass

we didn’t take any of those because we had a car and we stayed quite far away from the main attractions. for more information on how to get around San Diego, you can click here.

What To Do / Where To Go

  • spend a day Balboa Park

  • Gaslight Quarter

  • watch the sunset at La Jolla Cove

  • Old Town

  • USS Midway Museum

  • San Diego Zoo

Where To Eat

  • Rockin Baja Lobster


Los Angeles, California

Accommodations

Getting Around

DASH Bus: $0.50 single trip or $0.35 single trip on TAP card or $5 7-Day Pass
Metro: $1.75 single trip; $10 1-Day Pass or $25 7-Day Pass (additional charges for Silver Line and Express Buses)

you can get a TAP card (stored value card) at $2 from TAP vending machines in metro stations or on board buses. click here for more information.

be prepared to spend an hour commuting from one attraction to another and expect the bus to be late.

What To Do / Where To Go

  • catch the sunset at Griffith Observatory

  • Walk of Fame

  • catch the sunset at Santa Monica Pier

  • Walt Disney Concert Hall

  • LACMA

  • The Broad

  • Hollywood sign

  • see the city from high above at L.A. City Hall for free*

  • Venice Beach*


Driving in USA

as far as I know, the Malaysian driving licence—the new, hard one, not the old laminated one, works just fine in most states there. so long as the vital infos are in English and Americans can understand, you should be okay. we went on the road-trip without any IDP. none of us.

if you want to be on the safe side by getting an International Driving Permit, you have to do it here in Malaysia before you depart. as a foreigner, you cannot get an IDP in the US. it is only valid if you also have your driving licence with you and the current fee in Malaysia is RM150.

as for car rental, you need a car insurance which usually already comes under the rental. if you’re 25 and under, you’re subject to a “Young Renter Fee” or “Underage Fee” to compensate the rental company for extra risks. however, there are ways that you could get away with it. I know a friend who rented a car from Kayak.com and managed to waive it.

remember to download an offline map and star places of interest, or learn how to actually read a paper map before you leave for your adventure. expect to have bad to no cellular service on the road. know the basics like how to change a tyre, etc. for emergency. be careful with your valuables and personal belongings.


Handy Apps

Travel-focused

  • Skyscanner Travel Deals - flight comparison

  • Hopper - flight prices forecast

  • Expedia - flight tickets purchase, car rental, accommodation search, tour bookings

  • Kayak - flight tickets purchase, car rental, accommodation search

Transportation

  • Enterprise - car rental

  • Turo - car rental

  • Lyft - ride-sharing

  • Uber - ride-sharing

  • Amtrak

  • Greyhound

  • SuperShuttle - airport shuttle

  • Frontier Airlines

  • Alaska Airlines

  • Fly Delta

  • United Airlines

  • Southwest Airlines

  • MuniMobile - San Francisco public transportation

  • New York Subway MTA Map - NYC subway

  • LA Mobile - LADOT Transit ticketing

Accommodation

Tickets / Passes

  • Ticketmaster - concerts / shows / games

  • TKTS - Broadway shows

  • Headout - shows / activities

  • Go City Card - discounted city pass

  • Ballpark - baseball game

Navigation / Tips / Etc.

  • Google Maps - navigation

  • Yelp - food recommendations

  • Companion: Personal Safety

  • Venmo - money transfer

  • Paypal - money transfer

  • The Outbound - activities / attractions recommendations

  • SunSurveyor - for light chasers *smirks*

  • Uber Eats: Food Delivery

  • 7-Eleven, Inc.


USA: A Guide To Work and Travel USA

Work and Travel USA Malaysia Application Guide | A Beautiful Distraction by Ruo Ling Lu

so… I’m back from the Work and Travel USA summer season program after spending three months working in a water park in Virginia and one month travelling to places like New York City and San Francisco.

I’m just gonna cut through the chase and write what I know about the Work and Travel USA program. but before you read on, please know that this is based solely on my experience. you can still ask me about my opinions on simple things but for any important pieces of advice like things regarding money or safety, please consult an agent. also, if there’s anything that I got it wrong here, let me know! :)

Jump to any sections:

Introduction

What is Work and Travel USA

basically, if you’re eligible, you can get a J1 Visa allowing you to work for the summer or winter season in places like theme parks, restaurants, hotels or retails in USA and then another 30 days to explore.

Who can participate?

  • Full-time university student or recently graduated

  • Between the age of 18 and 30

  • Able to stay in the United States for the duration of your program

  • Able to work and live in an English-speaking environment

  • Have approximately 800 USD to support yourself in the first few weeks

  • Capable of performing the tasks in your job description

How long was the program?

including training, I worked for 13 weeks. usually the requirement by employers is to work at least 10 weeks. naturally, the longer period you work, the more money you’ll make.

after your working period, you’re allowed to stay in the United States for another 30 days. some of my peers continued on with their travels to other countries after that 30 days. so, you could be away from home for as long as 5 months. I mean… if you want to escape from your evil witch mother or something… you could consider that. XD

Process

How was the process?

you can sign up yourself without an agent but I reckon it’ll be troublesome. I signed up through Out Of The Box which my friend did too the previous year so I felt that they’re reliable.

as far as I know, there are three agencies in Malaysia, which are:

my experience with Out Of The Box was good. they’re helpful with my concerns, communication with them was clear, and Yeen never forgot to look out for us when we were in the US.

I had an initial interview with OOTB via Skype basically to see how prepared I am to leave home, financially as well as mentally and if my family is well aware of the details.

then, when I’ve signed up with, I’m provided with a list of employers and their details such as hourly wage, location, job description, etc. I was allowed to pick three, just in case I couldn’t make it for the first on my list.

after that, there’s another face-to-face interview with my employer Busch Gardens Williamsburg / Water Country USA.

after I got my job offer, there was the visa interview and an orientation session by OOTB before we headed off.

What documents did I prepare?

  • Proof of study / graduate

  • Passport

  • Bank statement

  • Visa application photo

  • Simple resume

the process was quite hassle-free to me. basically, OOTB would let me know what to prepare and my job was just to get it and then hand it to them. if you’ve passed the interview, you’ll get your DS-2019 form, which is one of the most important documents that will allow you to enter the United States.

What was I asked during the job interview?

it was a simple face-to-face group interview with 5 others. the questions were pretty basic like self-introduction, reason for participating in the program, previous work or co-curricular activity experience. the interview was mainly to see our attitude and English speaking level. all of us passed it.

What was I asked during the visa interview?

it was also a group interview. we were asked about our employer and our rights. I got asked who is funding me and if I was going to consider getting a job there as I’m already done with school.

other questions to expect are questions such as your wages, employer, where are you staying, etc. we weren’t asked to present any documents but it’s always wise to bring them along.

Money

How much did I spend?

I spent roughly a total of RM14,600 upfront. here’s the breakdown of the expenditures:

I paid a total of RM5,450 to OOTB, some of which are subjected to currency rate, which includes:

  • Initial fees: RM420

  • Programme fees: RM4,250

  • SEVIS Fees: RM140 (35 USD)

  • Visa Fee: RM640

I paid RM3,150 for my round-trip air tickets for KUL > NRT > NEW > RIC and then LAX > SIN > KUL.

it was RM2,700+ from United Airline’s promotion but because there were three of us who wanted to fly together, we paid a little extra and let a travel agency to handle that.

I couldn’t remember the currency rate and also I exchanged a number of times but it’s roughly RM6,000 (1,500 USD) for my pocket money. it is actually almost double of what is required (800 USD).

How much did I make from my work?

I earned a total of 4,200 USD after tax. my pay for the first couple of weeks was 9.30 USD and then I got a raise to 9.55 USD after I attended alcohol training, which was provided by my employer. the total hours I worked per week ranged from 30 to 50 hours, depending on the weather, because it’s a water park. I don’t get OT pay because it is a seasonal business.

Did I recover the upfront payment?

I’m just gonna be truthful and say: no.

before you feel disheartened by the news, here’s what you should note:

  • I wasn’t hardworking enough to look for a second job

  • there wasn’t OT pay

  • the rental for my entire period of stay was about 1,000 USD

  • I didn’t travel in a, uhm, budget friendly way

for the one month of travel, I spent about 3,500 USD, which explains why I couldn’t recover the upfront money. the rest of the money went to my living expenses and some shopping. the premium outlet near where I stayed wasn’t helping me much in saving money. :P

I could’ve spent the same amount of money to just travel and not work, so why did I work?

I thought of this too before I went. does Work and Travel USA make a difference? yes.

making money apart, the other thing that I made within those three months are friends and memories. I remember many people crying during my last few weeks there as we parted ways. that’s the kind of one of a lifetime experience you’re gonna have.

the other reason is exposure. I know myself pretty damn well enough to know that I wouldn’t work in a theme park in Malaysia or move out of my house without any strong reason. so it’s a time for me to learn to manage my own money and be independent. it’s also an opportunity for me to improve my interpersonal skills.

that three months were also for me to familiarize myself with the US. with the amount of American media we’re exposed to, there wouldn’t be any huge culture shock lah but there are still those little things like tips, pedestrian crossing, cashless payment, stuffs like that that I’m sure would pretty much make me info overload if I just bam, landed in America and started travelling. and oh, jetlag. it solves the problem.

besides, I wouldn’t make it for my one month of travel if I hadn’t spent the previous 3 months standing at least 8 hours a day and walking so much. the working beat my body up so hard that it can take walking 15,000 steps a day while carrying my camera gears like a breeze.

lastly, the bonus work perk is that I got to enter both the theme park and water park whenever I want, which was quite fun and pretty much what we usually did on our days off. kinda missing the rides now. ;___;

Work

Where did I work and what’s my job scope?

I worked under culinary operations at Water Country USA, a water park under the SeaWorld family in Williamsburg, Virginia. at the beginning we were everywhere in the park but after things settled down, I mainly worked as a cashier selling food. sometimes I sell Dippin’ Dots and sometimes I made food like pretzels, churros and corn dogs. pretty easy stuff - just let the oven handle it. some of my friends ended up serving burgers or frying funnel cakes. it really depends on where each one of us ended up. apart from that, other internationals also worked as lifeguards, area hosts or ride operators at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Why did I choose Busch Gardens Williamsburg?

mainly because I signed up alone so it’s better to look for an employer that provides lodging. my first choice was actually to work in a hotel at Salt Lake City where no lodging is provided. so OOTB had to hook me up with other participants, if there were any to begin with and we had to do our own research and da da da there’s just too much trouble.

another reason would be me not being able to live three months in the nature like national parks. HAHA. Williamsburg is a historical town where there’re chain restaurants, banks and department stores that are easily accessible with public transport, Uber or Lyft. it’s usually about 1 USD - 2 USD each trip if four of us shared a car. we even have a club!

other than that, Busch Gardens Williamsburg hires more than a hundred internationals every year so it’s a great opportunity to make new friends.

generally, the thing I looked out for were things like lodging, location, transportation and weather. the biggest concern to me was being alone.

Insurance and Bank

Was I covered by any insurance?

yes. the type of insurance you’ll get varies from sponsor to sponsor and I didn’t need to pay any extra for mine. I was sponsored by GeoVisions and was covered from when I left Malaysia, including my travel period. as far as I know, the same batch of participants with me who were sponsored by CIEE was covered only during their work period. however, you can always obtain extra insurance on your own or seek advice from your agent.

Which bank did I use?

I opened a BB&T account which is available at my area, but not nationwide. it’s a student checking account that I did not have to close so hopefully there wouldn’t be any problem for my tax refunds. fingers crossed.

before I left Williamsburg, I wanted to have another bank account where the ATMs are pretty much anywhere because ATM charges for withdrawing from a different bank is 3 USD. pretty expensive compared to our RM1 huh. so, I opened a Wells Fargo account, for when I travel but I actually didn’t really need it. it’s more of a just-in-case thing. I had to close the account before leaving the United States because they would start charging me after 90 days upon opening the account.

I don’t know much about other bank services - like if you have to close them or not before leaving, or if there’s any monthly charges, etc. but if you’re looking for one that’s available almost anywhere there’s Bank of America and Chase Bank. I saw Chase everywhere I go but it was until my very last days in the US that I realized they’re not a car company, but a bank. LOL.

another thing I was warned to watch out for is bank overdraft. my friend got into trouble with overdrafts and the bank almost charged him. I almost got into trouble too even though I’ve made sure that my checking account doesn’t allow me to do so. but problem solved, whew.

Travel

Where did I go after the work part ended?

if you want a more detailed guide, you can teleport to my guide to USA. here’s a quick list of places I’ve visited during my 26 days travel:

  • Washington, DC

  • New York City, New York

  • Niagara Falls, New York

  • Chicago, Illinois

  • San Francisco, California

  • Las Vegas, Nevada

  • Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

  • Antelope Canyon, Arizona

  • Horseshoe Bend, Arizonaa

  • Zion National Park, Utah

  • Death Valley National Park, California

  • San Diego, California

  • Los Angeles, California

Suggestions:

  • Orlando, Florida

  • Miami, Florida

  • Seattle, Washington

  • Portland, Oregon

  • Boston, Massachusetts

  • Yosemite National Park

  • Glacier National Park

  • Yellowstone National Park

  • Arches National Park

some of my international friends even went to Canada and Mexico during their work period. I’m not sure how our Malaysian passport can allow us to do so but it’s a great opportunity. start saving places of interest to your Google Maps or Pinterest! it helps when you’re planning for your travels.

Miscellaneous

What did I regret bringing? What did I regret not bringing?

I regretted bringing too many contact lens solution. haha! I ended up carrying two extra travelling bottles back. apart from all that Malaysian food, whatever that you can get in Tesco / Jusco here, you can get from Walmart / Target there. we also get some things for dirt cheap price at secondhand store like Goodwill and Dollar Tree.

as for anything I regretted not bringing… I think I’m pretty well-packed. XD but if you’re a shutterbug like me, don’t forget your lens hood like I did. :(

What useful apps did I use when I was there?

  • U by BB&T - banking

  • Wells Fargo - banking

  • Venmo - money transfer

  • Splitwise - splitting money with friends

  • Yelp - food recommendations

  • 7- Eleven - convenient store

  • Target - department store

  • Walmart - department store

  • Food Lion - department store

  • Amazon - online shopping

  • Uber - e-hailing

  • Lyft - e-hailing

I’ll put together another list for apps I used for travel purpose in the coming post.

How did I survive there?

well… “survive” would be too strong a word. but the number one tip is: don’t be stupid. if you know there’s a risk in doing something, do some calculations beforehand. if you feel like something is wrong, always follow your intuition. there are also all the general travelling safety tips like keep a copy of all of your documents, let your friends and family know your current status, keep in mind who to go to if you’re in trouble, etc.

also, make friends! there’s a Chinese saying that goes “rely on your family when you’re at home and rely on your friends when you’re out.” look out for each other and let your family know who they are and their contacts and you should be fine.

What is my takeaway from this program?

it would be silly to say that I changed. I mean, even if you sit at home and do nothing for four months you’re definitely bound to change too.

jokingly, it would be learning that everyone cusses and calculates in their mother tongue. I know the melting pot culture in Malaysia makes us cuss mostly in English but try doing Maths, your true colours will appear. XD

jokes apart, I always believe that if you want to learn to swim, then you have to jump into the ocean. reading about people’s journeys and experiences will never beat going out and doing it yourself because you’ll never know what you can do until you meet all sorts of challenges, just like I never knew I am a lot more independent than I let myself to be back at home.

so, good luck in applying, fellow adventurers! I hope this post helps you. :)


MALAYSIA: Pulau Redang, 2017

 

my second time to an East Coast island, I hope you're okay with the photo spam! 

three days of sun, sand and sea. no, wait, the sun went into hiding on the day we left, but at least it's kind enough to wait. twenty-four-seven of the sound of the waves crashing in, the sea breeze in our faces, I'm already missing the beach life! monsoon was approaching when I went, the waves were getting fierce and the boat ride was bumpy but thrilling. it's been more than a year since I went to the open sea, and it's so good to be back! whoever says that turtles are slow, man, you guys should see them swim. it's incredible to think that these giant creatures that we're swimming with are actually older than us. this was my first time getting bitten by sea lice after so many times in the sea, the rashes look scary, but so far my butt and boobs are still intact!

that's all for now, ciao!