We asked one of our participants in the 12 month Summer Work and Travel program to share some of the highlights of her trip with IENA. Stephanie is coming to the end of her year in the US and writes about her best experiences below.
Participant Name: Stephanie Kutty
What program are you on? 12 Month Summer Work Travel
Home country: Australia
Work location: Los Angeles
What is your favorite memory from your time in the US?
This is a hard answer. I have done so many incredible things! I guess my top would be heading to Colorado Springs with a few friends, renting a car and after hiking the Garden of the Gods, we drove 4 hours to Aspen just to experience real Hot Springs in the winter. The hot springs faced a lake and the mountains. So we sat in the hot springs gazing at the stars by candlelight. That was incredible. I think a tie would be geeking out at Harry Potter World in Universals Studios for my birthday last year and being picked by Ollivander as the chosen wizard.
Tell us about what your experiences with American culture and what you learned while in the US.
PUMPKINS! Since Halloween just passed…we experienced everything to do with the holiday I had no idea about. It was the first time I had even been to a Pumpkin Patch. I went on a Hayride, ate real pumpkin pie and made it through a life-sized Corn-Maze. I carved my first pumpkin for a competition at work – I made a Cookie-Monster. It was awesome! I also won 2nd place for my “Wizard of Aus” costume – Toto was a Koala. With all the activities going on, Trick- or-Treat, costumes and preparing all for Halloween, felt very family orientated. I did all these with my room-mates and friends and when we went to places, families were all for it. I couldn’t believe the amount of people dressed up in costumes on the streets for Halloween. Super cool!
Speaking of family events. I love that! Last year I celebrated Thanksgivings for the first time and it falls on my Birthday so it was double special event. I love all the food in the US. Groceries are super cheap and easy to get. Take-away places are everywhere but I also love finding little hole-in-the-walls where-ever we go. Breakfast diners are my best find! Foxy’s in Glendale even gave us our own toaster for the table! And the Griddle Cafe in West Hollywood – the pancakes were bigger than my head!
I have found so many cool FREE things to do since being here. Like over the weekend, I experienced Day-of-the-Dead at Olvera Street. The costumes, the makeup, the dancing and the food was so much fun! We found a hole-in-wall restaurant that only had 6 tables and the line was incredibly long but worth it for $6 quesadillas.
Other things I have experienced; hiking Griffith Observatory, Runyon Canyon, Echo Mountain & a number of other trails in Pasadena, sailing with dolphins at Dana Point, LA County Fair at Pomona, Memorial Day Fair at Santa Anita, tailgating at the Rose Bowl for 4th July and having a bon re at Dockweiler Beach watching the Planes go by whilst the sun sets. These are a just a few I can remember for now.
I have also been to San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Lancaster Poppy Fields and Colorado Springs. Before heading back to Aus, I will embark on my first actual Road Trip for 11 days to Lake Tahoe, Salt Lake City, Monument Valley and Zion National Park. I am super excited for that!
Sports: I went to my first NBA game: Lakers vs Wizards! I took my Mum who came to visit me so that was amazing! She had never been to a game either; I also went to a Dodgers game where they gave us a free T-shirt!
As for celebrities; I went to Ellen Show and came back with gift vouches and Under Amour sports bag. I also went to Bryan Cranston’s book signing and watched Stronger where Jake Gyllenhaal himself, turned up to do a Q & A about the lm! Amazing.
All up I learnt that Los Angeles; well California is HUGE and there is just so many unique and wonderful things you can do here from networking events to help your career to the wildest events you could imagine like the Ice-cream Museum (which I am totally going to).
What have you learned during this program that you will take with you into your future career?
I have learnt so much! I came here not knowing what to really expect. I have learnt different aspects of the lm industry. I was a Volunteer at American Film Institute last year and met a few lm-makers that became my friends and that now we are collaborating for a short; I joined the Murder Mystery Company that taught me so much about interactive theatre and how being flexible with your craft is important for audience participation and I’ve learnt that there are many avenues that you can broaden your craft. I had also worked for Standardized Patients for USC Keck Medical school where you take on the role of a patient and Medical Students interview you to assess your reason for seeing a clinician. I felt like I was really helping them with their interpersonal skills because I got to give feedback on how they were approaching the interviews.
What advice would you have for an individual looking to come to the US?
Do it! It is just an amazing experience. Besides the crazy amounts of tourist things you can do! There is so much to learn from the way different industries work here. So many things you can learn from being around different people even in different jobs to you. If you find work that is flexible you will be able to have a balance of work and fun. Not everything is expensive and if you look hard enough you will and fun things to do within your budget.
Thank you Stephanie for sharing your experiences with IENA!
For more information about the 12 month SWT program visit http://www.iena.org/programs-to-the-us/aus-nz-12-month-work-travel-program/