The “Work and Travel” program annually attracts thousands of Romanian students who hope for a job and a memorable trip across the ocean during the summer holidays.
After the US Embassy issued just over 400 travel visas in 2020, the program has once again taken off and nearly 2,500 students are in the United States, where they are experiencing American living.
“My job was as a lifeguard. I can’t say it’s a very lucrative job. Sometimes we work 6 hours, sometimes 12 hours, sometimes 14 hours, depending on how long the park was open “, said Irina Claudia Marin, a student who left with the Work and Travel program.
Almost 2,500 Romanian students received a visa this year to enter the USA – a quarter compared to 2019, when the highest number of students participating in the program was registered. Adelina worked all summer in a California restaurant.
Adelina Muntean, student: I wake up every day at 7. It can be a pleasant job, but for me it was a lot, a lot of work, but I liked it, working in the kitchen.
Reporter: How many of you are in the house?
Adelina: We’re about 40. There are 2 beds, so far I’ve been with someone, now I’m alone.
Although they want to live the American dream when they cross the ocean, many students face a reality that does not live up to their expectations. Some find it harder to find a home and have high expenses.
“You have to calculate to work at least two jobs and come back with some money, otherwise … yes, you only have to travel with one job, but you don’t have enough,” Adelina added.
There are over 20 agencies in Romania that mediate communication between students and employers and help them with all the employment and travel documents they need – these services cost around $ 2,000.
“Students go to the restaurant area, to hotels, well-paid jobs, they generally run after positions that offer them tips. And there are students who go on the side of $ 15 / hour, $ 13 / hour “, explained Cătălin Iova, director of cultural exchange programs.
There are young people who also apply for bank loans so that they can pay the registration fee and the plane ticket. Some banks offer special loans for “Work and Travel” of up to $ 4,000, which students must repay within two years of returning from the United States.
The latest statistics show that Romania is among the countries with the most students who left for the United States, through the Work and Travel program.