The SWT Alumni Association Tackles Student Questions About the U.S

Photo from Mariya S. Taken at Fort Walson, Florida during her time on SWT.

At outreach events around Bulgaria in the last few weeks we have heard a lot of interesting questions about life in the United States on the Summer Work and Travel Program. To help answer some of these questions, we asked the SWT Alumni Association to offer their opinions and experiences in dealing with these same issues.

The questions below have been answered by Mariya S. an alumna of the SWT Program who went to Florida for three summers. She is now an active member of the Alumni Association. Thank you Mariya for taking the time to answer students’ questions!

If you have more questions, please leave a comment below, contact us on Facebook or send us an email. We’d be happy to post updates and provide more insight.

  1. How do I find housing in the U.S while on SWT?

Answer: “If you are in your first summer in US this is almost impossible. You can find one if you have some native friends or live with some other SWT Students.”

2. How do I find out about local laws in the U.S?

Answer: “There are a lot of signs and brochures in the US (on the street, in the shops, gas stations) and they are very visible so you can find then easy. For example if you want to buy a bike in the shop they will inform you what else you need so you will not be out of the law.”

3. How do you organize travel in the U.S?

Answer: “Online is one of the best ways in the US.”

4. What kinds of things does the Alumni Association do?

Answer: “Networking between the alumni. Connecting alumni with some businesses so they can find jobs or internships in Bulgaria. Advice for some companies, advice for some jobs in US, and some interesting places to visit.”

5. Is there a fee to join the Alumni Association?

Answer: “No it is for free. You just need to have enthusiasm to help the people who were or will go to US.”

Photo from Mariya. Taken in Florida while on SWT.

6. Is it hard to make friends with Americans while on SWT?

Answer: “No, it is not. The Americans are one of the most friendly people in the world because they live in a huge country and they are really used to the variate of cultures, people, languages.”

7. Do you spend all of your money on housing, food and travel, or do you save some?

Answer: “ Of course you can save not just some but a lot. From my 3 summers of experience, you work one week for food and oneweek for housing and the money from the next 10–15 days you can save.”

Photo from Mariya, who took the photo while in Florida on SWT

8. Can I have another job while I am in the US?

Answer: “Yes you can find a second job but this is easier untill the end of June. After that most of the job position are occupied already.”

9. Will I experience culture shock?

Answer: “I don’t think so. I know so much about the US from the movies in the last 10–15 years. You can even see a lot of the view from the movies when you get there. For example Niagara falls, the Hollywood sign, the street in San Francisco etc.”

10. Can I drink if I am under 21 while in the U.S? I am from Bulgaria, not the US.

Answer: “ No you can not. The Law in US is very strong and strict. You can have a black stamp if they catch you drinking before 21 there and even go to jail.”

11. Do people understand Bulgarians who have accents?

Answer: “ Yes they do and they really enjoy our way of speaking.”

Photo from Mariya, who took this photo at a zoo in Florida while on SWT

12. Do I need an international driver’s license to drive in the US on SWT?

Answer: “In general, no. The sheriffs from Florida told us to drive with our Bulgarian driving licence.”

13. What advice do you have for first time SWT students?

Answer: “Don’t go alone. Go with a company from BG. Take just a few clothes as you can buy new and fancy in US. Don’t take with you toilet paper. They have it.”


Thank you again to the Alumni Association and to Mariya, who took time to answer these questions for SWT prospective students. Learn more about the Alumni Association.