Yaryna Balabanyk serves as an intern with HIS Capital Group operating from her home in Ukraine. We asked her to share her thoughts about her first trip to the U.S. which as it turns out was her first trip outside her country.

Once upon a time, I had a big dream. Furthermore, I’ve made a lot of efforts to achieve my goal and at last, my dream came true!  I still can’t believe it, but recently, I visited the United States of America.

There was a lot of fuss with accumulating the documents necessary as well as, preparing for my first trip not only to the USA, but anywhere away from home. First an interview at the American Embassy and then the wait for that happy moment of receiving my first American visa. Step by step getting closer to my dream though I never considered a 20-hour transit by way of 3 separate flights.

When I met Rick Melero 2 years ago in Ukraine, I never thought that I would become a little part of his big company. I received an opportunity to cooperate with his team or as I learned later it was called an internship. Rick promised me, that I could visit the Unites States as an intern, if I did my best at work. His words became a big motivation and a stimulus for me to work hard and consistently.

Step by step I improved my skills, learned something new, perfecting my level of English etc. This made it quite a busy lifestyle for me during last 2 years along with going to school. I wanted to prove that I belonged working with a big real estate company.

At last, the day arrived, I received my visa and travel tickets. The first flight in my life was amazing!  Furthermore, as I mentioned it was my first trip anywhere and especially alone.  I’m hoping the words “first time” will be used many more times during the next week.  Finally, looking out the window there it was, Orlando!

During the flight I learned that Orlando is a tourist-friendly city, because half of the passengers on our plane were wearing T-shirts with Mickey Mouse. Of course, there were many children on board who made a lot of noise expecting to meet their favorite Disney characters.

Two little girls were sitting next to me, they were about 5 years old. They decided to show me all the Disney accessories they had with them. One of them asked me where I am from so I decided to show Ukraine on a map, because she is too small to know geography. So, she returned the favor took a piece of paper and crayons and started painting the American flag and described what each color means. She told me that in this way I can learn something more about America. At this moment I was thinking: “Am I in the United States? Am I dreaming?” Luckily, it’s reality!

I was met at the airport by open-hearted Sam Ally and was really glad to meet him in real life. We had a sweet conversation he asked me about life in Ukraine, but I wanted to know more and more information about the United States. We left the airport by car & while driving to the café, I was feeling like I am inside of an American movie. But it was my movie and I was the main character!

By the way, everyone here was smiling and most of the people are friendly and polite. Strangers ask you how you are doing and wish you a good day. Unfortunately, it differs from Ukrainian mentality. Usually, we don’t have such affable behavior. During the trip I lived in Rick’s Melero house & his wife Rochelle cooked tasty breakfasts for me making me feel like her daughter.  I had many unforgettable adventures with Rick’s daughter and son too and I hope they enjoyed spending time with me as much because we had a great time all together.

I will never forget our day trip to Disney. I didn’t expect to see the huge size of this park and to be honest I am not sure if I visited even a half of the attractions. Definitely, one day is not enough to discover all of them. “Wow” was the only word that described my emotions.  I had the best guides ever in the Disney World as Rick’s kids Kailey and Elijah showed me the best rides in the park. Unfortunately, my day at Disney was passing fast, and not without a little bump in the road.

As the end of the day was unfolding, I realized that I have lost my phone. It’s a pity, it was only the second day of my stay in Orlando. Thousands of photos, hundreds of contacts and dozens of important documents were gone. On the one hand I was disappointed and depressed, but on the other hand it was simply the first challenge in my trip. The point is that I could easily live without social media and an opportunity to spend more time concentrating on work which was the main purpose of my trip after-all. Different notifications wouldn’t distract me, so I could talk more with my American friends. Furthermore, every moment I etched on my memory, instead of taking photos, posting them in the social media and checking likes every minute. A phone is just a thing, it is hard to imagine life without it, but it is possible. Moreover, it’s even easier and I have proved it to myself that it’s not the biggest value in life.

Talking about my trip over the ocean, I must admit that I came here not to have a rest, but to work hard. I hoped to get inspired by my coworkers and bring this productivity back to Ukraine. To tell the truth I really did it! Some words about the team all members are really friendly and kind to each other. It is never quiet here, in spite of being busy with work. From time to time you can hear some jokes and laughing and everyone is ready to help you and give useful advice. I found in this cheery atmosphere it is easy to be productive.

I was impressed by the rational use of time by my American co-workers. In Ukraine it slightly differs. First of all, my co-workers follow a schedule during the day & as a result, the productivity is much higher. There is no time for useless things and every spare minute is spent with benefit. They even have planned lunch meetings during work & some people make important calls while driving. It’s a pity, it doesn’t concern Ukraine, as only a small percentage of people in my country have a plan for the coming week. As for me, I have never followed a schedule but now I have a new habit and every day is planned. Finally, I stopped working at night and I get enough sleep. In addition, I am trying to keep up with the deadlines. Scheduling made me more disciplined, helped me to set the priorities and find time for family. From my point of view, it was the second challenge in my trip.

The third challenge was the hardest one, finding my way back home. Firstly, I had a flight from Orlando to New York, & the next one was to Warsaw (Poland) and the final destination was Kyiv (Ukraine). Unfortunately, my flight in New York was delayed for 2 hours and as a result, I missed my plane from Warsaw to Kyiv. As I mentioned before it was my first trip by plane and I had no idea what to do in such situation but luckily, I wasn’t alone. There were also a couple of people from Ukraine stuck in the same situation, so you could say I was fortunate during an unfortunate time.

The airlines tried to solve this problem and depart all of us to Kyiv and finally, the solution was to route us to the capital of Ukraine via Munich. It was the extension of an exhausting way home as upon arrival in Kyiv the adventure continued as I found out that my luggage was lost.  Firstly, I felt miserable but then I pulled myself together and tried to find the Lost and Found area. After filling in the application form for returning the suitcase, I was able to breathe easily again.

To sum up, it was the most unforgettable and adventurous trip in my life. I will never forget all the hurdles as they became a big lesson for me. I understood that panic never helps and overcoming challenges can help make people grow and become self- assured. Now I am ready for any force majeures and I am not afraid to struggle with them.

 

Yaryna Balabanyk

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