When I first found myself thinking about going abroad alone I thought I’d gone mad. It had all started a few weeks earlier, at Lancaster uni, when my best friend took me along to some random presentation by some company called BUNAC.
After hearing about the life-changing opportunity of working abroad all I could think of was living in a summer-long episode of ‘The Hills’. Safe to say that I’d made up my mind: I was in.
BUNAC made planning my working holiday super simple. They provided me with a job database with partner companies in the US who hired British students enrolled in the program. After a few unfortunate unsuccessful attempts, I finally bagged myself a Skype interview- scary!!! Crazily enough, I was offered the job! It was official: I was off to work in Catalina Island for the summer in a surf wear and gift shop. Best of all, accommodation was included!
The summer that followed changed my life. I know it sounds cheesy (and if you like Doritos, you’re gonna love this) but before I went to the USA I was a shy with not much confidence and little independence and I came back with confidence, life changing experiences and a whole load of new buddies.
Life in Catalina Island can only be described as paradise. Located, 70KM off the shore of Los Angeles, this Grecian-esque small community was an array of golden beaches, tumbling hills and a beautiful small tourist town called Avalon.
I lived in a share house with three other UK students. I guess when you are working and living together you become close very fast. In total, there were 12 UK students working via the Bunac Program in total.
We worked hard. We played hard. When we weren’t at work, we spent our time basking on the beaches, jet-skiing and enjoying the exotic countryside.
The location meant that long weekends in Los Angeles were regular. My friends and I visited Hollywood and Beverly Hills and even went on a celebrity house tour! I continued my slight brushes with fame by watching Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks arrive at a movie premiere; this grew to drinking in bars with the cast from Glee and visiting Universal Studios with an aspiring director. Guess my ‘The Hills’ vision seemed to be coming true…
San Diego was another highlight of the trip: how many people can say that they ate breakfast with a killer whale? We topped this trip off by visiting Laguna Beach and the OC, unfortunately, Seth Cohen was nowhere to be seen!
After my three months of retail work had come to an end, I set about exploring the rest of the west coast. Although I was under 21, I flew to Las Vegas and watched Cirque Du Soleil and was given a tour by a local friend.
I then enrolled on a three day trip with travel company Intrepid, our first stop was the beautiful Arizona desert. I don’t know how I did it, but I combated my fear of heights by climbing one of the most dangerous hikes in the USA, Angels Landing. Luckily, I bumped into a hot topless man half-way up so I obviously couldn’t act like a wimp too much….
We then headed down Route 66 and were given a map by a random cowboy in a gas station- how Clint Eastwood of him! The trip was topped off by a helicopter ride over the astounding wonder ‘The Grand Canyon’- believe me, you have to see it one day!
My final stop in my American adventure was San Francisco, which is literally the coolest place ever! After visiting the spooky Alcatraz prison, I hopped on a tour and went to see the Golden Gate Bridge: truly spectacular! Although I didn’t want to go home, I knew that this was only the start of my travelling adventures!
For more travel and fashion inspiration, follow @rachel_holliday and check out her inspirational fashion blog, The Daily Luxe.