Åsa studies at Karlstad University in Sweden, during her summer break from the university she decided to spend her time working in Yellowstone National Park in California, and we asked her a few questions about how her summer is going...
How come you chose to apply for a summer job in Yellowstone?
I wanted to use my summer to see something new, but with a student budget it's hard to afford to only travel for a whole summer. So I thought, why not work and travel?
Did you know anything about Yellowstone before you applied for the position?
I didn't know anything about Yellowstone before I applied for the job, I had only heard the name before.
How would you describe Yellowstone?
It's huge. And beautiful. And there are so many places to discover and see that I feel like one summer is not enough. And it's super-easy to meet new people here, because most people come here without knowing anyone, so everyone's open to meet new people.
What were your expectations before you arrived to the U.S.?
I tried to keep an open mind about how things would be here, so I didn't have a lot of set expectations before coming here. But I expected to meet new people and experience the nature around Yellowstone and I really have and it's better than I expected.
What has been different than you imagined?
I didn't think that the people working here would be from so many different places in the U.S. and the world or that there are people in all ages and with all sorts of reasons for coming to Yellowstone. The diversity makes it very interesting. I also appreciate a lot of things with Sweden that I take for granted, like free university and things like that.
What has been the greatest challenge?
The first few days were hard because everything was new. Sometimes it can be hard to stay open-minded and not to judge people that have very different thoughts and opinions than I have. But it's a good thing to develop I think!
How does one day at your job look like?
I work in fast food and we have different shifts every day with different work tasks, which is good because I have learned a lot and it doesn't get boring. One day I might work 2pm-10pm on the grill and then I make burgers all night, it's a nice shift because there are a lot of people working in the evening so we can talk and help each other during the shift. It can be stressful at times but usually everyone helps out where it's needed so everything usually works out fine.
Another shift can be “runner” 6am- 2pm. Then I collect and control all orders and call out order numbers to the guest. Being a runner is nice because you get to interact with both the kitchen crew and the guests. A good thing with both of these shifts is that you can go hiking or go on a trip or just hang out with friends before or after your shift.
What do you do on your spare time?
I have done a lot of hiking, which is really nice because I get to be with my friends, work out and see new places at the same time. When I have days off I try to go on different organized trips in Yellowstone and the area around the park. For example I've been to a rodeo, a volcano tour, a swing dance party and some other trips to cool places. In the evenings we often play board games or eat pizza at the employee pub.
What transportation do you use?
We have a recreation department that offers trips to different locations. Otherwise we find someone with a car or walk.
A lot of people hitchhike!
Can you tell something to our readers that is good to know before they decide to do the same journey as you?
Just do it! But make sure to use the time you have to meet new people and explore new things and places. And if something doesn't feel good there are a lot of people here that can help you to make it better, maybe by switching rooms or work position.
What is the best and most memorable experience you have gained from your stay abroad, so far?
Going to the rodeo and listening to the national anthem while holding a cheeseburger in one hand and the other on my heart on the third day I was here was something special! I felt very American haha!
Otherwise both my volcano trip around the park and my trip to Canyon were amazing.
And it's incredible to see all of these new places with people that are close friends to me now, even though I hadn't even met them a month ago.
Thank you Åsa for the interview! Find us on Instagram (@tnwpassage) for more pictures from Yellowstone!
If you too are keen on a summer job in Yellowstone next year, you can find more information about the summer work & travel program here
Want to know what a J-1 Internship in the U.S. is really like? Read our interns' success stories and get their top tips.