USA, don't knock it until you've tried it
In 2000, I participated in Summer Camp USA. I was a camp counsellor in Minnesota, USA.
I had such an amazing time, that I returned in 2001.
Long story short, I loved it and decided to move to the States. I found a job in the hotel industry based on my New Zealand experience and tried to work my way up.
This is a lot harder to do over here without a degree. So I enrolled at the American Institute of Business (now AIB College of Business) in Des Moines, Iowa and graduated with a bachelors degree in business administration, with a minor in travel and hospitality management.
I began to build connections through the university, and was able to use these connections on top of my degree to land a job as Corporate Sales Manager for the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel.
I met an incredible woman, who I am now married to, and life is great. I wanted to incorporate the New Zealand way of life into our wedding, so we were married in the water at Discovery Cove in wetsuits. It was a small, intimate affair with 32 family members.
Life in Iowa is great because although it is a city the size of Hamilton, it has a small-town feel.
People are incredibly friendly and down to earth.
There are times I miss my family, the ocean, and fishing, but I have it pretty good here. I am grateful to be in the position I am in, considering the economy right now.
Many people have a negative view about the United States, including my family. That was, until they came over for the wedding, and travelled around the country. Their views completely changed and they had an incredible time.
The US gets a bad rap, but I am here to say that it offers much more than what everybody sees in the media.
There are beautiful sights and scenery that match some of New Zealand's spectacular views.
I have even found a bunch of other expats in Des Moines and on New Zealand holidays such as Waitangi Day, we all get together and throw some New Zealand lamb on the barbecue (they sell Kiwi lamb, cheeses, and wines over here - reasonably priced!), and sink a few cold ones.
So, come over and do a bit of sightseeing. As I have always said, don't knock it until you've tried it.