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Lemuel’s Travels: J-1 Internship Goals

Zia Kalong | Oct 26, 2018

The fact that traveling makes people happier is basically a no-brainer, but this Huffington Post article actually explained why traveling significantly lift people’s spirits like no other activity. All 11 points of the article boiled down to a simple conclusion: “Travels leave us with the memories and personal skills - such as confidence, broad-mindedness, friends and a more worldly perspective that make people happy. And that's why travel makes you a happier person.” If there’s anyone who embodied this fact, it would be Lemuel Apilado, VIP Culinary intern at Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. Like many other J-1 Cultural Exchange Program participants, Lemuel is grateful for the opportunity to travel and train in America for a full year.

“My friends and I wanted to have our OJT abroad because it seemed the smarter choice. We heard about VIP from friends who underwent the internship program. We heard a lot of good things about them and the experience so we decided to contact VIP. They were very friendly, helpful and approachable from the beginning of the application until the day we made it to the U.S. They were there every step of the way. We just followed their process and the next thing we knew, we were in the U.S. having the time of our lives!”

But one thing sets Lemuel apart. He wasn’t just happy or grateful for the opportunity. In a span of a year, he didn’t just learn about international hospitality standards. Lemuel had a complete transformation of perspective brought upon by traveling.

“Looking back at everything I’ve experienced, how much I’ve grown, it was truly unbelievable! I’ve always loved traveling. I love going out and discovering new places, exploring cities I’ve never been to before, and capturing moments and memories. I never thought I would ever be able to do the things I did. I will cherish and remember my time here forever.”

“My friends and I flew to Illinois because we wanted to the famous Cloud Gate or The Giant Bean. Then we went ahead to the Willis Tower Skydeck where you can get the best view of the beautiful city of Chicago! At 1,450 ft, you definitely get a decent view of the city’s outline. I’ll be flying to Tennessee tomorrow just to check out the place. I’m also planning to see California and visit some of my friends and relatives there.”

Lemuel is lucky to have travelled and shared those moments with his friends. “It’s good to have your friends with you when you travel or work in a foreign place. It feels amazing to chase your dreams and goals with the people you love and who love you back. We are literally living #friendshipgoals! At the same time, I’ve met all kinds of people and gained new friends whom I now call family. I think it’s all part of the American culture, it’s easy to expand your network here. Of course, nothing’s perfect. I know good times will come and go, but these memories will last forever.”

Lemuel radiated joy and wisdom as if he had travelled every nook and corner of the earth. “The truth is I just feel incredibly blessed. For me, the program doesn’t stop at enhancing your skills or developing your culinary talents. It’s ultimately about enhancing and developing you as a person.” And to further prove he was a real-life ‘Rose-Colored Boy,’ Lemuel claims there was nothing he’d change in his internship experience. When asked about the challenges he must’ve faced in the past year, he answered, “I’ve learned to be an optimistic person, to always look at the bright side of life. Yes, in life we’ll face lots of negative things and run into bad situations especially in the business I’m in, the hospitality industry. But that’s the thing: it’s inevitable. I’ve learned to remain calm in the midst of trials. International exposure stretches your understanding and you learn to be positive instead.”

Not only does travel inspire you to look at the world through rose-colored glasses, it also boosts your creativity. According to this Forbes  article, several studies have studied the connection between creativity and international travel. However, it’s important to consider that “traveling stimulates creativity only when you engage with the local culture of that place. Merely visiting a new city or country isn’t going to cut it.” Basically, you have to  be really immersed in the culture of the foreign place to reap the benefits of travel. This makes J-1 Cultural Exchange Programs the ideal way to invigorate the mind and soul. The year-long programs such as Internship and Traineeship can help enhance “depth and integrativeness of thought” just like what happened with Lemuel whose experience was so transformative that it brought wonder and enlightenment to his world.

“The first time I saw snow falling from the sky, it felt magical. I can’t explain it but I felt so at peace, seeing those snowflakes fall from heaven above. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Wow, I really am in America!’ It was like this magical dream.”

Of all the wonderful things that happened in his internship, Lemuel admitted that there was one thing he never saw coming. “We all dream of a White Christmas, right? But I must say, though that was a real dream come true for me, I consider the people to be the best part of it all. I never imagined they’d be like family to me. They brought so much color to my journey, like a rainbow that made life incredibly bright and wonderful.”