Mackinac Island used to be a turtle island. Apparently due to its shape. It’s supposed to look like a turtle. How much of a truth is that, I have no idea. I didn’t notice that, looking at the map. But maybe I’m lacking imagination?
Currently, we call it Mackinac Island. And on the other side of the lake there’s a city, – Mackinaw. But supposedly we should pronounce both names the same. Somehow. You can listen to the full story, when you get there. And you should, because the island is magical.
So how did I end up there, on a small island on a lake, in northern part of Michigan?
Work and travel USA
Well, have you ever heard about work and travel USA? To put it simply it’s an amazing opportunity to live and work in the USA. And travel of course 🙂 In my case it was a summer job, but there are also internships and such.
The point of this cultural exchange is to learn more about the USA and its citizens. It’s a chance to enrich your resume, gain experience, travel around the USA and meet wonderful people.
I’ve learned about this by chance. A roommate I had for like two weeks in dormitory just came back from the USA after last summer. I’ve grown more and more interested, but at first I thought this is just plain crazy. Me? Going to the USA? /No…
After that, I couldn’t stop thinking about it! It was on my mind somewhere all the time and I started thinking: what if it’s not that crazy? What if I could actually go? And I started checking it out and it seemed more and more possible.
In addition, there’re several agencies, but I chose the one I was told about – Resort Leaders. And it was good choice. Everything went smoothly and soon after, all there was to do, was waiting for the day of my flight.
The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island
In the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island I was working as beverage server. Drinks to put it simply. I was serving alcohol (mostly) in several bars owned by the Grand Hotel and banquets held there.
Life wasn’t always easy. Daily issues and challenges. Some big events that made us busy as hell at the time. A bit of drama from time to time. But it’s all ok, when you have so many wonderful people around. I never felt lonely, although I was away from home for so long. I spent there over three months plus 17 days of travel. Almost four months away from home.
And the Grand Hotel itself? Very beautiful. Fancy food. Fancy drinks and fancy banquets and dresses not from our century. Probably not even from the previous one. It was so amazing. Like nothing, I’ve seen before. Straight from a fairy tail about castles, kingdoms and dragons.
It’s also worth mentioning, that a movie Somewhere in time was filmed there and still attracts a lot of attention.
Attractions on Mackinac Island
There might not be many attractions there. At least not such as casinos, clubs and huge monuments. That however doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do there. It all depends on, what we’re looking for.
There’s a few pubs, even more places with fudge, and some more places with fudge. Then there is also a horse riding. Like you can literally rent a horse for an hour, just like you can rent a car, and some carriages, which you can also rent.
Taxis that are also carrigies, because there’s no bloody cars on the island. Just horses. And bikes. But bikes are a whole other story. And then there’s a carriage tour around Mackinac Island and butterfly house. But let’s face it. If you’re staying there more than two weeks, it’s mostly drinking.
Nature on Mackinac Island
What you can always find on Mackinac Island is nature. Animals. Lots of them. I saw there quite a few from very close. A heron, a gopher (which to be honest I chased with a golf cart, so I could take photo and the gopher looked angry, very angry), a tiny tiny tiny rabbit, a huge owl, many chipmunks (they’re really cute) and some gray and black squirrels.
And then there’s the other kind of nature like Arch Rock, which you can see on the picture above. Apparently it’s not going to last much more than around 20 years. It’s going to fade away at some point. Sugar… I think it was sugar loaf. Not sure tho. I could never remember that name correctly.
Anyway! There is also Devil’s kitchen or as I was calling it: hell’s kitchen. Apparently my brain thinks it’s the same. Well, it kinda is. Both is about devil and demons and such. (Picture below)
Mackinac Island State Park of course. It covers quite a lot of the nature on Mackinac Island. Including Arch Rock, I believe.
Beautiful beaches. Not very comfortable for sunbathing and typical lake-kind activities, but really, really beautiful. You can rent a bike and go all around the island. I did. It took my two hours, but let’s face it, I wasn’t in a hurry. I took my sweet time to take some photos. Half of them was terrible, but there’s the less terrible part.
Life in the USA
Although Mackinac Island is up the north, near Canada, it’s still part of the United States. It might not have been the most american place, taking that it was mostly tourists and summer employees. The island itself has around 500 islanders. Just the Grand Hotel was hiring over 700 this summer. You get the idea.
In other words, we had people from all around the world. But some things remain the same. It’s still he USA, and American food. It’s still american culture. And some other cultures. Anyway!
I must admit that I have never had such a trouble adjusting as in the USA. Maybe it was because of how different the island was and how various in cultures, but still. I thought that we all live watching american movies, american culture, so we know it, but that’s not true.
USA – cultural differences
I wasn’t prepared for this. And what I mean by that is not that the agency failed to prepare us. USA is something you just can’t prepare for. I had no trouble with things, we were told, that may be difficult. I struggled with simple things.
The vocabulary. And I don’t even mean times, when I don’t know the word. But I would know a different one. I’d ask for a jug of water, but in the USA it’s a water pitcher. Not a pavement, but a sidewalk. Simple things.
I had no idea that instead of “have a great day” people say “have a good one”. Or that at work they measure the time in ducking percents. Like What the hell is one hour and 78? Well, apparently it’s like hour and 45 minutes. 15 minutes = 25%! Not only do the use miles and yards and degrees Fahrenheit and hell knows what else, but they use percent for time.
In addition, the no complaining thing. Doesn’t matter if you’re half dead or worse, if people ask “how are you”, you still answer “great, never been better!” I’m used to people complaining in Poland. Perhaps not all the time, but we don’t pretend everything is so awesome.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not criticizing anyone here. I realize that it’s another culture. It’s a way of greeting people. But I lived differently all my life, so it was really hard to switch and not turn out to be a b…
Food in the USA
If there’s anything I could complain about, it might be food. American hamburgers are awesome, but not if that’s the only alternative, when you go to eat out. And the regular food is so processed and not always very nutritious. Or at least very, very different from what I’m used to.
It was hard to get used to different kind of food. After three months of working and eating food I’m not used to, my body was drained from all the minerals and everything. And believe me I was eating more fruit and vegetables than my entire life.
But there are also interesting things. Honey sticks. Flavored honey sticks. Strawberry and chocolate in the picture. But I saw like ten flavors. Including licorice. And I ask: who did that? What kind of monster mixes honey with a licorice?
I love trying new things. Things we don’t have back in Poland. Exotic fruit. When I find some new flavors in hypermarkets, I always buy them. One of the catches on Mackinac, was Star fruit. Tasted kinda like lemon or maybe rather like quince. It makes nice stars you can put into your tea, when you cut it.
And the yogurt. A freaking yogurt has a lead upside down!
Like you can see. The lead is on the smaller part. Back home it would be the opposite side. And I would leave you with that. But there’s just one more thing I wanna show you.
My happy place on Mackinac Island
If there was a place I really loved on Mackinac Island, it would be that one place on the 2nd nine of the golf course. The woods golf course. (Yes, I was doing that twice a week. Selling beverages on the golf course. It was the coolest job I have ever had in my life.) I would drive around and on the way back I would always go that particular way to take another photo of that view. Every day I was there I had another photo. I loved that view.
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