Questions/Comments?Contact Us

« Previous Summer Photo Contest Highlights - Part 4 | Main | Be prepared to have the best summer of your life: Conor's story Next »

Becoming three best friends in just three months: Catalin, Irem, and Matt's story

By Catalin Iova, Irem Bagdatli, and Mohammad “Matt” Nejmeddin (CIEE Access Scholar), CIEE Work & Travel USA 2017 participants from Romania, Turkey, and Palestine

Catalin from Romania is twenty-five and studies Media Communication and Advertising, İrem from Turkey is twenty and studies Industrial Engineering, and Matt from Palestine is nineteen and studies Marketing. We came from different countries and different cultures with one common purpose at the beginning of summer 2017: discovering the unknown America and having an extraordinary summer. We all had our dreams and hopes, but the friendship we found during the summer was beyond our imaginations. It may be really hard to build a friendship that is honest, real, and life-long in such a short time, but we were able to do it, and that is unbelievable even today, months later.

Group shot lake
Catalin, Irem, and Matt (l-r)

We still remember, like it was yesterday, our first time hanging out together. It was a rainy summer day in Wildwood, NJ, and we were all stuck in our houses, when one of our colleagues asked everybody if they wanted to hang out. It was a last minute call, and we were the first ones to reply and be willing to go, which was one of the first signs that we were alike. In the end, a lot of our colleagues decided to go out with us, and we went to the beach and then to the park, just to spend time together. We ended up gaining memories that will last forever. Out of everyone, we were the craziest and enjoyed the same things. That night was a blast for each one of us, because that was the moment when we realized that we were alike and wanted to hang out more. After that night, we all started to hang out more and more until we had lost track of time and the days together.

Wildwood Sign
The Wildwoods sign, Wildwood, New Jersey

The night that made us really close was the night we went to Atlantic City. We originally didn’t have a plan, but we knew that we wanted to hang out, so when Catalin suggested going to A.C., we said yes immediately. Matt and Catalin made the plan and included some friends. After we arrived in A.C., we had to come up with a new plan because we arrived late, so we just wandered around for a while and then went somewhere to have a drink and relax. The time passed by so quickly and we didn't realize that the sun was already rising and our night was over. We were having fun and we weren't ready for the night to be over. It was a crazy and fun night, just like us.

With a group of their friends
The friends in Atlantic City, New Jersey

On one rainy day in Wildwood, all three of us were sent home early that day. No reason to be upset, because on that day, our friend Bern turned thirty, and we were able to prepare a surprise birthday party for her. Later, we found out that it was her first surprise birthday party in her life.

Selfie Party Hats
Birthday party selfie

During the party, we dyed our hair with white spray paint, took crazy and silly photos, and had lots of fun until early in the morning. When the party ended and we were going to our houses, Matt and Catalin led Irem to her home because it was far away. They didn’t mind despite being tired and wanting to go home. They did it without asking because that’s what real friends do. They care and they protect you from the possibility of a danger.

Group shot with prizes
The trio of friends with game prizes at work.

After our friendship became much stronger, we started wondering what it would be like if we ran the same game together at work. We started looking for chances to work together. One day, when we all were supposed to work at different games, we tried to find a way to work together. We ended up working together in the three-point challenge game. It was one of the most tiring days of the summer for Irem, but we all realized that while working with friends is fun and good, working with best friends is the best.

The best days we spent together were the ones from our trip through the U.S., which took place during the last days of our summer. An unplanned trip, this is how our journey around the northern states in the U.S. started. It ended with many memories that will live forever in our hearts. We all had different plans, but after Catalin and Irem had to cancel their plans, they decided to take a trip together. In one night they planned all four days’ trip and hit the roads in the morning.

Catalin Irem Amish Village
Catalin and Irem at Amish Village, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

It was a four-day trip, passing through five states, driving five thousand kilometers, endless roads, sleepless nights, countless shopping bags, a bunch of amazing photos, and countless unforgettable memories. It made our friendship stronger and it helped us form an unspoken bond.

Mardi Gras
Dressed up in Mardi Gras theme

After spending so much time together, we came to a point where we realized that, even though there are thousands of kilometers between us and we have different lives, our friendship is not a temporary but a lifetime one. However, knowing was not enough for us; we also wanted to shout our love for each other to the world, showing how unique and beautiful our friendship is.

When Catalin came up with an image of a bracelet that we could customize as we wished, the decision was made. We bought three bracelets that have our names on the front: “♥Catalin, Irem, Matt♥” and “2017 Wildwood” written on the back. While we were having a video call from our home countries, we started remembering the day we got them and how happy we were. We were showing them to everybody and telling everyone how and why we got them. It has been nearly two months since we first got them and we are still wearing them every day and will continue to wear them.

Friendship bracelet and Skype
The friendship bracelet; Staying in touch with Skype chats

You could say that maybe it was a blessing, good luck, or just a coincidence that we became best friends in just three months. Well, we are not sure what it was, but we do know that it’s as real as our heart beats and it’s as eternal as the air we breathe in because even now, after a month since we said one of the hardest goodbyes of all times, we are three best friends who are separated from each other by thousands of kilometers, but still talking nearly every day, looking for the other’s presence everywhere, and wishing we were together to share more of the best moments. We are best friends and will be best friends because we know that the distance between us is just numbers that give us a reason to travel more and the days we are spending apart exist to make us appreciate the days we will spend together in the future.

Group shot flamingo
Best friends