My story may be anyone’s story who does not give up on their dreams, no matter what or where. If you are one of them, I invite you to continue reading.
First, let me introduce myself. I am Eva Çota, the oldest daughter of two amazing and hardworking parents, the oldest sister of Jonida and Ilda and the big auntie of Elgit. I am also the teacher of thousands of children in Tirana and the manager of a wonderful staff at AEL Albania. We all uphold many roles in our everyday lives and often our actions and decisions determine the role of the day. But who are we at the end of the day, when the lights of the stage of life turn off and we only have ourselves? I have asked myself that same question many times and the answers have changed over the years. What has not changed is the fact that our journey on planet earth is a journey of discovery, perseverance, and learning. We need to embrace change, do it often and live with it.
I am writing this blog on a plane, flying from California to Florida. I would like to begin by sharing how I got here. Everything and everyone we meet in our lives comes our way for a reason. I learned about MIP from a friend of mine whom I met for an architectural project. Nesila, an MIP fellow herself, convinced me to apply. I did, although the first time through the process I did not succeed. She advised me not to give up, and on my second attempt I was accepted. I urge you to remember you are learning something new every time you surround yourself with better people. Besides that, you should be enthusiastic about things you love and believe in!
I decided not to give up on my American dream (which originally dates back 13 years ago), because everything I envisioned in my head in the first MIP application (in which I failed the last interview) was too perfect to let go. Oh, the places I would go, the people I would meet, the things I would to, new things I would learn… They were too beautiful to just let go. So, I decided to give it a second shot and I won!
I arrived in the United States and started working for Human8 in January 2023. Human8 is a marketing research company based in Detroit, Michigan. I hold the position of Research and Implementation Associate. I love the job I am doing but what I love the most is the company culture and its people. Are you already curious about Human8? Learn more about it here.
Since the pandemic, the company allows their employees to choose to work remotely or come to the office. I decided to do both, I went to the office for a few weeks, until I decided to hit the road and live this experience differently.
Aside from working, which takes most of my day, I am travelling a lot. So far, I have been to 12 American States in 12 weeks. I spent some of my early days in Detroit planning, looking for cheap flights, comfortable and affordable accommodation on Airbnb, interesting destinations, thinking of old friends that I could meet and then just went. I usually fly at night or on the weekends. The funniest part of it so far has been the approach of friends and family towards what I am doing. The “How are you?” opening question of every call is replaced by “Where are you today?”.
What have I learned from my travels?
First, it takes a lot of organizing and love for travel to do this in such a short time. More than 20 flights in 3 months would be a lot without the enthusiasm to experience the American culture and history. It is all fun and games, but I must be honest with you, it also takes missed or delayed flights and wasted money. Sometimes things don’t go as planned and I have also seen myself in uncomfortable spots of waiting for long hours or missing flights just because my organizing skills were disorganized. But everything happens for a reason and after each decision I have realized that a positive state of mind means a lot so keep going and enjoy the ride.
What is more, I have learned that as big as America is, a great country with great people, it is also so small. It takes just a flight to be everywhere. I have met the nicest people who have always welcomed me in every destination, and never hesitated to lend a helping hand when I needed it. One of my favorite parts has been the talks with Uber Drivers, a lot of them. Sometimes I wish I had a camera to film it all and make a documentary out of it. I heard incredible life stories of ordinary people who are so willing to answer any question you have around any subject from family, work, or education, and it feels like they are your friend. Then I hopped out of the car knowing that I would never see them again. The story repeats itself the next ride! America is so diverse! It is more like visiting a collection of micro-countries, each with its own unmistakable identity! It is the melting pot of all the world cultures and the world seems so small as you work, and you live here because you get to meet people of all the possible nationalities.
Above all, the most important lesson I learned it that what we believe is what drives us in life. We make decisions based on what we believe we are values, principles, people around us. If you are a life enthusiast, you will absolutely cherish every step of the way. You will enjoy spontaneity and surprises, even when they are not nice. This experience is so unique for everyone, and you should be prepared to embrace everything that comes your way. No dream is too big until you stop working for it!