David in California
David did an internship in California. Besides working in the office of the company, he was also able to learn more about the company's products while fieldwork in two different places in the US.
I want to go to the US!
The time in the US was one of the most exciting experiences in my life so far. In the beginning, I have never thought that this time would change me that much. I have always been a big fan of the United States. Whether if movies, literature or art, I admired everything, which comes from overseas. I did not like it, if people spoke bad about America, although they have never been there. I always wanted to get my own idea of the country and so it was certain for me: I want to go to the US!
The way to the States is definitely a long-haul flight and should be planned for longer periods. You really have to ask yourself, if the financial and temporal input is worth the project. As one thing is clear: You can also find something in South-America or Australia, where it is as beautiful as in the US, but where you do not have to spend so much money.
Not a second of my stay, I thought about homesickness
In June 2015, I started my internship in Novato, California, in the project management department. From the beginning, I had the feeling that it is easy to become integrated. Maybe the reason for that is the Californian mentality and so I immediately established contact to many people there. Not a second of my stay, I thought about homesickness. During my time in the US, I lived with a family in Terra Linda in Marin County in a beautiful detached house. In fact, it was the same way, I have always imagined: SUVs in the gateway, the american flag at the house and a basketball basket on the street. The typical american suburb.
From the very first, I fell in love with San Francisco. A wonderful city, which I keep in mind in a very positive way. At the beginning, I visited tourist attractions like the Pier 39, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Park. The people there were really positive and good-humored. Multi-culture and tolerance are very important. Moreover you can particularly notice the cultural origin of these value, as the US was established from immigrants. Therefore it is self-evident that the US is a country of immigration. I really came to appreciate this attitude and so I wished an understanding like that in Germany.
The nightlife in San Fransisco leaves nothing to be desired. You can find everything there. I can particularly recommend nightclubs like the Monarch Club and the Mighty. What I found a little bit embarrassing is that all clubs closed down at 2 o’clock in the morning. Except separate arrangements, it is prohibited to serve drinks from that time on. After 2 o’clock, no one was on the streets anymore. But I have to admit that my expectations were really high, as I am used to the nightlife in Berlin. However, it was a wonderful experience.
As it is just not a holiday...
...I had to work too. I worked for a company, which specializes on the installation of large-scale solar plans. Due to tax incentives from the government, the solar solar industry is booming in the US at the moment. I can count myself lucky, as I got the possibility to travel through the States thanks to my work. After a period of vocational adjustment of four weeks, I was sent to work as a logistics supervisor on a project in Salem, Oregon. For the first time, I had the feeling to experience a cultural shock.
On american building sites blew just another wind as I was used from the air-conditioned office. Especially the local climatic conditions were a huge challenge for me. Solar plants are usually installed, where the sun is shining and so it can be very hot in these areas. Therefore it is essential to wear special protective clothing. Every day, specific safety trainings had to be organized from the whole team. It was also extremely important to be hydrogenated and to bear in mind getting enough electrolyte. So it could happen that somebody is dehydrated, but the one does not realize it, because he or she is so concentrated on the work. Therefore it was said to the staff to watch out for signs of dehydration.
Cultural differences within the US
Beside the work, it was possible for me to explore the area. Oregon is one of the few federal states, where it is allowed to drive with the car on unfortified beach paths. I could not miss this opportunity and so I borrowed the PickUp-Truck from our company. Unfortunately, the wheels were stuck in the sand and therefore it was impossible to get ahead. With a lot of intuition and Four-Wheel-Drive we could finally get out of it.
Another building site was located in North Carolina. I have never thought, that the cultural difference between the west coast and the southern states is so big. The south states have nothing in common with the liberal America of the west coast and New England. Our building site was located in a rural area. Tobacco- and cotton plantations shaped the landscape.
There I could recognize the phenomenon of overweight. If someone asks him- or hisself, why so many people are not able to have a healthy body weight, he or she only has to have a look on a menu of a restaurant. Almost everything, which is served, is deep-fried. Even the vegetables are put in oil. Raw fruit and vegetables are a foreign word. Even I had to resist the temptations of fast food chains and cheap convenience products.
After my fieldwork, I had the possibility to work in the Marketing and Business Development department in the office in Novato. For instance, I was assigned from my CPO (Chief Performance Officer) to develop an Onboarding process for fresh engagements. Many insights into different departments contributed to realign my future job goal.
All in all, I can recommend a stay abroad in the US to everyone who longs for some change. However, you should keep in mind, that certain living qualities are different from those in your home country. But I think, that especially experiences like adapting in a new social surrounding have a huge potential for your personal growth. I do not regret any second of my decision. Everything changed me positive. Now I am more tolerant and open-minded. I also understood, that you only get something, if you show personal input.